Fundraising

Extra Life 2017 – Fundraising

This Saturday, November 4th, 2017, I will be buckling down for another 24 hours of gaming misadventures, all for the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

I could give you the same schpeel I do every year; this was my home away from home, where I had 4 of my 5 spinal surgeries, where a pseudo-father figure surgeon helped me grow up and hone my sarcasm to its current needle-like state. I could tell you about how the smell of hospitals still makes me nauseous, and that the only way I can go into them is by holding my breath as I walk over the threshold, imagining how I carry a piece of the outside world with me as I go.

I could talk about the hours and hours of x-rays and appointments and surgeries. About sitting awake at night, watching night turn to day and nurses change shifts and fellow patients grow, heal, and leave.

When you turn 18, you effectively ‘graduate’ from the children’s hospital, but you never leave it. Not really. A piece of you stays behind, clings to the shadows. All the kids who walked in and never walked out, all the ones who gave up their innocence to surgeries and experimental treatments and promises to do the best they can.

The Alberta Children’s Hospital was built on the memories and shadows of those kids. Shadows insulate the walls from the coldest of the winter winds, taking the brunt of it so those who are still alive, who are still innocent, get a marginally better chance.

This year’s Extra Life seems a little more melancholy to me, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the sensation of pain getting worse over the last year, or realizing that I am so far away from the comfort of those walls now. I’m as much an adult as I was ever a child, and I feel remarkably listless in between the two worlds.

Still, ACH remains my home away from home, even if I haven’t been a patient there in 10 years. The Good Doctor remains a remarkable influence on my life, even though I haven’t seen him since just after I was married.  And the little slice of shadow, that tiny bit of me, still lingers at the hospital, connecting me to it.

On Saturday, November 4th, I’ll be gaming for 24 hours and raising money for Alberta Children’s Hospital.

You can watch the stream here, or donate money directly to my campaign here. All donations over $20.00 get tax-deductible receipts, and any donation over $25.00 will get you entered to win prizes, including a limited edition BB-8 Funko Pop and a Dogmeat Funko Pop.

Every dollar donated goes directly to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Thank you

Extra Life 2016

It’s that time of year folks. Extra Life 2016 is almost upon us; 14 days and counting. Somewhere, in my brilliance, I thought I could make a $2000 goal. That was silly. I am silly. As it stands I am currently at $410 plus some change donated by my lovely coworkers. Not bad given that I haven’t bombarded social media the same way I normally do. If you’d like to donate to my Extra Life campaign, you can do so here. If you need some convincing, read on.

The What:

Extra Life is a 25 hour video game marathon that takes place every fall. Gamers around the world gather to play video games, board games,  and card games for 25 hours while simultaneously raise money for local Miracle Network Hospitals. I play for Alberta Children’s Hospital. ACH is my jam.

The Why:

I’ve spoken about my medical misadventures more than a few times. I haven’t held back when discussing how nasty chronic pain is, or how vital I have found music and books when it came to surviving my hospital experiences. When it comes down to it, a person can’t be expended to spend hours upon hours of their formative years in the same place with the same people, repeating the same experiences, and not develop some sort of affinity for the setting. For me, that has been, and always will be, the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The old hospital, now the Richmond Road Treatment Centre (Where my chronic pain clinic is now located, fancy that) became my home away from home. I knew its walls, its art work, its doctors and nurses and orderlies. I knew it better than I knew myself, and consequently found the earliest pieces of who I am grew and were nurtured in those walls, by those people. The old ACH holds a very special place in my heart.

It also terrifies me. Like, literally, I usually pee myself a little bit when I have to go back there. Three spinal surgeries with awful, debilitating pain will often create that negative connotation. And yet, for whatever reason, I also love it. Despite having only one surgery in the New Children’s Hospital (which will be celebrating its Tenth Anniversary this year!) I find myself still associating it as a home-away-from-home. It is still inexplicably mine, though I have grown so much older since walking through its halls as a patient. It is a place I ‘graduated’ from, phased out of, and in so many ways, it was the first place to dub me an adult. Sure, I had already graduated high school and gotten a diploma and could vote and had to do my own taxes, but only when I was told I could no longer go to ACH did I truly feel like I had grown up.

It was mesmerizing how sad I was to leave the hospital, to leave behind the nurses who had helped raise me in so many ways, and the doctor who had been like a father to me for the last seven years.

Growing up sucks, but growing up and leaving behind that was more difficult than any tax equation or ‘adulting’ I have had to do since then.

I love the Children’s Hospital. I hate what it represents in many ways; all my fear, my pain, my awkward youth. But I appreciate how I can now look back on it with wider, if not world-weary eyes, and see what it meant to me and how it shaped me into the woman I am today. That is why I take part in Extra Life. It is giving back, if only in the smallest way, to a place that helped shape me into the sarcastic, annoying individual I am today.

I couldn’t be more grateful.

