Hi everyone. My name is Rick… and I don’t even feel like I deserve to have you people read my story. But in all honesty, I’m truly suffering with all that has happened.
What I have written is a lot to take in, and I wouldn’t blame you if you decide to ignore it. Believe me, I wish I could.
I was born in the "Deep River Improvement District" of Deep River, Ontario in 1966. Shortly after, my family moved around before trying to settle in North Bay, Ontario. Being that the earliest memories I have start in North Bay, I will go from there.
I am the second youngest of six Indigenous children, four boys and two older sisters to my parents Joseph Albert Jean Bertrand and Claire Bernadette Miller.
I also have half-siblings, as we do not share the same father. This is the case with my half-sisters and half-brother.
For you to understand how bad it was for us would mean I would have to explore memories that I would rather not talk about.
As painful as the prospect seems, I've come to a point in my life where I know I must, in order to have the truth known. It is here where I should describe the conditions of the life I had with my family.
My parents, being alcoholics in the extreme form, are difficult for me to talk about...not just because of the pain associated... also the embarrassment. When I think of my family, the first thing that comes to mind is how abnormal we were.
Whenever my father made or received some money, my parents would abandon us. This is documented in everything I’ve collected from the Children’s Aid Society file, as they were involved.
My father was known for taking the money from Social Assistance to Toronto so he could drink, attend strip clubs, and obtain the services of prostitutes in the Toronto downtown core.
Except for his being afflicted by alcoholism and shingles, there is little I know of my father. It wasn’t until two years ago that I was even made aware of his real name, as I knew my father as Jack Bertrand.
What I do know is my father, his two brothers and his sister were all in a Roman Catholic residential school outside of Stonecliffe, Ontario, when they were children.
None of them ever spoke of their time there, as it was a very painful time for all of them. What I can say is all of them became severely affected by alcoholism and depression.
For me to be very specific would require a novel... not a letter. To be honest, I have yet to see a made for TV movie that comes close to how bad it was for our family.
Currently, I am 56 years old... but I still very much feel like that abused kid. I still carry all the pain and anger associated with this. It has never gone away for me.
My life is very difficult for me because I have never received the medical assistance I require... and at best, I have only been able to maintain intermittent medical care through virtual clinics, which is far from what I require.
What I can say about my family is all my brothers, sisters and myself suffer from the same symptoms on varying levels.
So do our children.
Many of them, including my son, Jamieson, have obvious physical birth defects.
If you knew the total spectrum of disorders that everyone in my family is being treated for, my father’s history of Shingles infection, and the added likelihood of fetal alcohol exposure, I'm sure you would understand my concerns.
After going over my Children’s Aid records, summaries of my medical files, my parents history with severe alcoholism, the social class of my family, the behavioural problems that run through most of my family members in varying degrees, a list of the most prevalent genetic and medical disorders amongst First Nations people, and the very course of difficulties I’ve endured in my life, I am fairly certain my medical issues fit the demographics of my family and myself.
Because my repeated requests for a complete physical and testing to confirm or rule out my concerns were ignored, I’ve lost all faith in those involved in my ‘care’. I’m now a former patient at the Cancer Assessment Clinic, The Ottawa Heart Institute… and Wabano’s Health Centre.
With all my health issues, I don’t even have a family doctor anymore, except the services I’m forced to pay for so I can receive some of the treatment I require.
As a resident of Ontario that has OHIP, and an Indigenous person, I find this unacceptable.
I’ve been to see the Genetics Clinic at C.H.E.O. in Ottawa for a genetic consultation and testing. As there is no diagnostic test for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, all they could do was rule out some of the other possible disorders, which all came back negative. They did not test for Congenital Varicella Syndrome, which requires a specific test.
By the process of elimination though, I feel this supports my concern for brain injury due to congenital viral infection, along with the possibility of partial fetal alcohol exposure.
I also suffer from overlapping symptoms… and infections.
Being recognized as possibly being afflicted with a mild form F.A.S.D., along with Shingles involvement, and my knowledge that in all likelihood I’m afflicted with CVS saddens me. I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like had I received proper care… and I can’t help feeling cheated.
It is my hope potential outside involvement might bring an end to this situation, which regards my mishandled medical care and how it may have led to the passing of my former girlfriend, Karen Prairie-Point of Cornwall, Ontario.
I miss her deeply. I really do…
The story I need to tell is long and complex. It involves what I believe to be medical negligence that began with the steroid therapy prescribed to me by my endocrinologist, and how my testosterone levels were not properly managed by the doctors involved.
This aggravated my underlying medical condition, causing potentially life threatening symptoms as a result.
I believe if I’m diagnosed for what I’m attempting to have addressed, then this was a contributing factor in the preventable death of my friend.
It also means Dr. Kayvan Amjadi from the Cancer Ages Assessment Centre at The Ottawa Hospital did not diagnose and therefore treat her in time.
Nor did The Ottawa Heart Institute, who tried to care for her heart but without the assistance of an accurate diagnosis, and no treatment for viral infection, Karen passed away.
Here we are… almost two years since Karen passed, and Dr. Amjadi became my Pulmonologist because I ended up becoming his patient at the Cancer Ages Assessment Centre, as well as a patient at The Ottawa Heart Institute… just as Karen was. The very same doctors.
My symptoms are very similar to what Karen’s were… and might explain why we had the same doctors in the end.
But because I asked Dr. Amjadi, Silvia Zanon of The Ottawa Hospital, Nancy Shore of The Ottawa Heart Institute, and Joanne Soucie of the Wabano Indigenous Health Centre, if they missed an infection(s) that both Karen and me shared, I believe it became a liability issue for them.
Due to current social issues involving medical discrimination in Canada that has been directed at the Indigenous population, I also wonder if my racial background is the reason for the lack of care I’ve received. I truly hope not, as the feeling I’m left with is indescribable and hurts me to my core.
I’m also having difficulty understanding why I have yet to receive a full physical medical examination… despite all my symptoms.
My last complete physical was at 12 years of age while I was a Crown Ward of the Children’s Aid Society.
That was 1978 in North Bay, Ontario.
Being Indigenous, a survivor of repeated familial sexual abuse,… and after enduring more sexual abuse by my foster mother while in the care of the Children’s Aid Society of Ontario, I feel like damaged goods.
I also feel abandoned by the medical community whom I thought was bound by oath to use their knowledge to provide medical assistance whenever they can.
That oath does not appear to apply to me, though.
To be honest, most of my life has been filled with neglect, racism and abuse.
It’s been hell for me.