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Coming up for air

Breathe.

I started a new job just over a month ago at a software company as a Customer Success Manager. Not only is it a new position, it also serves an industry I’ve had to learn about. So far I’m having a fantastic time; there are so many new challenges and projects to work on that I can’t imagine becoming bored and the team is awesome. It feels like I’ve been there for longer than five weeks. Working in an open-concept office is much different from what I’m used to but there have been surprisingly few drawbacks. It’s been really helpful as I’ve been learning to be able to listen to conversations and ask questions afterward. It’s a very collaborative environment

PRS also started up again. I taught my first class a week and a half ago. Unfortunately, it was a cold and damp day. By mid-afternoon the rod and screws in my leg were aching. After I got cold my arm started tingling like it did when it had (has?) nerve damage. My knee held up surprisingly well; it was more painful after a small amount of walking on Saturday.

It’s hard to tell what’s going to make my leg hurt now that there are so many potentially painful parts affected by different things. When I rode around the parking lot on last Sunday it felt like the 250s were the most amount of weight my leg could handle.  It was a little shocking. Mentally I’ve been prepared for these issues but it’s hard to prepare emotionally. I’m feeling the familiar itch of hurry up, Spring! that usually hits around this time of year so my desire to ride hasn’t diminished.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been six months since the accident already.

Last leg check up

Yesterday I had my final check up with the surgeon on my leg. The latest x-rays show that both bones are healing and have joined together. The doctor is happy with the progress of my bones; muscle strength, and gait. Barring anything weird I won’t have to have any more checkups.

We discussed the future of my tibia nail. The anchor screws can come out at any time if they bother me. So far the ankle ones do, but only when it’s very cold. It’s more of an annoyance than anything; and can be solved by keeping my feet and ankle warm. When the weather was unseasonably cold I felt it in the whole length of the tibial nail. The nail itself can be removed after it’s been in place for at least a year, and if it’s going to come out shoule be removed within four years. This is because the hardware used changes and they may not have a tool with the correct thread to get the nail out! There are pros and cons to leaving it and removing it, of course.

After discussing it with the surgeon and going over the options with Paul I think the best course of aciton os to leave it until/unless it starts causing constant issues.

Chilled bone

Image of a tibial rod/nail

Considering how many bones I’ve broken I’m lucky that few of them ache during cold or damp weather. One of the worst is my right index finger. I’ve broken it a number of times; fairly badly about six years ago. When the barometric pressure drops suddenly or the weather turns cold and damp it reminds me with an arthritic ache.

I’ve been lucky with my broken leg as the healing bones themselves haven’t hurt too badly unless I’ve knocked them or a dog has kicked me (they always manage to get me right on the break or where the screws are). The muscles start to hurt from overexertion before the bones do. I’ve found if I’m not paying attention to my gait my left foot turns pigeon-toed and my fibula hurts at the break.

The break in my tibia ached all day, as did the screw in my ankle. Before bed the whole length of my tibia ached and the bone felt cold; as if the tibial nail itself was cold. I wasn’t anticipating pain like this until after everything had healed; rightly or wrongly I associate this type of pain with old, healed injuries. Even now the ankle screws feel cold and painful. I’m sure it’s normal but I’ll ask my surgeon when I go for my next (and hopefully last!) checkup in January.

On Christmas Eve Paul and I took the dogs for a walk, the first since my accident. I didn’t go quite as far as we normally do, but farther than I thought I would. I didn’t use my cane and wasn’t tired until we got home so it was a perfect distance. I find that I’m relying less on my cane for support and more for balance on the icy sidewalks and roads. At home I don’t use it at all. I have a limp still and I really have to focus on walking with the correct gait but in the past month I’ve gone from hardly being able to engage the clutch in my car to walking without assistance a lot of the time. Winter is a good time to be healing (I’m not missing out on great weather or motorcycle stuff) but a little more dangerous when ice and snow are involved.

How to survive a nuclear war

I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War. I was too young to have to practise duck and cover drills in school (we did earthquake drills instead) but thanks to the subscription to National Geographic that my grandfather got me in 1986  or 1987 I was aware of it and the threat of nuclear weapons. I used to have nightmares about nuclear war as a child. There’s probably (obviously?) a connection between this and my love of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction.

Then came glasnost, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and START I. It seemed like the threat of a nuclear weapon being detonated was more likely to come from a terrorist cell than a government.  It seemed less morbid to consume nuclear apocalypse fiction after humanity made it out from under the shadow of nuclear war; instead of a glimpse of a possible future it was a look to the past.

There are only two pieces of apocalyptic/postapocalyptic fiction that has affected me: one is The Road by Cormac MacCarthy. It’s the bleakest thing I’ve ever read; I’ve tried to read it again and I can’t now that I know about certain events in the book. The other is the UK made for tv movie Threads. Had I not seen Threads, its predecessor The War Game may have taken its place. Threads  is the bleakest, most depressing thing I’ve ever seen.

Douglas Coupland’s short story The Wrong Sun in Life After God  was the first time I had my idea about surviving global nuclear war, though it was just an unformed thought. After Threads I knew exactly how to survive:

Don’t.

