Doreen Gutoskie; a local hero

BARRY’S BAY – Several hardships have touched the life of Doreen Gutoskie, but somehow, the 61-year-old Barry’s Bay resident finds a way to keep rolling with the punches.

Growing up in the area, Gutoskie was one of five siblings.
She grew up in the house she lives in now, and took possession of it in 1973.
At around 16 years of age, she began dating a local boy named Patrick Trabinskie. Originally from Paugh Lake, Trabinskie stayed in the area and began working for a timber company that kept him in the bush most days of the week.
Nearly 13 years later, Trabinskie was walking along the side of a road, near Madawaska Valley District High School, when he was suddenly hit by a speeding motor vehicle.
He was rushed to St. Francis Memorial Hospital and then to Ottawa and was paralyzed instantly.
“His sister lived close by the high school and the car hit him while he was walking. It was a younger person driving. It happened pretty quick,” Gutoskie recalled.
Initially, the doctors and nurses who received Trabinskie didn’t think he would survive the accident.
“The doctors thought he wasn’t going to make it,” she noted.
The horrific accident rendered Trabinskie as a quadriplegic and on November 20, Gutoskie will have taken care of him for 35 years.
It is fitting, then, that she is being nominated for a Champlain Community Care Access Centre Caregiver Recognition Award, at a ceremony to be held in Renfrew on November 29.
Reflecting on how her life changed in an instant, Gutoskie is extremely grateful for all of the support that she has received over the years.
“Oh, it made things a little bit different. I never really thought about that stuff before the accident, or if a person could end up that way. But with all of the help and support from everyone, it’s been easier. Those people have helped me get to where I am today. All of the doctors and nurses and occupational therapists and case managers, all of them have really been supportive. If I ever need help, they really help me out,” she added.
Insisting on maintaining the finer details of housework, Gutoskie has only ever had care-associated help at the house.
“Oh, they don’t do any housework. They just help him with his health and provide care for him,” she said.
As if life couldn’t throw her any more curveballs with the pain of her partner’s accident, Gutoskie also lost her son
Darcy, as he committed suicide 11 years ago.
Darcy was only 29-years-old at the time.
“August 11 was the 11-year anniversary of his death. We still think about him today, and we still miss him,” she said.
After being asked how she has ventured through the trials of her varied life, Gutoskie responded with a simple answer.
“Oh, I pray a lot. I don’t know where I’d be today without prayer. It’s very important to my life. You do get frustrated and worn down sometimes, but you just go day by day and whatever comes, comes,” she added.
Though she misses her son, Gutoskie is able to find hope in the small things in life and still enjoys her down time with her partner.
“He watches the news every day and we’ll watch it together. He’s into the Olympics, too, so we watch it and we still talk about everything,” she noted.
Over the years, Gutoskie has also been able to find solace in nature and by staying active in the great outdoors.
“I like nature. I like being able to be outside. Sometimes, when you’re inside for too long, you get tired and worn down. You need that fresh air. I’ve piled 10 cord of firewood before, just on my own. I do my housework and I shovel snow and cut the grass,” she added.
Never wondering about what her life would have looked like without the car accident, Gutoskie tries to stay focused on what lies ahead and has always enjoyed helping others.
“I try not to think about that stuff. He needs the care and I always was someone who liked to help people, even when I was much younger,” she noted.
Honoured by the upcoming award, she has been taken aback by the recognition.
“I just do what I can but I think it’s really something, this award. It’s a great honour to receive something like this,” she added.
Along the way, Gutoskie has met several caregivers and has always enjoyed hearing their stories.
“Sometimes, I would run into drugstores and this man was looking after his mom and his whole family drifted apart. And I realize that it’s tough for every caregiver to do all of the daily tasks and sometimes, it takes over everything, but we try our best,” she stated.
Receiving various forms of support from the community, the inspiring caregiver has also felt honoured by the priests and deacons of St. Hedwig Catholic Church who have conducted a holy communion at her home, once a month, for many years.
“That’s always been a big thing for us and I feel very honoured that they’ve done that for so long,” she added.

Story continues in the August 15 issue of The Valley Gazette.