The When:

November 5th, starting at 10:00 a.m.

The Who:

As always, Cheryl will be joining me for her own live stream! Last year I was pretty damn sick and I flaked bad on her. This year I am making it up. Because Alex and I are moving this monday, we will be having a pseudo-house warming party with some close friends who are invited to come over and play card games as a break in the evening!

The Small Details:

I’ve decided this year to try doing a single game from the start. Namely: Fallout 4. I’ve only done a single run of Fallout 4 so far, so I think it’ll be fun to start all over and make the biggest, sarcastic, jerkiest character I can. I’m going to call her Moira BulletStomper. Yeah.

I’ll be streaming on my Twitch channel here!

Tweets will happen intermittently here.

How can I help?

If you have a dollar to spare and you’d like to donate, you can do so on my fundraising page here!  Alternately, I encourage you to join in the fun! Tell your friends, get groups together, and use November 5th as an excuse to reconnect with some old buddies and raise money for your local Children’s Hospital. It certainly doesn’t have to be ACH! You can pick any hospital in any region!

This really is a wonderful cause. I can’t do sports. I am not so good at the mathing. I don’t politic or science well. But dammit, I can game, and I can write, and on November 5th I’m going to be doing it #ForTheKids!

As a bonus, here is my spine from… one of the surgeries. I don’t know. I’ve lost count.

participant_141562

The Code: Between Fire and Pines

My New Year Resolution, apart from not being such a big baby when it comes to chronic, debilitating pain, is to finally get off my ass and get The Code published. In the first week of the new year I found an editor and got a quote. $1575, and a 6 to 8 week turn around time. I made contact with my fabulous artist again, and set my plan into motion.

Because I am trudging away at paying my student loans and my credit card, and because I can’t rightly expect my husband to pay for all the bills, I estimated that it would take two months before I could even afford the deposit of $700 for editing services. It was far too long.

I’ve always been amazed by the generosity of strangers, and it struck me that my best option to speed up the process might be to start a campaign to help pay for all that is required. Enter GoFundMe.

In four days I’ve already been able to raise $315 thanks to dear friends and family who have patiently put up with my dreams of writing over the years. Today I turn to you, lovely readers.

I’m hoping to raise $1800 to cover the remaining costs of hiring Maddison Barut on again to do the art for tee-shirts and postcards that will be offered as rewards for contributions. She is so talented, and the cover she created for The Code gives me chills every time I see it.

My editor is out of town, back next week. By then I hope to have the $700 deposit ready for her. Any small contribution would help! If you donate $35 you get a tee-shirt! $40 gets you a signed copy of the book! A friend donated $100, so I’m pretty sure I owe her a kidney.

If you’d like to help out, please visit the GoFundMe page here. I won’t be too annoying about it, but you can expect to see a few more writing related posts in the next little while (and hopefully less My life is awful please make the pain stop.)

If you can’t afford to donate, or don’t care enough to donate but do care just enough to talk about it, please consider sharing this with your friends and family online and in the terrible place known as The Real World.

Also, Keith doesn’t want anyone to see this picture. Here it is.

Keith and Parrot Lovin'

Suck it, Keith. Oh wait, you already did.

Extra Life 2015 – A Week Late

Last week was the official Game Day for Extra Life 2015. Unfortunately I couldn’t partake as I was busy screaming at children and their parents. Now, you might be saying to yourself “Tell us something about you that we don’t know, Kathleen.” If I am to be honest, I was paid to scream at them. I was paid by my place of work. I was paid to pump up the copious parents and their wee children who had arrived for the grand opening of our American Girl Boutique. It was great fun. I spent the day meeting and talking to parents and kids, escorting them through the store as I threw on my best Ol Timey Radio voice and waved my hands around like a Wacky Waving Inflatible Arm Waving Tube Man. Some parents were even kind enough to thank me for the job I did on twitter, which was jolly good.

But, that meant while I was screaming at children, all my Extra Life buddies were busy with bloodied fingers and sore eyes, taking part in a 24 hour video game marathon for our local Children’s Hospital (which I have spoken about before.)

Well, a week later, and I’m getting off my ass to do it. Cheryl will be joining me again this year, as will Shawna. My goal is $1500, and at this point I’m only at $340. It doesn’t matter, though, because it is the thought that really counts. Sean Rooney and his team raised over 40K in the memory of their son, Dominic. That money will go directly to ACH and help them remain one of the most prestigious Children’s Hospitals in North America. We are so, so lucky to have access to the research and staff at ACH, and every year around Extra Life time I feel the need to reflect on my time as a patient as ACH.

Like most sick kids, I never really had the capacity to look at my situation with any sense of rational thought. I never looked around and mused about the remarkable things happening all around me, about the lives being saved and lost within the bright walls of ACH. I never said, “Golly! The medical research taking place here is out of this world! Surely we, as a community, ought to go out of our way to support this fabulous institution!”

