< class="pagetitle">Archive for the “Life” Category

I just had a humbling experience at the bank.

As you may or may not know, I’m a rather independent person. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I used to take lots of things apart when I was young, just so I could see how they worked and put them back together. I like not having to rely on other people’s help to fix things, or get stuff done, you know?

In fact, part of my motivation for coming to Japan was that it would force me out of my comfort zone- because I knew I wouldn’t understand Japanese life, I knew I would be “off balance” and have to figure many things out anew. When I first arrived, I quickly discovered that you can’t have pride if you don’t understand your surroundings; you need to be willing to ask for help and rely on the kindness of strangers.

After living here for almost a year and a half though, you get into the routine of daily life, and it’s easy to forget the helplessness that was at first a daily experience.

Anyway, I recently completed the registration process for a GoLloyd’s account. It’s commonly recognized as the cheapest way to send money home, but I’d put off the signup process for a long time because it involves mailing copies of your passport and alien registration card to their headquarters in Tokyo with your application form. With the welcome packet, I received general instructions on how to transfer money using GoLloyd’s, and some pertinent terms in Japanese. Armed with their instructions and list of kanji, I went to my local bank to use an ATM to send some money, and quickly realized I was in over my head.

Japanese ATMs are wondrous pieces of machinery (one of which is pictured above), allowing you to complete all manner of transactions, including the inter-bank transfer I needed to do. Unfortunately, only a few ATMs have English menus, and only for basic functions. I fuddled my way around the menu system for a few minutes and got about halfway through the process while a bank employee stood about eight feet behind me, waiting to see if I needed help. I eventually gave up and tried to ask her, but ended up at a teller window after a brief wait in line. The teller then walked me back to the lobby attendant and asked her to help me do the transfer using the ATM. All semblance of self-reliance now gone, she read in Japanese from the help page GoLloyd’s sent (thank goodness they included Japanese instructions- written specifically to Japanese bank staff to help confused gaijin) and walked me through the process. I tried to follow along, but there were too many menus in kanji I didn’t understand, and knew I wouldn’t be able to repeat the process.

I’d heard that getting a separate ATM card specifically for transfers simplifies the process, so after the transfer was done, I asked her about getting one (so I could hopefully be self-reliant in the future). She kindly walked me back to the ATM and showed me that my ATM card stored the transfer settings for future use, making it even simpler than having a separate card for transfers. I thanked her profusely and left the bank.

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I’m going for a ride on the Shimanami Kaido bridges again tomorrow, so I figured I should at least post about my last trip first, to avoid any confusion. Serena, May, and I rode northbound from Imabari (Sunrise Itoyama, specifically) in the middle of Typhoon #6 a few months ago. (Japan numbers their large meteorological events instead of naming them. I guess it’s to keep them at arm’s length in case they don’t call in the morning.)

Sunrise Itoyama is a bicycle rental place in northern Imabari, very close to the start of the bridge system spanning the Seto Inland Sea. (I rented a bicycle instead of trying to ride my craptastic mama-chari one speed Japanese clunker of a city bike across sixty kilometers of sparsely populated islands and bridges.) It’s a beautiful ride, with bridges hopping across a series of islands that peek like giant stepping stones out of the water.

The weather forecast for the day said that the typhoon might be right where we were, but we were hoping it would just graze us. Regardless of the weather, we couldn’t change the details of the ride, as it had been organized as part of Bicycle for Everyone’s Earth (BEE), a group here in Japan that promotes environmentally conscious living through eco-friendly education and consumption. Each year they organize a two-month, 3000 kilometer ride from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido to the southernmost island of Kyushu, and the three of us joined them for the day they planned to ride north across the Seto Inland Sea.

So we all brought our rain gear, and it’s a good thing we did. It was just lightly sprinkling rain when we set out, but by the time we made it onto the first bridge, we were in the middle of a deluge. We turned around when we didn’t see the BEE team in the first bridge, as the rain just kept getting heavier and heavier. By the time we got back ten minutes after starting out, the water was deep enough on the street in front of the bike rental place that you couldn’t pedal- the water was above the pedals’ lowest point.

