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My Own Blood

with Ashley Bristowe
Hosted by Julie S. Lalonde

My Own Blood

with Ashley Bristowe
Hosted by Julie S. Lalonde
Ashley Bristowe

Mothering under normal circumstances takes all you have to give. But what happens when your child is disabled, and sacrificing all you've got and more is the only hope for a decent future?

 

Author and educator Julie S. Lalonde hosts a conversation with Ashley Bristowe, author of My Own Blood, a memoir full of rage and resilience, duty and love.

 

When their second child, Alexander, is diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, doctors tell Ashley Bristowe and her husband that the boy won't walk, or even talk--that he is profoundly disabled. Stunned and reeling, Ashley researches a disorder so new it's just been named--Kleefstra Syndrome--and she finds little hope and a maze of obstacles. Then she comes across the US-based "Institutes," which have been working to improve the lives of brain-injured children for decades. Recruiting volunteers, organizing therapy, juggling a million tests and appointments, even fundraising as the family falls deep into debt, Ashley devotes years of 24/7 effort to running an impossibly rigorous diet and therapy programme for their son with the hope of saving his life, and her own. The ending is happy: he will never be a "normal" boy, but Alexander talks, he walks, he swims, he plays the piano (badly) and he goes to school.

 

This victory isn't clean and it's far from pretty; the personal toll on Ashley is devastating. "It takes a village," people say, but too much of their village is uncomfortable with her son's difference, the therapy regimen's demands and the family's bottomless need. The health and provincial services bureaucracy set them a maddening set of hoops to jump through, showing how disabled children and their families languish because of criminally low expectations about what can be done to help.

 

My Own Blood is an uplifting story, but it never shies away from the devastating impact of a baby that science couldn't predict and medicine couldn't help.

 

Books are available from our friends at Perfect Books.

 

The Ottawa International Writers Festival is supported by generous individuals like you. Please consider subscribing to our newsletter and making a donation to support our programming and children’s literacy initiatives.

 

Presented in Partnership with the Ottawa Public Library.

 

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