February 8, 2023

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Zak Priest talks about his latest role as Daddy

By Louise Kinross

Zak Priest and his husband or wife Kelsey LeCoure know the ins and outs of Holland Bloorview. Both had been consumers as youngsters. Zak did kindergarten listed here and later on fulfilled Kelsey at The Independence Program, the place youth with disabilities live in a university home and navigate the city. Zak has labored at our healthcare facility as a investigation assistant, performing local community outreach about disability in educational institutions, and for our foundation. This previous summertime and fall, daughter Amelia, 3, spent quite a few months as an inpatient subsequent a surgical procedure. Amelia and Kelsey both have a type of brittle bone illness. We spoke to Zak about parenting with a incapacity.

BLOOM: Tell us a bit about Amelia.

Zak Priest: She’s just a bundle of vitality. She’s the most important go-getter I’ve at any time achieved in my lifestyle. If we could harness that electrical power we would never have to fork out energy payments. There are constantly concepts kicking about in that small head of hers. She loves understanding, and now she loves looking through. She knows the sounds of all the letters and can sit there with a very simple e book and scroll throughout with her finger and sound it out and it blows my head.

If she would like to know something, she usually takes it in. It’s enthusiasm. She can name any instrument you throw at her. She is aware the difference concerning an oboe and a clarinet.

Not too long ago she uncovered corporate logos. She loves to identify autos in a parking large amount. ‘That’s a Nissan. Which is a Volkswagen.’

She enjoys playing the 20th Century Fox drum roll on her drums.

BLOOM: What is her medical condition?

Zak Priest: She has Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), which is a kind of brittle bones. I’d say she’s moderate to extreme. She’s really fragile and breaks really easily. Because she’s a toddler and she needs to wander, she experiences a lot of what start off as micro-fractures from the put on and tear. We have generally been encouraged to make absolutely sure she has the prospect to be as mobile as attainable, since muscle development will help bolster bones. About a 12 months ago she had a poor fracture in her remaining leg which essential rodding surgical procedure. Soon after she recovered from that she had another break, which led to our inpatient continue to be at Holland Bloorview.

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

Zak Priest: The studying component. I love viewing her excitement for factors and when points click on. Lately she’s identified that Daddy is a rather large nerd. I enjoy my Star Wars and movie game titles. On her possess, by likely by means of YouTube on her iPad, she found Mario and she fell in adore with that little earth of figures. She set two and two with each other and recognized we could perform the sport together, and it’s been these kinds of a great expertise.

I like viewing her improve. I assume it is the coolest issue.

I’ve acquired a little man or woman now who has likes and dislikes and fears and factors she wishes to do and items she doesn’t want to do and matters she desires to try. It is remarkable to see that minimal spark go off.

BLOOM: What is been the biggest obstacle?

Zak Priest: All the physical duties that I just cannot enable with.

BLOOM: You have small use of your hands, suitable?

Zak Priest: Of course. There’s a whole lot you have to do bodily with her, from altering her diaper and serving to place her garments on to feeding her. Proper now her leg is undesirable, so she’s not genuinely going a large amount on her 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 hate that Kelsey is on 100 per cent of the time. For the duration of the night time Kelsey is on with no break. My workers support me get into mattress at night and when I’m in bed I just cannot transfer or get up right up until a person arrives in the early morning to get me up.

On the other hand, now that Amelia is having older she’s a lot more interactive and my purpose as a father is shifting simply because we can chat. She can realize and we can converse back again and forth. For the most component she plays independently, so when I’m up I can take charge on days the place Kelsey wants to sit down or have a nap throughout the working day.

BLOOM: What was your response when you acquired Amelia experienced OI?

Zak Priest: We understood heading in there was a quite substantial opportunity. It truly is genetic. I think the numbers have been 50/50. As we’re equally people with disabilities, we’re employed to preparing a lot for everything in our lifestyle. I think likely into it was less complicated due to the fact it was something we prepared for.

We were observed at the specialized Sunnybrook clinic for expecting ladies with disabilities. They have been so superb. Originally they didn’t assume Amelia had OI so we imagined if she has it, it should be gentle. It is been an eye-opening practical experience to find out that it’s extra serious. It is tough. It’s not simple, but with my lifetime, you study to roll with the punches.

BLOOM: Is there anything you do to cope with anxiety?

Zak Priest: We’re pretty a great deal residence bodies. We bond over the reality that we’re most happy in our comfy pants sitting down in our living space with a superior espresso or tea. I like enjoying videos game titles and I hear to audiobooks a large amount. When the climate is nicer I like going for walks. Kelsey and I are Tv set watchers. We obtain distinctive sequence.

Issues are annoying. I would be foolish to check out to influence you they are not. But I assume my anxiety concentrations are stored in check out for the reason that in a sense it’s not new strain. Amelia’s lifetime is an extension of our lifestyle. We’ve been dwelling with a disability and working with these forms of stresses our entire existence. There are actual physical troubles. But in a way we’re uniquely equipped to deal with these type of situations simply because of our personalized encounter.

BLOOM: We interviewed the creator of an Australian reserve about disabled parents. She has a new version with tales from Canadian, American and British families coming out. Practically all of them had pushback from clinical professionals or buddies or relatives who questioned what they were being undertaking.

Zak Priest: Kelsey did have 1 bad encounter with a health practitioner. She went to a stroll-in clinic to do a formal pregnancy check since she couldn’t get an appointment with her physician. Her leg was hurting that day, so she went in her manual chair. I just cannot don’t forget the true terms, but the health practitioner assumed the next steps were likely to be an abortion. We experienced been alongside one another for seven or eight years at this position and we had been very well established and it was one thing we have been excited about. That really place a damper on it.

I imagine a typical thread with family is a whole lot of fret.

BLOOM: What was your expertise with the obtainable care being pregnant clinic at Sunnybrook?

Zak Priest: It was good. The 2nd Kelsey realized she was expecting she realized the variety to contact. They did everything in their ability to make it the typical ‘going to your physician whilst pregnant’ encounter. They had distinctive scales so Kelsey could be weighed in her wheelchair during appointments.

Simply because of Amelia’s analysis, a C-section was prepared. They arrived in with a massive enormous exclusive robe to put in excess of my chair and a hair internet. I assumed I was ready outside and they reported ‘Oh no, you are heading to the OR.” They had cleared out the place so there was area for my chair so I could be there for the knowledge. When Amelia was born she was place on oxygen and they experienced a table that moved lessen so I could keep there with her in that initial minute. They had been amazing.

BLOOM: What tips would you give a disabled man or woman who needs to be a mum or dad?

Zak Priest: Maybe it’s not enjoyable and remarkable and spontaneous, but a whole lot of arranging can help. Consider to believe of stuff in advance. But to contradict myself, you also require to be versatile, due to the fact there will be so several different wrenches thrown your way. As someone with a incapacity, I would say my very best skill is issue-solving. I have been pressured to come to be a good trouble-solver.

Not every little thing will be fantastic and you have to be prepared for challenges and listening to some points you are not likely to want to hear. It is also a truth that as anyone with a incapacity you’re not likely to be able to do every little thing. You’re not likely to have the similar practical experience that you see on that TLC A Little one Story show. You are not going to have that fairy-tale encounter. There will be roadblocks and there will be actual physical barriers and you have to be completely ready to navigate them.

Be prepared to challenge remedy. Be ready for anything which is challenging, but also gratifying.

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