If it’s going to come I hope a missile veers off course and hits us. To go without pain, or suffering, or knowing what happened would be the best outcome. Maybe I’d see the flash for a millisecond before the end.

Even though Threads paints a depressing and dismal future, until recently I thought that we’d left that threat behind. Now we have leaders of the original nuclear powers talking like it’s 1983 again: Vladimir Putin boasted that Russia’s modernized nuclear missiles makes them “stronger than any aggressor”, while Donald Trump tweeted “Let it be an arms race”. It’s not clear or evident that Trump is responding directly to Putin, especially since they’ve both vowed to work with each other to strengthen US-Russia ties. It can’t be good for the world that the leader of Russia wants to make Russia as powerful as it was at the height of Soviet power, and Trump wants to make America great again by unknown means.

It’s plausible that war could be ignited by a tweet. How’s that for 21st century living?

Unlike my younger self I’m not worried about it. I have no control over this. It’s like anxiety over the Big One. At least I can prepare for it (though I haven’t; we Lower Mainlanders have an odd aversion to getting prepped, as if it will cause the earthquake maybe?)

You can’t get ready to survive nuclear war unless you’re prepared to build a fully self-sufficient bunker somewhere.

I have a hazy theory that worrying about events like nuclear war, earthquakes, etc. is a way for the mind to re-direct anxiety about something that it can’t express. A few years ago I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder to go along with depression and dysthymia. Maybe my childhood fears were a way to express otherwise inexpressible anxiety? Now that I have GAD under control I don’t need an outlet for anxiety so I can think clearly about the risk.

The season of the sun

While listening to The Early Edition on the drive in to work I heard Minister Garry Patterson from St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church speak about the “other” meaning of Christmas. It wasn’t what I expected.

He acknowledged that as a Christian Christmas is about the birth of Christ. The surprise came when he acknowledged that most of our holiday traditions come from pre-Christian celebrations of the solstice, sun, and triumph over darkness. He also spoke of how early Christians didn’t know the date of Jesus’ birth and that December 25th was chosen as the day of Christ’s birth because of this. He told of how this time of year is for everyone: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Pagans, and Atheists.

It’s always been interesting to me how similarly cultures across time have celebrated this time of year. Along with the universal archetypes of heroes and gods it seems as though there are archetypical celebrations that may also come from Jung’s collective unconscious. Celebrating the return of longer days and more daylight after the long winter darkness has been a part of culture since agricultural times, and perhaps before. We’re happy for the light whether we name it the sun, Sol Invictus, Mithras, Lord Rama, or Christ. To get through the darkest days of the year we feast, light up our homes, and give gifts.

To me this season is about acknowledging the return of light and spending time with loved ones.  It’s what frustrates me about the so-called “war on Christmas”. At the heart of it whether it’s Santa Claus who’s the central figure or the holy family we’re all celebrating the same thing under different names. If people could recognize that cultures have more similarities than differences we’d be in better shape as a global society.

Physio & back to work

I’ve been at physio for two weeks now. It’s difficult but not painful. The weakest muscles are my calf muscles and vastus medialis (one of the quadricepts muscles; the one that connects to the inside of the kneecap). The vastus medialis was weak before my accident and contributed to the knee pain that I feel/felt.

I’ve moved off of my crutches entirely and use a cane. I wasn’t able to find a folding one that will work for me; they were all too short. The one I have is a light aluminum one. I try not to use it very much in the house unless I’m tired or sore but I depend on it when I’m out.

Using a cane makes people treat me differently. On crutches I didn’t get a lot of notice; probably because I didn’t have a cast so a lot of people thought I simply had a sprained ankle. The cane attracts attention – probably due to my age and appearance.

Today was my second physio appointment this week. We’ve added exercises to work on my calf muscles, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. I’m calling my calf “shaky” because it’s so weak that after three repetitions of any exercise it starts to shake with effort. It takes shockingly little to wear it out. Then I went grocery shopping which was a poor idea. By the time I gritted my teeth and dragged myself around the store my leg was tired and painful.

Monday is my first day back in the office since my accident; I haven’t been in since September 9th (just over 11 weeks). Quite a few things have changed; the biggest being a new co-location neighbour (a sister company sharing common space with us). I’m in the loop as much it’s possible to be as I’ve been working from home for the past month. Now that it’s time to go back I’m a bit torn; I wanted to go back this whole time because I miss the interaction, but I also enjoy working with the dogs by my side. Unfortunately as my position is now I have to be in the office unless someone is there to cover my “in-office” duties; I can’t work from home on a regular basis. That might (hopefully) change in the future as my position changes or I move to another role, but I’m unsure what the timeline on that is.

Last thought: is it weird that I can’t wait to see if the tibial rod sets off metal detectors?

Not back, but on my way

I had my second check up with my surgeon on November 9th. The good news is that a callus has formed around both breaks; i.e. they’re healing. I can start physiotherapy now and work on regaining mobility in my knee and ankle and rebuilding lost muscle mass.