When we got back inside, we found the BEE team regrouping; they had set off just after us and come back just before us, and were already hard at work drying off their clothes. We talked to them about their travels while waiting for the rain to slack off a bit then and set back out on our grand adventure.

The day quickly turned into a series of fiascoes, though. The BEE team suffered through a number of flat tires, two broken spokes, and a broken rear pannier rack, and eventually told us three interlopers to go on ahead of them. That was the last we ever saw of the team…

We got a late start and were riding slow because of the rain, and as a result May was running short on time and had to bail in Omishima, just shy of the halfway point. Serena and I pressed on, actually making a wrong turn at one point that ended up being a “shortcut” through a rural area instead of following the major highway on the other side of the island.

It rained on and off the whole day, but luckily it was never as heavy as it was in the first ten minutes. It also got dark surprisingly quickly. Fortunately, a couple of the bridges had separate, well-lit decks for bicycles. It was totally dark by the time we arrived in Omishima, which was an unanticipated problem. The rental place had ostensibly closed an hour before we arrived, but there was still an old man sitting in a shack on their lot, whom we convinced to take out bikes off our hands. Then we had to figure out how to get back to Matsuyama. “The guy” at Sunrise Itoyama said there was a late southbound bus back across the bridge system, but it wasn’t running that Sunday. By the time we realized the late bus didn’t exist, the last actual bus had, in fact, just left the bus depot.

One of the waiting bus drivers took pity on our plight once we managed to explain it, and he got a waiting taxi driver to take us through some super-secret door on the highway overpass to a pickup point just ahead of that last bus we needed, where he personally waited with us and made sure we got on the bus. I tell you, between learning that the depot had no more buses home, figuring out how to get help in Japanese, and waiting for the bus on the bridge, that was a seriously stressful hour or so, and I am still amazed at the generosity of the Japanese people.

The bus ride back to Imabari was uneventful, Serena and I just unwinding from the day. Then it was an easy train ride back into Matsuyama and blissful recuperative sleep.

Wow! Now I’m ready to go do it again! πŸ˜€

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If I talked to you before I went to the states on my winter vacation, I probably told you the thing I was looking forward to the most was the food.

It’s not that I didn’t miss the people, but thanks to the internet and the occasional phone call, I still had a sense of participation in my friends’ lives. Food, however, is poorly represented over the wire.

I actually kept a food diary to help me remember each meal and avoid duplications. I’ll spare you the tedium of reciting every meal and hit the highlights of my trip. Oh yeah, and I might mention the people I hung out with and the stuff we did. πŸ˜‰

My first meal in the US was with Marvin at Norm’s, a locally well-known diner in West Hollywood. I was, of course, shocked at the size of my mushroom & swiss cheese burger, but oh, was it tasty. Dinner was my first dose of Mexican food at El Coyote on Beverly Boulevard (coincidentally where Sharon Tate and friends ate their last meal before they were done in by the Manson clan). Being a Jewish household, Marvin also quickly helped me get some bagels and lox back in my system the next morning.

Brian, me, and Nat

I drove to Vegas in the morning of the 20th (passing the snow you see in the picture above) to see Shannon & Kevin get married in the afternoon. The wedding, held at Red Rock Country Club, was gorgeous. The ceremony was outside, and even though Las Vegas is in the middle of a desert, the end of December is pretty cold, so I felt a bit sorry for the ladies in the wedding party as they shivered their way through the vows Kevin and Shannon composed. I was a little surprised the club didn’t bring out any of those freestanding portable heaters, actually. The reception was great too, and I liked their idea of having the wedding party actually sit at normal tables so they could eat with their families and friends instead of isolating them at the front of the room. The meal was a classy prime rib buffet with a host bar.

