Help Support the Bakers
Gary’s wife, Erica, and their four daughters are looking to set up a more permanent residence in Vancouver so they can be with Gary during his recovery. While many friends and family have offered their support, it’s becoming apparent to us (Erica’s sisters) that the biggest need during his recouvery will be financial.
For those of you who don’t know, this past year Erica encouraged Gary as he took a leap of faith and went back to University. Gary has always had a voracious love of learning and they chose to accept this new financial strain in order to support Gary as he pursued an education and a new career direction. Meanwhile, Erica is already half way through her degree in Biochemistry and hopes to pursue a career in Epidemiology. Over the summer, Gary and Erica continued to do a few timber-framing project through their business. Gary also worked fulltime for another construction company in order to save money for the fall. It’s now clear that Gary won’t be able to work for several months at least, and we want to see Erica and the girls free to be with Gary as much as possible.
We are currently aiming to raise 50 thousand dollars for the Baker family. This money could set up a large enough fund to sustain them over the next unknown number of months, and allow them to make payments on Gary and Erica’s student loans. At this point we don’t know how long Gary’s recovery will take, or how long the family will need to stay in Vancouver, so anything you can give is a huge help for Gary, Erica, Alea, Erin, Bree and Keira during this difficult time.
Thanks so much for your love and concern.
Over the last 20 months, Gary has battled many complications, but he continually fought to come back to his family. Even though we all wish this story had a different ending, Gary was strong and selfless to the end and Erica and the girls are grateful for every second that they had with him.
Gary was a beloved, hardworking, intelligent, funny and amazing husband and father, son, brother and friend. Everyone who knew him couldn’t help but love him and there will forever be a hole in the world where he once was.
As it is there are a few wheelchair vans that are available, but there are even less AWD SUV or 4x4 trucks being sold second hand. It is possible to get a truck or SUV converted to be wheelchair accessible, but this involves the initial expense of purchasing a vehicle, then another 20 thousand dollars for conversions.
Ideally, we'd love to find something that would make Erica feel safe driving Gary in and out of home no matter what the weather is. At this point, we are researching any and all options available, but I thought it would help to put this plea out to the Facebook/ Go Fund Me community as well, in case you know of anyone selling a vehicle like this.
Erica is also hoping to inquire into any grants that might help her make this large purchase, such as the Rotary Club, SASCU, or the legion. I thought someone in our larger community might know how to navigate this kind of application and could help Erica with the process.
Thanks again for standing with the Bakers in this "marathon" of recovery.
"Well so much for updating everyone more often!
Life has been as intensely busy and as difficult as ever with this move. Maybe more. Settling Gary in and all new staff and therapists to get to know (who I already love...they are great) and then working to get some kind of schedule and routine going for Gary so he can make some progress is more challenging than it sounds. Also settling the girls into 3 different houses and 4 different schools was a bit of a stretch! Gary was doing really well for quite a while but then managed to get his 4th C.diff infection! That was scary considering any infection or stress can trigger seizures. He has mostly recovered from that and overall is doing pretty great. The therapists are hopeful about reapplying for rehab at Halvar Jonson! We are already working on it as much as possible and I feel that Gary is even better off than he was the last time we applied. The only issue now is the trache. Halvar Jonson won’t take patients with traches. That is the next big step so for anyone that wants to help...you can pray for or visualize Gary's muscles in his throat getting stronger. Picture him breathing freely and effortlessly through his nose and mouth and hopefully the process will be smooth and easy!
The past month has been really hard for me emotionally though. All the memories of Gary and of our life are so much more potent the closer we are to home. I find it really hard having 3 of my girls gone, spread out all over the place too. It’s so tough to help them and to stay connected when life is so crazy. I miss them. I’m glad I have Keira with me though…she gives amazing hugs whenever I need them. There is also just so much to do to make it possible for Gary to recover! It is never ending and I am so tired but every detail is so vital to his recovery! This week has been exceptionally hard with his discharge looming closer and closer. I am just overwhelmed with so many major, important decisions and issues that need constant attention.