The not-so-great news is that I wasn’t quite ready to go back to work (in the office). The surgeon felt that I need another two weeks to work on increasing the amount of weight I can bear until I don’t need crutches. Barring any unforseen incidents I should be back to the office on November 28th. I’m down to one crutch when I go out and for going up and down stairs. If I’m only moving a small distance in the house I’ve been…it can’t be called “walking”; it’s really a hobble/limp.

I’m disappointed, but I don’t want to jeopardize my recovery. My manager and company have been very supportive and accommodating thus far by allowing me to gradually return to work starting at home and allowing me to continue to work from home until I can into the office. It’s a win-win situation and I appreciate it.

I had my first physio appointment this evening. It went pretty well; the physiotherapist was happy that I’ve retained all of my range of motion, even though I’ve lost so much strength and muscle tone. I did the exercises that the physiotherapist from St. Paul’s Hospital gave me to do while stuck on the couch. Apparently regaining range of motion is much more difficult and painful than regaining strength. We’re going to work on the muscles needed to help me walk with stability and then “hop around” to different muscle groups as needed to get me back to normal.

He said that there wasn’t any reason I couldn’t go back to work as planned on the 28th, but wants me to have a cane in case I need extra stability while walking, especially at the end of the day when I’ll be tired. He told me that he recommends one that folds up so I can keep it in my bag and not use it unless it’s needed.

The best news: he said if I do my exercises as instructed I should be able to ride a motorcycle in the spring!

Losses & gains

f800gsa
A happier day on the GS: August 2016 in Tulameen

It’s official: the motorcycle is a total loss. The replacement parts alone came to just under $22,000 without including labour.

RIP F800GSA: we didn’t even get to crack 10,000km on it! Seeing the long list of damaged parts made me wonder if it would have been easier for the dealership to list what wasn’t damaged.

My leg is healing, I guess. I don’t have any way of knowing without an x-ray. It’s really atrophied though; even my upper leg muscles are affected now. I have to watch how I walk as my ankle keeps wanting to turn in pigeon-toed. I had/have issues with my feet; the bones in them were curved when I was born making them point in. I had to wear special shoes to correct them as a child. When I sit my feet still flop inwards. When I was at Squamish General Hospital my left foot was almost horizontal and the ER physician was a bit freaked out thinking that they’d missed an injury.

I stared a graduated return to work program on Monday. This week I’m working four hours per day from home. Next week six hours per day, and then eight hours on November 7th and 8th. November 9th and 10th I have appointments with the surgeon and my family doctor respectively, and November 11th is Remembrance Day; a statutory holiday in BC.

Feet at rest. It's hard to take a nice "foot shot".
Feet at rest. It’s hard to take a nice “foot shot”.

I’m hoping that both doctors give me the okay to return to work. Assuming they do I’d go back into the office on Monday November 14th. It’s all up to how my breaks have healed and if I can put weight on the leg. From what I’ve read online the next step is often an aircast and possibly a cane.

If I need a cane I’m going to decorate it.

(I don’t have the right words for a title)

I don’t usually comment on Canadian politics let alone American online because I’ve found it’s not conducive to actual discourse. But I just cannot believe what is going on with the US Election right now. Something snapped in me today and as I read the stories and the comments (I know; that was a mistake). It hurts in a way that I don’t really understand.

Michelle Obama’s speech today really sums up how I feel about this. You can watch her speech and read the transcript here. This is the part that really stuck out to me:

We thought all of that was ancient history, didn’t we? And so many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect, but here we are in 2016 and we’re hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it. And all of us are doing what women have always done: We’re trying to keep our heads above water, just trying to get through it, trying to pretend like this doesn’t really bother us maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak.

Maybe we’re afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet, because we’ve seen that people often won’t take our word over his. Or maybe we don’t want to believe that there are still people out there who think so little of us as women. Too many are treating this as just another day’s headline, as if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted, as if this is normal, just politics as usual.

***

Because consider this: If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What message are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations? And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.

The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way. They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being treated and demeaned and disrespected. And like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man.

1 in 4 women in North America will be sexually assulted in her lifetime. And yet we have a man who has admitted to assulting women – and bragging about it – who has a chance to be elected to the highest office in the country.

Then people (mostly men) question: was it really sexual assault? Just a kiss? Just a touch? Just looking? Why didn’t they come forward earlier?  Are these women Hillary supporters?  The other allegations are that the women are looking to get money or fame.

Jesus fucking christ. Why didn’t they come forward?  Because the next question is always about the victim’s credibility, just as demonstrated! Ever heard the questions people ask when they hear a woman has been sexually assaulted? Was she drunk? What was she wearing? Why did she leave with him? What answer could I or anyone else give to any of these questions that makes it okay for someone to assault us?

It makes me feel as though there’s still a signifigant number of men who still don’t understand issues around consent, or feel as though it’s their perogative to touch and take women as they please.

This isn’t a Democrat vs. Repulican issue. It’s about how a man who wants to lead one of the most powerful nations on earth feels he can treat women and how he has treated women.