The next day I saw Brian & Claudia’s house and Greg & Allison’s house. They bought houses quite near each other in central Las Vegas, near where Shannon & Kevin live. That evening was the (4th?) annual Vegas group white elephant party, at Brad & Vanessa’s house this year. I brought a grab bag of assorted Japanese stuff, including an uchiwa (non-folding Japanese fan), a packet of Japanese tissues, and a hand-drying towel like everyone carries in Japan. I brought chicken egg rolls and a turkey sandwich to complement the pizza, hummus & pita, and salad that was already there. It was a fun evening, but I left my camera at my mom’s house, so I don’t have any pictures to share.

On Monday, I drove with my mom out to Bakersfield for a meeting with my grandfather and a long-term care provider. He’s 87 now, and not exactly in the best of health. I guess having TIAs (mini strokes) every few months will do that to you. πŸ™

Excepting the addition of my grandfather’s little-used computer, his home’s décor hasn’t really changed much in the last thirty years. I suppose my mother looks a little different in this picture than she did growing up there, too. My grandfather and his wife get to stay in their house for now, with a health care worker there twelve hours a day. It’s the best situation for all involved.

While we were there, I worked on his computer, and my mom helped them sort out some stuff that they wanted her advice on. I also got to drive his first generation RX-7, which I always enjoy.

We ate at Lam’s Chinese restaurant one night and El Torito Mexican restaurant the next. I also had one of my perennial breakfast favorites, Kashi Crunch. It’s a cold cereal of “crunchy clusters made from Kashi Seven Whole Grains and Sesame,” with just a hint of cinnamon.

As luck would have it, a good friend and younger neighbor of theirs happens to be an RN, and she stops in about once a day to check on them as well, so I think my mom and I left them in good hands.

Me with the Tehachapi windmills in the background

On the way home, we ate brunch at Kelcy’s Restaurant in Tehachapi. This place has a surprisingly rich history, having survived through seventy five years and a rebuilding after a 7.7 earthquake, much of which is displayed photographically on its walls. I took their last order of freshly-made homestyle biscuits and gravy for the day. I can’t imagine a more stereotypically American breakfast than biscuits & gravy eaten in a roadside diner served by an aging career waitress who calls everyone “darlin’.” Good stuff.

Christmas itself was pretty low key. I was at my mom’s in the morning, and we hung out and talked for most of the day. I had a few presents for her from Japan, and between the garage door she bought me and her plan to take me shopping on Boxing Day, I was well taken care of. We lit Hanukkah candles in the evening and then went over to a family friend’s house for Christmas dinner.

At Angel’s house, I met her daughters Morgan, Kelsey, and Taylor (again?). Taylor is a freshman at the Academy, Kelsey just graduated from the Academy (vocal performance major) and is a freshman at UNR, and Morgan’s been out of school for a short while now, I believe. Kelsey and I had a lot to talk about with our shared past at the Academy and UNR. She and Taylor are both taking Japanese, and were very interested to hear about my experiences in Japan.

Of course, being Christmas dinner, there was a lot of delicious food to be had (and Dr. Pepper, which I believed until very recently to be completely unavailable in Japan). Angel made the traditional meal, with roast turkey, honey-glazed ham, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. I was in heaven. Remember that scene in Ratatouille where Anton Ego tastes the ratatouille, and is transported back to his childhood? It kind of felt like I was really home, eating that meal. The Peaks have always been great cooks. πŸ™‚

The next morning, I woke up to homemade blueberry and blackberry pancakes. I spent Boxing Day at the mall with my mom shopping for clothes, and again felt like I was transported back a dozen years. This time though, the experience wasn’t as pleasant. As much as I love my mom, it’s frustrating to shop with someone who doesn’t share your needs or fashion taste, especially when that person is funding the outing. I really got a feeling for what gets under my brother’s skin when he stays at her house on school vacations.

At the end of the day though, I was extraordinarily grateful for my mother’s largesse. I got the clothes I needed, and spent some time with my mother as two people, rather than mother and child. Lunch was at the mall food court, my only falafel of the trip.