I was, simply put, a dumb kid with no concept of the world that revolved around me. In many ways I am glad that my education focused heavily on rational thought. I constantly wonder if I would be capable of looking back at my time as a patient at ACH with gratitude if it weren’t for the teachings of those around me.  For Doctor Harder, who stepped into the role of a father and still keeps my graduation picture on his desk; to Evelyn, who became a close friend and comfort to my mother. To Doctor Salo, who took on my case with his dry sense of humor and, to this day, is the only person I want on my side when Skynet takes over (because he is, and I quote “Not afraid of no toaster”.)  To my teachers who showed more patience than necessary through high school, as I adjusted to my life in this new and relatively disagreeable body, who offered me books and words of comfort every time a surgery came around. To the professors in College in University, who put up with my sarcasm and helped me hone it in such a way that the energy of it went towards educating others instead of fueling my own regrets. To my mom, who stood by my side for every surgery, every x-ray and MRI, who brought Momma Bear forth when needed, and joined me in outlandish and childish commentary about other patients during the long hours in hospital waiting rooms. To my husband, who stands by my side now, through everything. Who does it without being asked, knowing that I am perhaps a bit too stubborn to acknowledge that I need him there, when the truth is I do, for every appointment.

I do this ridiculous marathon for all of you, because you taught me how to survive, and help me to do so every day. And knowing that the love and compassion you showed to me was not meant for me alone, but meant to be shared with those who I encountered as I got older. I will continue to show compassion, thoughtfulness, and rational thought on a daily basis because that is what I took away from Alberta Children’s Hospital. Every child who walks through the front door of that amazing structure is fighting their own battle, be it cancer, blood diseases, autoimmune diseases, or broken bones. They don’t know it now, but they will learn compassion and thoughtfulness as well, probably years after the fact, when they are older and capable of reflecting on their experiences.

So tomorrow, if you are having a lazy saturday, join myself, Cheryl, and Shawna as we play games of all sorts for ACH and all the kids in Southern Alberta who have, and will eventually use ACH in some capacity.

We will be streaming via twitch here, starting around 10 am MST.

Donations can be made here.

There will be singing and antics and various games. Cheryl will also stream, I imagine, as she has a much larger and dedicated audience! There will be Moscow Mules to drink (I bought a bag of limes just for this event), popcorn eaten, and lots of Beemo and Vivi time in front of the camera.

Help me support Alberta Children’s Hospital, a week late but hopefully not a dollar short. If you can’t spare a dime, then please consider sharing this with your friends and family.

Thank you,

Kathleen Sawisky, esq.

Integrity Commissioner and also Prime Minister of Canada Hur Hur

Extra Life 2015 or ‘Dammit, Cheryl!’

I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t ready for Extra Life this year. This would be my fourth year doing the annual 24 hour video game marathon, and I had originally given myself a goal of $1500 in an effort to top what I did last year.

But things happen. Life gets in the way. And somehow the increasing strain I was feeling in my back and the constant, reverberating pain that was beginning to eat away at my sense of self and sensibilities left me feeling as if this year I just couldn’t do it. I love gaming, but this year was just one year too many. My body couldn’t handle the stress, my mind was already strained from trying to remain happy under the pressure to be miserable, and now I was working.

But dammit all, Cheryl just had to message me on Facebook, innocently inquiring as to my plans. She unknowingly planted that seed, that tiny idea that was, from her end, innocuous and innocent. Not to me though. My brain, twisted as it is, interpreted it as Kathleen, you are letter yourself and the Children’s Hospital, which you owe so much, down if you don’t do this. Don’t be a big dumb baby.

Shut up, brain. Shut up!

But there you have it. My big dumb-dumb baby brain is back in Extra Life 2015 mode, and with only 2ish weeks left to fundraising I have put myself into one hell of a corner. I won’t make my goal, but I refuse to change it. I said I would raise $1500 and dammit, I will try. I will bribe coworkers, guilt if need be. I will beg family, I will post pictures of my nasty-ass spine and I will describe in vivid detail what it is like to have to take 12 children’s Tylenol instead of suffering a suppository only to then throw up artificial grape flavoured nonsense. It was like vomiting up Hell itself, by the way.

I will do it all in order to remind you folks that every year hundreds of thousands of kids utilize the various hospitals that are part of the Children’s Miracle Network, and that ACH here in Calgary is particularly important to me. It was a second home growing up, and offered me a family I never thought I would need, let alone want.

If you have a dollar, a dime, a quarter to spare, please consider donating, if not to me then to someone else. Maybe there is another hospital closer to where you live, where your own child has gone, or where you yourself had a broken limb mended in your childhood. Support these amazing organizations in any way you can.

Me? On November 7th to 8th (or possibly 8th to 9th depending on my work schedule) I will be playing video games for 24 hours straight. I will live stream it and complete challenges. Full disclosure: It will be all Fallout.

Click here to view my Extra Life page and, hey, maybe make a donation too!