This is a letter than my ministerial friend sent out recently following some extra efforts by a minister friend to help her get her world right-side-up again. I am posting it verbatim: This is a letter than my ministerial friend sent out recently following some extra efforts by a minister friend to help her get her world right-side-up again. I am posting it verbatim:
Dear Friends: Dear Friends:
In response to a need that was raised on the website of the “Friends of the Presbyterian Church in Canada”, I was encouraged to share my story to our wider church family. I am taking a leap of faith, hoping that it will reach others and shine some light on the serious hardships one faces when a bad accident occurs. In response to a need that was raised on the website of the “Friends of the Presbyterian Church in Canada”, I was encouraged to share my story to our wider church family. I am taking a leap of faith, hoping that it will reach others and shine some light on the serious hardships one faces when a bad accident occurs.
Most of you will know that I have served the Presbyterian Church in Canada from 1999 to 2012 (and from 1997 to 1999 as a student placement). I studied at Knox, served as clergy in Oshawa (1997-2004), Summerside, PEI (2004-2011) and then Madoc, Ontario (March 2011 until end of September 2012 when I was put on indefinite medical leave). Most of you will know that I have served the Presbyterian Church in Canada from 1999 to 2012 (and from 1997 to 1999 as a student placement). I studied at Knox, served as clergy in Oshawa (1997-2004), Summerside, PEI (2004-2011) and then Madoc, Ontario (March 2011 until end of September 2012 when I was put on indefinite medical leave).
After three and a half years I am still struggling to adjust to this permanent life change that occurred as a result of a terrible accident on Feb. 21, 2012 at my former pastoral charge in Madoc, ON. It has changed my life forever emotionally, spiritually, financially and physically. The reality is that I am very tired and I desperately want to move forward in my life but I can’t. I need closure and it is my hope that closure will come after I tell my story. I believe with all my heart that God has given me the strength and courage to share it now! It has been a long, long road to healing. As a child asks a parent “Are we there yet?” I am forever asking, “When will I be back to my old self?” I feel like I have been wandering lost in the wilderness and trying to find my way. Each one of us has been lost a time or two but for me this is more than being lost. It has been a journey of healing and acceptance.
Learning to understand and accept three major things is an on-going challenge: Knowing
> THAT I CANNOT WORK AGAIN. This has been the hardest part of the journey and I am still not there yet. I am no longer me and I do not know what my future holds. So it is true, I am still lost in this part of my life.
>> THAT I NEED ADDITIONAL HELP AND SUPPORT. I have had various support systems guiding me on this journey. In order to close this chapter of my life, I am reaching out to my wider church family for additional help and support.
After three and a half years I am still struggling to adjust to this permanent life change that occurred as a result of a terrible accident on Feb. 21, 2012 at my former pastoral charge in Madoc, ON. It has changed my life forever emotionally, spiritually, financially and physically. The reality is that I am very tired and I desperately want to move forward in my life but I can’t. >>> IN ORDER TO HAVE A FUTURE, I NEED TO LET GO OF MY PAST. My goal is to transition from my old life into what I hope will be a very positive future of volunteer work and rest. I need to learn and accept that I am NOT who I used to be. But I am who I am today and that is the best I can be for now; at least I keep trying to tell myself that.
In terms of my HEALTH:
My accident has left me with a brain injury and severe mobility problems. I have very little use of my right arm and face daily challenges that include reaching and lifting. My left arm through overuse has a partial tear in the tendon and arthritis in the shoulder. I am often in pain and the next step will be a shoulder replacement (at the time I was put back together with plates and screws). I cannot sleep on either side anymore because of pain. I need personal care three times a week and am under the care of a VON and PSW. I see a neurologist twice a year and an OT comes to assess my abilities. It has taken me over three years to begin driving again because of the scrambled thoughts of my brain. I am now driving thank to a Drivers Rehab Program.