That evening, I went over to Susan & Neil’s with Shannon Wood, and I remembered how different Pizza Hut in Japan is from Pizza Hut in the US. Japanese people seem to like their pizza soaked in oil with extra oil in little packets to drizzle on top. I’m not even kidding- instead of crushed red pepper, they give you packets of what seems like really mild green chili oil to drizzle on top of your pizza. The only good pizza I’ve had in Japan is from this little Italian hole in the wall near Okaido. They have an actual wood-fired oven where you can watch your pizza baking. Anyway, we spent the evening relaxing in front of the Wii (my first go at Wii Fit) and watching videos on YouTube through their NetFlix and YouTube-connected DVR. I tell you, digital convergence has come a long way.

I still hear those old Life commercials in my head when I eat Life cereal (“Mikey likes it!”), as I did the next morning. Lunch was a massive Chipotle burrito before contra dancing.

If you aren’t familiar with it, contra dancing is an American social dance with roots in English and French folk dancing. It’s a “called” dance, which means that everyone is doing the same thing at the same time, kind of like a square dance. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds, especially with an energetic crowd. When groups of my friends were regularly going to contra dances a few years ago, we totally dominated the floor.

While I’m in Japan, my mom is taking care of my beagle Ellie for me. When my brother moved out of the house, my mother developed a mild case of empty-nest syndrome, and with me out of the country, Ellie and my mom get along fantastically.

The next morning, the three of us went to a dog park for a beagle meetup. About a dozen beagles descended on Desert Breeze dog park at the same time. There was much howling, running, and butt-sniffing. The dog park also has a surprisingly clear view of the Las Vegas skyline. If you click on the picture and open the magnified version, you can see most of the major Las Vegas casinos in the background. Incidentally, what you see is a typical Las Vegas clear blue sky.

After the dog park, I had what was probably my favorite meal of the trip- a fantastic “everything” bagel and lox platter with my mother at The Bagel Cafe. This restaurant has won numerous awards for their food since they opened about ten years ago. It was my first time eating there, and they certainly lived up to their reputation.

We chose a mid-grade salmon for our shared 4oz platter, and it was the perfect amount of fish. The veggies were fresh and crisp, the orange juice was freshly-squeezed, the bagels were baked fresh, and the smoked salmon was to die for. (My mouth is actually watering right now as I write this and look at the picture.) If you’re ever passing through Vegas, I highly recommend you visit The Bagel Cafe.

That evening, I went out with Shannon Wood and about ten friends to celebrate her birthday at Sushi on Rainbow. I was curious to see how my memory of Las Vegas sushi compared with my more recent memory of Japanese sushi. I was pretty much right on; Japanese sushi is fresher (duh), softer, and tastier. Another big difference is the form they each take. Japanese sushi centers around nigiri sushi, the prototypical fish-slice-atop-a-bed-of-rice kind, and American (from my experience anyway) sushi seems more focused on rolls, the more unique the better. Anyway, my favorite is still salmon nigiri. BTW, next time you have sushi, ask for raw onion shavings on top of your salmon, maybe with a smidgen of mayonnaise if you like mayo. I’m not kidding, try it.

In the morning my mom made one of my comfort foods, matzo brie. Along with “English” muffins, I’m always at peace if I have some hot matzo brie in front of me.

The next day, I went to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve with Brian, Claudia, Jesse, Tony, Barbara, and Allison (where we “accidentally” got in free when we came in through the cafe where people usually leave). New Year’s Eve brought a party at Hejmanowski House, which was a normal party, I guess, but felt so strange to me. Maybe I was already subconsciously disconnecting because I knew I was about to leave my friends again, or perhaps I was on edge because I was nervous about making the flight to Colorado, but I didn’t quite feel at ease. I had to leave rather unceremoniously at 1am to drive to Los Angeles to make an 11am flight to Denver for the last leg of my trip.

