Behind every great idea is a story. This project is no different. There have been momentous advances, and there have been discouraging downturns in our attempts to move forward. At times, it seemed like things were at a standstill, or worse, going backwards. But through sheer perseverance and a tremendous amount of support, the World’s Most Pet Friendly House is speeding full steam ahead towards our goal. This is the story that led to where we are today.
I began to experience health concerns in early 2008. Shortly after celebrating my wife and I’s wedding anniversary, I made the decision to visit a walk-in clinic to try to get to the bottom of things. The clinic doctor did a routine blood pressure test, and the results were quite shocking—230/132! I was not imagining things. I was seriously ill, and the doctor advised that I must get to a hospital immediately or risk a heart attack or stroke. I was admitted to hospital, and the doctors began a series of tests. On day 3 of my hospitalization in June of 2008, I found myself in the CCU with Dr. Masstada, a nephrologist (kidney doctor). I could not have foreseen how this visit would forever change my life. I was unprepared to hear the words,
“David, you have a kidney functionality of 13 percent.
You need a transplant.”
This news completely perplexed me. I had gone to the doctor complaining of headaches. They had been plaguing me for weeks, and I hadn’t been able to find any relief.
Kidney problems? What did my kidneys have to do with my headaches?
The timing could not have been worse. My wife was five months pregnant with our son. I couldn’t afford to be the one undergoing a kidney transplant and a lengthy recovery time at this critical time in our family. Yet, it had to happen.
Of course, there was a bigger obstacle to face. Sourcing a kidney donor that would be a correct match could prove incredibly difficult. Many people in need of a kidney transplant wait months, even years, for a match. Fortunately for me, my sister Brenda volunteered to donate one of hers. Unlike so many others, I would not have to wait for my miracle.
April 7th, 2009 was the fateful day when I received my kidney transplant at Foothills Medical Center. It was a textbook case operation with everything proceeding as smoothly as it possibly could. My body was on the road to a full recovery. Unfortunately, my mind was a different story.
Following the transplant and subsequent recovery time, I began to struggle emotionally for the first time in my life. I began to feel as though I was losing total control. I had spent my life as an active, healthy person; now, I was dependent upon a handful of pills several times a day as well as monthly blood tests and frequent doctors’ visits to keep me alive. This mental shift was very taxing on me. Though my body had accepted the kidney and was getting stronger every day, I was consumed by the fear that eventually my kidneys would fail and I would die. I could not escape my worries, and I imploded.
My struggles were not limited to my physical or emotional health. Those in and of themselves are a heavy burden for any person to carry. The challenges I was facing affected my family financially as my wife had to assume the responsibilities for providing for our family, and our marriage began to suffer as well.
I continued to build websites, but they weren’t generating any revenue to support my family just yet. I had nothing to invest in them to help them grow, and I felt helpless to solve this problem. I had been gainfully self-employed my entire life, and for the first time since I was a teenager, that just was no longer a viable option for me. Unable to function in my former career capacity, I took a job as a laborer at Bracko Brothers Furniture in Calgary. The physical labor was a tremendous help to me; more than I had realized that it could be, and it felt good to be able to contribute to putting food on the table for my family again. It was during this time that I hit rock bottom. In the pit of my misery, I became determined to find healing for myself and my marriage, and I began to take steps to repair the damage that had been done.
My first attempts came through reading. I read books like You’re a BadAss by Jen Sincero and Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop. I slowly began to rebuild my confidence through the inspirational messages of Tony Robbins and Peter Sage. And when it all became a little too much, I belted out my favorite tunes by Pink, Fallout Boy, Eminem, and Taylor Swift. At nearly 50 years old, it was similar music enjoyed by our nearly teenage daughter that became my salvation. And an amazing thing happened…the healing process began.
Sometimes it takes a devastating blow to bring complete clarity. Receiving the gift of life through a kidney transplant should have filled me with gratitude and hope. Instead, it had pushed me into seeing my body as a failure. This impacted me greatly and affected my ability to believe in myself. I went into the kidney transplant confident, but I came out shaken, and I just couldn’t figure out how to find my way.
The World’s Most Pet Friendly House has been a project that is many years in the making. My health issues and subsequent struggles provided a significant delay to its progress. Though our economy did suffer a fairly severe recession during these years, it only played a minor role in the temporary derailment of my vision. I had not anticipated the mental struggle which would take me on a journey so far away from the completion of my dream. It took time to weather the storm and to fight my way back.
The truth is it is never easy to acknowledge that you are struggling, and it is even harder to share with others something that is so incredibly difficult and personal. In the midst of my “funk”, I could not rationalize or even find the words to explain what was happening inside my brain. Even if I could have, it was not something I was comfortable sharing with others.
Over time, I learned that the path back to wellness includes acknowledging to yourself and those you love that you are struggling. It is the first step to being able to regroup, and ultimately, to heal.
Today, the project is back on track and rapidly advancing towards the goal. We are in the building process. As with my journey back from my struggles, we are taking things one step at a time. First, we build this site. From there, we can begin work on raising the necessary funds through advertising and sponsorships. It is our expectation to break ground on the building site in the summer of 2020.
Our immediate goal is to build our first home in Calgary, but the dream does not stop there. One day, The Pet Friendly House will build homes in Australia and the United States to name but a few places in our world.
We want to provide something that is different; something unique and special. Through this great project, we hope to bring awareness to the need for responsible, loving pet ownership. But integrally linked to that is our desire to promote the need for organ donors on a worldwide scale. Without an organ donor making such a selfless gift to me, this project would not have survived. These two causes are at the heart of the World’s Most Pet Friendly House.
Today, I am strong, happier, and healthy. I am grateful for the support of my wife, children, family and friends who have helped me to be better today than I was before befalling all of this. Perhaps you too have struggled, I encourage you to reach out for help regardless if its through a professional, books or music. If you need a little music to get you through, our daughter has just the playlist for you.
To Learn More about the Pet Friendly House Project – Click Here