I still mix up my words when I talk (although not as often as I used to) and the brain injury has left me with some residual short-term and long-term memory loss. Because of spatial disorientation, I need a walker to assist me outside or in a large space. The walker gives me balance and prevents me from wandering side to side. Dan, my husband of 20+ years cannot help me as he suffers with a chronic disability, had an emergency quadruple by-pass in 2014, and is scheduled to have a complete reverse ball and joint shoulder replacement in mid-August 2015.
In terms of my FINANCIAL SITUATION:
> MANY WERE/ARE UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT I RECEIVED AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT COMPENSATION. You don’t get compensated if you hit your head into your own car. (I still find that funny)!
>> MANY WERE/ARE UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT A CLAIM WAS FILED WITH PROPERTY INSURANCE. I could not, as it would have meant taking action against the church property insurance and the board of managers. I could not do that then or now.
>>> MANY WERE/ARE UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT COVERAGE WAS AVAILABLE THROUGH WSIB INSURANCE AND COMPENSATION. I wasn’t covered in Madoc, ON under WSIB because it is optional for religious organizations to register their staff. Our PCC national office staff is covered under WSIB and I was covered at Summerside Presbyterian Church in PEI. These discrepancies contributed to my confusion.
Following this tragedy and subsequent permanent disability, my income took a significant drop. I am happy to say that at this point my pension is secure. I am on LTD and CPP Disability Income and that will not change, Dan is on CPP and OAS. However, this new income barely covers our financial responsibilities, which were based on my working income. This has put us in a very difficult position and has left us with a significant debt that cannot be eradicated until October 2018. I want to acknowledge that there were some emergency donations and surprise gifts that were given which helped and were greatly appreciated, but the truth is, we still face an ongoing burden and financial struggle. Our persons have been used up quickly by high rental costs; medical trips for surgeries and special equipment not covered under our medical plan; (bath bars, a lift chair, and used lift beds which were purchased in 2013).
In terms of my SPIRITUALITY:
I long to get back to church. I can’t, at least not yet. I have tried but I feel empty and disconnected. I have taken a giant step and registered for volunteer work. This is huge for me as it will be the first commitment I have been able to make in three and a half years. I also served on a fund raising project at my home church of St. Luke’s, Oshawa; another big step for me. The off part of all of this is that I pray for others. My heart and my mind still function as clergy but I cannot follow though as everything feels like a big mountain to climb. My brain cannot handle stress nor can I process a lot of information. Too many people, too much talking and I am lost and mixed up. Hopefully someday it will be different. I have carried a lot of guilt for leaving Madoc and ending what was a promising ministry,
I felt very badly for myself and our family and bad for them. Those feelings do not disappear quickly because of my love for the church and my work.
AND THAT MY FRIENDS IS MY STORY about how it has been, where I am today, and how far I have come. The pain I have felt, tears shed for the loss of work I loved, and being unable to understand this “new me” has been a long journey. I know I am not better yet but I hope that through the support, caring, and prayers of others I will learn to accept this “new normal”.
People often ask me if I am angry with God. I don’t think so, but policies failed me. That is why this is so important to me today, not just for myself, but also for others who may find themselves in a similar situation. This is a journey that not only includes me but the wider church. How do we respond as a church when an accident like this happens. In what ways can we improve the future policies of the national church and protection for staff while on the job? Know that I am very thankful for the past kindness shown to us; the coffees, visits, cards, help with moving, the many prayers, and more. Today I want to thank God for those who are willing to walk with me on this leg of the journey. In the end, my goal is to continue to share my story with updates and progress. Know that I will pay it forward when Dan and I are financially stable. That is who I am and will always be.
Rev. Vicki Homes
It should be noted that one minister and some friends have taken the step of ministering for and pastoring to Vicki and Don further.
These people have set up a DONATIONS ACCOUNT at RBC…for those so inclined to assist Rev. Homes can go into an RBC Branch any day up until the end of the year (Dec ’15) and give as follows:
Donations Account (Vicki Homes) — Account # 03672-003-5128830. Gift can be by certified cheque or draft/cashiers cheque or money order or cash deposit.
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