From Denver, I took a shuttle to Eagle to spend a couple relaxed days with Kyria and her family, a nice end cap to the hustle of outings in Las Vegas. We all played a fair bit of Mario Kart Wii and Rock Band (on the PS3), something I’d missed out on in Vegas. We also just sat around watching movies and cooking, which was novel for me. She lives in a beautiful mountain town with her beautiful family. On my last day there, we made these most incredible pumpkin spice cookies that I actually carried with me, in a little plastic container, through the six airports it took me to get back to Matsuyama. I tell you, I savored each one of those over the next month I made them last.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. An expensive trip, but worth it.

So, when are you coming to visit me? πŸ˜€

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Since I’m dragging my feet on my winter vacation post, maybe a quick change of pace will help, so here’s your randomness for the day.

I was sick over my birthday in November. Sick enough to go to a doctor, in fact. Ms. Semba gave me a mask to wear while I slept, with a neat semi-medicated insert. The insert was impregnated with a weakly mediciney-smelling liquid, designed to help keep your nasal passages from getting irritated. Here, for your amusement, I present the picture I took in my bathroom mirror. If you look closely, you can see the holes cut in the insert to allow the wearer to breathe easier.

The doctor’s visit was a trip in itself. He must have been about seventy years old, with one of the worst comb-overs I’ve ever seen, and it looked like he’d not cleaned his desk since he started practicing medicine. He seriously had stacks of paper higher than his head as he was sitting at his desk. The only part he could get to was a small area in the middle- just enough to lay out three or four A4 pages next to each other.

Anyway, he took a cursory look at my throat and threw a whole mess of prescriptions at me: a decongestant, an antiviral(!), something Ms. Semba couldn’t identify, a “Western” antibiotic, an herbal “Eastern” antibiotic (which I could have had as a powder for tea, but chose pill form), and something to settle my stomach from all the other medicines. I think if I’d had elephantitis, it couldn’t have withstood that onslaught. Needless to say, I was all better well before my week-long course of pills ran out. (Another interesting note- the doctor’s office itself dispensed my prescriptions. They gave me blister packs with exactly the number of pills I’d need in a large envelope.)

On my actual birthday, Ms. Semba and Mariya gave me this card. Here’s the text she wrote in the card: “David, You are a precious teacher of ALS, Matsuyama, and you are our nice coworker and friend. When you are sick, we are lavish with help!” Aww. πŸ™‚

In other random news, as I was sitting down to dinner at a local udon shop tonight, a waiter stopped at my table and in heavily accented English proclaimed “Yes, we can!” before carrying on about his business with a smile.

That totally made my night. =)

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I have one student with whom I’ve been struggling almost continuously since I started teaching English with ALS. (This picture of her is from the school’s Halloween party.) She’s a cute little six-year old, but her parents are a bit older than average, and let her get away with murder at home.

I’ve seen her hit her mom, and her mother mildly scold her for it, to the daughter’s squealing delight, if that gives you any idea.

Anyway, because she knows no consequences outside of the classroom, I’ve had to introduce her to the concept inside the classroom. She doesn’t much care for not getting her way all the time, but she’s seemed to pay me more and more respect (or at least lip service) over the last few months.

Fast forward to today, her first lesson after the school’s winter break.

She was an absolute angel. She listened to me, she was focused on her studies, she nicely collected and handed me the word cards we were using without being asked, even using “Here you are” and “You’re welcome” without prompting.

I don’t know what was different for her today, but I hope it happens every day she has a lesson. =)

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eagleplaneHaving seen six airports in the last twenty-four hours, I’m now back from vacation.

I took this picture on Sunday morning just after 6:00am as I was walking through the snow on the runway at Eagle County Airport. From this tiny regional airport, I flew to Denver, then Seattle, then Narita (Tokyo’s international airport). I took a bus from Narita to Haneda (Tokyo’s domestic airport), then flew the last leg to Matsuyama. And boy, are my arms tired.

Taking a page out of Claudia’s book, I’m leaving this brief. I plan to give you all the details of my fabulous time in the US in the next couple of days.