….....So I was just in the middle of this update on Thursday night when I got a call from the hospital. Gary had a seizure. He actually ended up having two that night. Both responded to medication and he is okay and stable, but very tired. I have been fearing this day for a long time. The risk of the seizures becoming refractory and sending him back to ICU is terrifying. I have to say it was actually a relief to know he could have one and it could be quickly managed and resolved with medication. I still didn’t really sleep all night but he is okay…that's the main thing!
Just to end on a more positive note…Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day. I was able to give Gary a good long bit of therapy while he lay in the sun. The girls and I also gave him a stylin haircut and in the evening had a visit from family. When I was in later that night, I asked Gary how he was feeling and he “said” (spelled out): V..E..R..Y….L..O..V..E..D"
We have been asked so many times now if we are excited to go "home." It's a little difficult to describe our feelings on this move. It definitely isn't "going home." Kelowna is still far away from home so this really is just another relocation, another stretch of living out of suitcases and boxes. It is surprisingly sad to be leaving Vancouver. We have grown to really love so many people here and we have finally settled into a place that we consider "home." A place that has our good books, our comfortable places to sit and has even started to smell like us. Going to Kelowna also means another community of medical people to be introduced to Gary and convinced that, despite his appearance, he IS there, he is aware and listening and understanding everything! And he STILL has the potential to recover even though its been almost a year and a half!
I think I also feel nervous for everyone who will come to see him. I'm really glad that being closer to home will potentially mean more friends and family can come visit...but...I don't think it is easy knowing what to expect or how to interact with someone who is so injured. It's really isn't easy. And I am protective of him and his dignity. At this point Gary doesn't move much. He can't talk, and his vision has been badly affected so he doesn't make much eye contact. So unless you are one of those people that is great a carrying on a one sided conversation, it's hard. He will recover slowly, but right now I think it is challenging to see past the wheelchair, the trache tube sticking out of his throat and the unresponsiveness. It's hard not to treat him differently. But I will tell you what I do...I keep who "Gary" is fresh in my mind. The Gary who is brilliant and fun, a storyteller and a super social guy who cares about people and has this gift of being able to make everyone feel soooo good about themselves! He is strong and stubborn, he laughs with his chin tucked in a little and his eyes shining. If you can keep who Gary is in the front of your mind and remember that same Gary is still there, just buried under so much injury, then it is easier to talk to him with hope and encouragement and with respect for who he is and for how much he has fought through. I asked him a few days ago how he was feeling and his response (spelled out in a painstakingly slow process) was "I feel trapped." I can't even imagine how horrible that must be, but it will improve in time. For now we just need patience...more patience, a lot of love and little ways to make his life marginally better every day.
Wishing you all a peaceful holiday and Christmas from our family.
I am a friend of Jen. I am so sorry for your loss. May the strength of prayers and love of friends help make your journey through grief more bearable. ♥
Hi Bakers! Erin is staying with her aunt on my street and we ran into each other. It was like those old movies when two people are running down the beach toward each other. I stopped my car and yelled," Erin!" And she yelled "Mrs Cheek!" We had a big hug and talked about what she was doing in SA. I loved teaching Erin and I couldn't believe how grown up she is. Love to Brie and all of you lovely Bakers! Pat xoxo. My healing thoughts are with you. xo
Hi Gary and Family! I just found out today that this happened last August. I'm so very sorry for you Gary and feel terribly bad for the family...including your parents! Owen and Audrey were the BEST dorm parents I had. I will pray for you daily. I travel often and occasionally make it to Vancouver. I'd love to have your mailing adresss. Maybe, someday I will get to stop by and bear hug and old mate? God is GOOD my friend! Big hugs to your mom!
We incredibly sad to hear about this! Even more sad that none of knew about this until now! We love the Baker family and know they have already been through so much tragedy! We are praying for miracles & that Gary will have a full recovery much sooner than expected! Please give them our love and tell them we are praying for all of them! I hope it's ok that I shared this on Facebook! Many many of Gary's fellow MK's will want to know! We are just so sad that we didn't know until now!! We loved the Baker family so much. They were such a joy & part of the "core" of our lives growing up in PNG. Hopefully we can all pitch in to help out this precious family!
Still thinking of you all.