Zak Priest talks about his latest role as Daddy

By Louise Kinross

Zak Priest and his associate Kelsey LeCoure know the ins and outs of Holland Bloorview. Both of those were being clients as kids. Zak did kindergarten in this article and later satisfied Kelsey at The Independence Method, wherever youth with disabilities are living in a university residence and navigate the city. Zak has labored at our hospital as a analysis assistant, doing group outreach about disability in colleges, and for our foundation. This previous summertime and slide, daughter Amelia, 3, invested various months as an inpatient subsequent a surgery. Amelia and Kelsey both have a kind of brittle bone disease. We spoke to Zak about parenting with a incapacity.

BLOOM: Tell us a bit about Amelia.

Zak Priest: She’s just a bundle of energy. She’s the largest go-getter I have ever fulfilled in my lifestyle. If we could harness that electrical power we would hardly ever have to shell out electrical power payments. There are generally ideas kicking all over in that small head of hers. She enjoys understanding, and now she loves looking at. She knows the appears of all the letters and can sit there with a basic book and scroll throughout with her finger and sound it out and it blows my head.

If she wishes to know one thing, she usually takes it in. It’s enthusiasm. She can name any instrument you toss at her. She appreciates the difference concerning an oboe and a clarinet.

Recently she identified corporate logos. She enjoys to identify autos in a parking large amount. ‘That’s a Nissan. Which is a Volkswagen.’

She enjoys taking part in the 20th Century Fox drum roll on her drums.

BLOOM: What is her clinical issue?

Zak Priest: She has Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), which is a kind of brittle bones. I’d say she’s average to serious. She’s extremely fragile and breaks extremely conveniently. Simply because she’s a toddler and she would like to stroll, she ordeals a lot of what commence as micro-fractures from the don and tear. We have normally been inspired to make guaranteed she has the possibility to be as cell as probable, simply because muscle mass development aids strengthen bones. About a year in the past she had a poor fracture in her left leg which needed rodding surgical procedures. Just after she recovered from that she had a further split, which led to our inpatient stay at Holland Bloorview.

BLOOM: What have been the biggest joys of parenting Amelia?

Zak Priest: The discovering element. I enjoy observing her pleasure for issues and when items click on. Recently she’s identified that Daddy is a quite significant nerd. I appreciate my Star Wars and video clip online games. On her own, by going via YouTube on her iPad, she identified Mario and she fell in appreciate with that minor earth of characters. She set two and two together and recognized we could play the sport alongside one another, and it is been such a excellent expertise.

I appreciate observing her expand. I think it’s the coolest issue.

I have obtained a small human being now who has likes and dislikes and fears and items she needs to do and matters she doesn’t want to do and matters she wishes to consider. It’s awesome to see that tiny spark go off.

BLOOM: What’s been the greatest challenge?

Zak Priest: All the actual physical responsibilities that I can’t help with.

BLOOM: You have small use of your fingers, appropriate?

Zak Priest: Yes. There’s a ton you have to do bodily with her, from altering her diaper and supporting set her dresses on to feeding her. Right now her leg is undesirable, so she’s not definitely shifting a great deal on her very own and Kelsey has to shift her. It is heart-wrenching to be current and be there and not have a hand in it. I dislike that Kelsey is on 100 for each cent of the time. All through the night time Kelsey is on with no split. My personnel aid me get into mattress at evening and when I’m in mattress I cannot transfer or get up until finally anyone arrives in the morning to get me up.

On the other hand, now that Amelia is having more mature she’s far more interactive and my part as a father is shifting due to the fact we can talk. She can fully grasp and we can connect back again and forth. For the most part she plays independently, so when I’m up I can choose demand on days wherever Kelsey desires to sit down or have a nap for the duration of the day.

BLOOM: What was your reaction when you discovered Amelia had OI?

Zak Priest: We realized heading in there was a relatively significant likelihood. It is really genetic. I feel the quantities ended up 50/50. As we’re each folks with disabilities, we’re employed to organizing a ton for every thing in our life. I assume going into it was simpler mainly because it was one thing we prepared for.

We have been seen at the specialized Sunnybrook clinic for pregnant gals with disabilities. They have been so superb. At first they did not feel Amelia experienced OI so we thought if she has it, it must be mild. It is been an eye-opening knowledge to study that it’s additional significant. It is tricky. It’s not straightforward, but with my lifestyle, you study to roll with the punches.

BLOOM: Is there anything at all you do to cope with worry?

Zak Priest: We’re very a great deal household bodies. We bond about the actuality that we’re most delighted in our comfortable pants sitting down in our living area with a good espresso or tea. I love playing video clips games and I hear to audiobooks a whole lot. When the weather conditions is nicer I really like likely for walks. Kelsey and I are Television watchers. We discover various collection.

Issues are demanding. I would be foolish to try out to encourage you they’re not. But I imagine my anxiety levels are held in test due to the fact in a feeling it is not new stress. Amelia’s lifetime is an extension of our everyday living. We’ve been living with a incapacity and dealing with these varieties of stresses our complete lifestyle. There are physical challenges. But in a way we’re uniquely outfitted to deal with these kind of scenarios simply because of our particular experience.

BLOOM: We interviewed the creator of an Australian ebook about disabled dad and mom. She has a new edition with tales from Canadian, American and British people coming out. Virtually all of them experienced pushback from clinical pros or good friends or loved ones who questioned what they were being carrying out.

Zak Priest: Kelsey did have one particular lousy experience with a health care provider. She went to a stroll-in clinic to do a formal pregnancy examination due to the fact she couldn’t get an appointment with her doctor. Her leg was hurting that working day, so she went in her manual chair. I just can’t bear in mind the true phrases, but the medical doctor assumed the upcoming ways have been going to be an abortion. We experienced been jointly for seven or 8 several years at this point and we have been quite properly recognized and it was some thing we ended up enthusiastic about. That truly set a damper on it.

I consider a prevalent thread with family is a large amount of worry.

BLOOM: What was your knowledge with the available treatment pregnancy clinic at Sunnybrook?

Zak Priest: It was good. The second Kelsey understood she was pregnant she knew the range to simply call. They did anything in their ability to make it the classic ‘going to your medical professional though pregnant’ expertise. They had special scales so Kelsey could be weighed in her wheelchair throughout appointments.

Because of Amelia’s prognosis, a C-part was prepared. They arrived in with a huge enormous specific gown to set more than my chair and a hair web. I assumed I was waiting outside the house and they claimed ‘Oh no, you are heading to the OR.” They had cleared out the room so there was space for my chair so I could be there for the practical experience. When Amelia was born she was set on oxygen and they experienced a table that moved lessen so I could continue to be there with her in that initial moment. They had been fantastic.

BLOOM: What suggestions would you give a disabled person who wishes to be a mother or father?

Zak Priest: It’s possible it is not exciting and exciting and spontaneous, but a ton of arranging can help. Attempt to imagine of stuff in advance. But to contradict myself, you also require to be versatile, for the reason that there will be so several distinct wrenches thrown your way. As somebody with a disability, I would say my most effective ability is issue-solving. I have been pressured to turn out to be a excellent challenge-solver.

Not almost everything will be fantastic and you have to be all set for worries and hearing some items you’re not likely to want to hear. It is also a reality that as another person with a disability you are not heading to be equipped to do all the things. You are not likely to have the very same practical experience that you see on that TLC A Little one Tale present. You are not going to have that fairy-tale practical experience. There will be roadblocks and there will be bodily limitations and you have to be completely ready to navigate them.

Be completely ready to difficulty solve. Be completely ready for something that is tricky, but also fulfilling.

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