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I’m an uncle! My sister gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. πŸ™‚


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I think I’ll forever associate the summer of 2007 with my right knee. I managed to break it on May 25th, at Greg Lull’s bachelor party on Lake Mead. I was waterskiing behind a Yamaha VX110 WaveRunner, and managed to twist my right ski to the right while moving at speed. I say “at speed” because it felt like I was flying, but really I was probably moving somewhere between five and ten miles per hour- not super fast. I’ve been snow skiing for almost 25 years, and my automatic response to what I felt was too much speed was to turn and use an edge to stop, which, in case you’re wondering, is not the way to stop on water skis. I now hear that “letting go” is more effective.

What fun! This is the beast we were using to tow the skis, too.

Anyway, I turned my ski to the right with weight on it and fell forward, buckling my knee to the inside. I didn’t hear a crack or a pop or anything like that, so I didn’t have any immediate feedback that it was broken, but oh my gosh, it hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt. I screamed. I screamed a monosyllabic plea to Greg, who had been piloting the WaveRunner, I screamed to Meredith, who was on a jetski nearby, I screamed to anything with ears. I’ve never felt like life jackets were all that necessary for me, because I’m a very strong swimmer, but the PFD I was wearing really helped me because I could hold my leg with my two arms and just float there. I tell you, it made a real believer in life jackets out of me.

Something is definitely wrong, here…

I floated there for some number of minutes while Greg went and got the boat from the cove where we had “parked.” Brad and someone else each grabbed one of my arms and lifted me straight out of the water and set me on deck on my butt, where I crab-walked, dragging my limp leg across the deck to a bench, where I struggled to find a comfortable position in which to assess my leg for damages. I tried to flex all the muscles in my knee and ankle to make sure I could still do so, and I had bent my knee in the water, so I didn’t feel like anything was actually broken, but the pain told me something was definitely very wrong. Because we didn’t have any on board, Greg and Nat sped off via jetski to the marina to buy a variety of pain relievers for me. While they were gone, I decided there was no way I could finish out the day with the pain increasing the way it was. They returned, and I took a dose each of aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen and drank a Smirnoff Ice while we returned to the dock.

You can see Meredith in Nat’s car in the background, waiting for me.

Look at the comparative sizes of my knees, already.

Nat was nice enough to lend his car to Meredith, who drove me to “Advanced Urgent Care” at Eastern and St. Rose. I put that in quotes because I didn’t see anything during my 2.5 hour wait or 20 minute visit that would qualify them for any of those three words. After the physician’s assistant (they didn’t have an MD on site) grabbed my thigh and shin and moved them in various opposing directions to my extreme delight, he said I needed an MRI and sent me San Martin, the new St. Rose Dominican Hospital campus that often has little or no ER wait because it’s so new. So with the assistance of one of their wheelchairs, I got back in the car with Meredith, and packed off to Warm Springs and Decatur.

What apparently no one knew at the time was that San Martin doesn’t do emergency MRIs, except in cases of spinal compression. What they did do however, was x-ray my leg with a neat portable x-ray machine and tell me for the first time that not only was my leg broken, but that it would take surgery to fix. Fuck.

You can’t really see much of the break here, but look closely at the angle of the upper right of my tibia, and you can get a sense of what’s going on.

Here I am in the ER, waiting for my room assignment.

Next thing I knew, I had a plastic bracelet with my name on it, and was being wheeled up to a numbered room, where they told me to try to get some sleep because my surgery was the next morning. Immediately after I fell asleep, the nurse came back and told me I was going for a CT scan which had been rescheduled to that night because my surgery had been rescheduled for earlier in the morning. Meredith and I met my surgeon the next morning, who seemed very cool, and tried to put me at ease by describing the surgery she was about to perform. They wheeled me into the OR, and I woke up in the recovery room. Actually, “woke up” is too strong- it was really more like I spent the next 24 hours zig-zagging drunkenly across a blurred line between waking and nonexistence. I didn’t dream, time seemed to just fall away from me while I wasn’t paying attention.

My new appliance. I’d rather have a new dishwasher. Cheaper, too.

