My name is Karma Wolsey, and I am born and raised Fort St. John proud. I have known Wade and Gayle for years. I worked with Wade, Gayle and I were pregnant at the same time with our youngest boys that now play hockey together, Eric worked for us after school and through the summer. This family is near and dear to my heart. It’s a family that is typical to our area, they represent so many. Wade works hard in the oil patch to support his wife Gayle, and their 3 boys. Gayle is like so many mothers in this town, she volunteers at the schools, she is involved in FSJ Minor Hockey and is often on her own while Wade works. All they want to do is raise their family and build a comfortable life for themselves. Like all of us do. They never ask for help, they work hard and love hard. This spring, tragedy has struck their home, and has been progressively getting worse. You will read Gayle’s own words below about their journey to date. Eric is an amazing kid that is going through the battle of his young life, and I personally know exactly what he is facing. All the emotions, all the fears, all the what if’s and uncertainties. He NEEDS his family! The Coulam’s need our help Fort St. John, Eric needs our help. Let’s not let this family struggle through this alone. We need to pull together like I know Fort St. John can!
I just want to say thank you for your support through this nightmare. We honestly are so confused and heartbroken to be able to think straight. We are not ones to ask for help, and this is very foreign territory.
This is incredibly hard to process and put thoughts down for something I never thought imaginable.
Our son Eric Coulam was a regular 18year old, living his life to the fullest! He coached hockey, rode dirt bikes, trekked into the bush camping, hung out with friends and liked to work on engines! Eric graduated high school early and perused his goal of becoming a heavy duty mechanic by starting his level 1 apprenticeship in college.
Last October Eric’s health began to decline, he spent numerous hours waiting in drs offices and emergency rooms trying to find answers as to why he was so sick. Eric was admitted to hospital at the beginning of March, and has remained in hospital since. Northern Health failed to diagnose a serious medical issue which in turn resulted in his bowel twisting, rupturing and emergency surgery in Dawson creek. From March 30 to April 05 Eric was in a medically induced coma in Grande Prairie ICU, where he underwent multiple surgeries to try and save his small bowel. Unfortunately, the damage being so severe his bowels could not function, it was determined IV nutrition (TPN) was the only option to nutritionally support his body. On April 15, Eric was transferred to a gastrointestinal specialist in Edmonton where he could receive specialized medical treatment. After months of multiple scans, tests, blood transfusions, continuous antibiotics, and a decision that his body was not accepting the TPN as nutrition it was decided another major surgery was to take place. During this surgery, July 08, Eric’s small bowel needed to be removed, and a transplant being his only option. The transplant consult has determined he is in need of a multiviceral transplant, which includes his liver, kidneys,pancreas and small bowel. This is a very rare transplant and as with any, holds many unknown variables. Eric now only weights 73lbs, I cry as I write this, his donor must not only match his blood and tissue type, but also his weight range.
We as a family are living through pain and heartbreak as we watch our son/brother/grandchild/cousin/nephew endure his greatest challenge in life so far from home, away from family, friends and loved ones. We have been travelling back and forth from FSJ and AB for the last five months, staying with family two hours from the city, and as often as possible, in hotels to be closer to him. Eric’s dad has been working tirelessly to maintain our finances, as well as, travelling back and forth to Edmonton for visits. Eric also has two little brothers who miss him and don’t fully understand the emotional aspects of all going on.
Not only is Eric going through this nightmare, he has also just turned 19... imagine spending your 19th birthday in the hospital. There is not one person who could fathom what he is dealing with emotionally.
We are faced with the reality that we cannot do this alone. We need help. Not only is the financial burden catching up to us, we need to look towards the future and the medical costs associated with transplant. Eric will need to be on very expensive immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of his life. Though we do have extended medical, this will only cover so much. Eric will also need to be within distance of the transplant centre in Edmonton for a minimum of 3 months post transplant. We have been told at that time there is accommodations available at $900/month. Again another reality as to how will will afford our mortgage, home expenses and accommodations for us in Edmonton. Family has also been flying in from the coast to try and maintain some semblance of normalcy for the younger boys as we support Eric through this.
Anyone who knows Eric, knows what a wonderful, kind hearted and intelligent human being he is, how his sense of humour will make even the hardest of people laugh and what a promising future he had going for himself. The past six months have been absolutely devastating, to watch a strong, healthy teenager transform into an unrecognizeable shell of his former self is beyond heartbreaking. His story needs, and will be shared once this journey shows itself. For now, we just wish to be by his side helping him through the process.
- Jocylin Coulam
- Sally and Mac MacDonald
- Sheile Mercado-Mallari
- Dennis Szalai