Meredith stayed the night with me again (as she did all four nights I was there), and I adjusted over the next few days to the sight of my new external fixator and figured out how to live around it. I had lessons on how to use crutches on stairs, figured out how to pee in a bottle while sitting upright in bed, and became very acquainted with the little button in my right hand that released a dose of morphine into my IV. I had (and still have) to constantly keep ice on it because of the swelling, and couldn’t sleep very well because of the pain (can’t hit that morphine button once you actually fall asleep). Incidentally, if you have to be hospitalized, I highly recommend San Martin, as they have in-room TV (although no Comedy Central) and internet terminals. I had visitors every day I was there- Isaac came on Saturday, Greg & Nat came on Sunday, as did Isaac (again) & my mom and Marc & Lesley. Jenny & Kyria left a box of goodies for me on Sunday night, and Kyria returned the next day with Mike to actually visit. My mom was also there again on Monday and Tuesday. I was discharged on Tuesday afternoon with a prescription for home health visits from an RN, and an appointment to see my surgeon/Dr. again the following Monday.

Even as nice as San Martin is, having to stay in a hospital still sucks. The green box on the IV stand is my morphine lock box.

That’s basically where I still am now, but my staples and sutures have been removed as of Monday, and there’s vague verbage from my Dr. about possibly scheduling the surgery to remove the fixator after my next series of x-rays. If they don’t go well, however, she may want to put a plate on the tibia to further stabilize the wedge that broke off, so I’m still caught in a waiting game. I really hope I don’t need that plate.

I can’t move my knee (obviously) or rotate my hip because the external fixator goes through my quads into my femur. I can’t put any weight on my leg, but I can still move my ankle, at least. I get around the house on crutches, but if I spend more than a few minutes vertical, my leg and foot balloon up like a gallon of mercury in a surgical glove. I have to keep my leg elevated, and there’s a constant cycle of ice packs from the freezer to my leg, but Meredith tells me it looks like the swelling is slowly going down. Every day, Meredith removes my bandages, cleans the incision and pin sites, and replaces the bandages. She’s been absolutely awesome, basically living at my house and helping me retain some semblance of normalcy (if that’s even possible) while driving me to doctor’s appointments, x-rays, and everything else to maintain the household.

Meredith and I stopped by my work last week to let them know I was still alive, and Sara took this picture.

Meredith thinks I look like a cancer patient here.

Marvin sent me this as a get well gift. He teaches violin to Julia Sweeney’s daughter.

I have Percocet, Skelaxin, and Keflex to keep me company while she’s at work. I can just barely replace my own ice if she’s not around, but eating anything more complex than a Clif Bar or can of Slim Fast without help is basically imposssible, because I can’t actually carry anything. I’m glad I have a Wii though, let me tell you, and NetFlix seems pretty cool so far too, but I feel like I’m really being unproductive. I can’t wait to get back to work, but I can’t get any firm information out of my doctor until after my visit on Monday. Wish me luck (just don’t tell me to break a leg)!

Signing off,

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Dredged up from my MySpace blog, originally posted 11/21/2005


I had a long post typed out about what brought me to today’s point; but after reading it, I realized no one would really care about the rambling explanation of my neuron firing sequence. So here’s my point:

Know yourself.

I know it sounds obvious, but I think it bears repeating. Too many people are trying to get through life less effectively than they could if they took some time to examine who they really are.

Know your own behavior, accept and embrace yourself. Don’t hide from the fact that your mother taught you to procrastinate or that your father was an alcoholic. Don’t deny your own strengths either though; exercise your green thumb and your ability to truly listen to others.

If you discover something that you don’t like, you have two choices:

  1. Accept it.
  2. Change it.

Did you notice that “Complain about it” was not an option? This process is obviously one of discovery. As you discover your strengths, play to them. No one wants to hear you whine about how hard your life is- not even you. Actively make choices that create situations in which you are set up to win. It’s not “cheating,” it’s “being effective.” Every situation has variables you can effect, even if all you can do is visualize the best possible outcome.

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