Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Good news and bad news

I just got back from seeing an orthopaedic surgeon at the Vancouver Bone and Joint Clinic. The good news is that my fractured shoulder should heal within six to eight weeks. The bad news is that it will take a lot longer before I am able to lift my hand above my head again.

That means I won’t be able to swim or compete in triathlons for at least six months. For most people this probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But for me it is. My whole life revolves around swimming and cycling. It’s what I do. It’s what my friends do. I’m not a sedentary person. I have to move.

Today was the first day since the accident that I felt sorry for myself. I had a nice little pity party on my walk home from the Bone and Joint Clinic. Part of me knows it’s ridiculous to be depressed about something so minor. I keep telling myself that it could be worse. I could be dead or paralyzed. But that doesn’t really make me feel better.

I’m upset because the whole thing was so preventable. I blame myself for what happened. I keep replaying the accident over and over again in my head. I shouldn’t have been going so fast. I should have slowed down. I shouldn’t have braked into the corner. I should have been more cautious. I shouldn’t have been so focussed on winning. My split second mistake cost me the entire summer.

I know obsessing about it is a waste of energy. I can’t change what happened. As much as I want to go back and undo my stupid mistake, I can’t. So no more self-pity. No more beating myself up. I need to figure out how to accept this injury and recover from it as quickly as possible.

According to the doctor, I should be in a lot less pain two weeks from now. I’ll be able to sleep comfortably again and I won’t have to keep my arm immobilized. In about three weeks, I should be able to start physiotherapy (and rehab for my newly acquired addiction to painkillers).

My office is installing voice-recognition software on my computer so that I don’t have to slouch in my chair with my keyboard on my lap (like I’m doing right now) when I go back to work on Monday.

In the meantime, I am trying really, really hard to focus on the positive. For example, I am acquiring a whole bunch of new skills. I am learning to write with my right hand. I can open cans and jars by stabilizing them between my thighs. I figured out how to shave both my armpits with my right hand (it’s a special talent, really).

My friends have been great. I have gotten more phone calls, emails and visits in the past five days than I have all year. Life could be a lot worse. (Okay, maybe that sentence wasn't super positive. But I'm working on it. Baby steps.)

Monday, May 29, 2006

The crash

I had my first serious bike crash on Saturday. I spent nine hours in the hospital, stoned out of my mind on morphine to ease the pain of a fractured shoulder and a skinned thigh.

I’m at home now. Still in a lot of pain but feeling better. If I balance the keyboard on my lap and tilt it so it rests at a 45 degree angle against the edge of the desk, I can (sort of) type with both hands without hurting my shoulder too much.

The accident happened really quickly. I was racing in a triathlon and had just finished the swim. I hopped out of the pool, strapped on my helmet and jumped on my bike. I wanted to win and so I wasn’t paying as careful attention to the road as I should have been.

About two minutes into the bike ride, I was flying down a short, steep hill. There was a sharp curve in the road ahead. I was approaching the turn too fast. It had been raining earlier in the morning and the road was slipperier than I thought.

As soon I touched the brakes, the rear wheel instantly skidded out from underneath me. I had no time to react. I landed violently on my left side and slid about 15 metres across the road. My left arm was yanked out from underneath me and I felt a pop and heard a snap.

I remember thinking, "Oh no. This is bad" as I was skidding across the road. I don’t remember feeling any pain. Not even when I heard the bone snap.

I came to a stop when my bike hit the curb. Luckily, there were no cars on the road or any other cyclists right behind me. It would have been a lot worse if I had started a Tour de France pileup.

I crawled out from underneath my bike and sat up on the sidewalk. I must have been in shock because nothing hurt too badly. My left arm was numb. I didn’t even realize my leg had been shredded until I looked down and saw blood. My bike barely had a scratch on it.

By the time the ambulance arrived, the shock had started to wear off and the pain in my arm was becoming more intense. Because there was a crack in my helmet, they assumed my head took some of the impact so they put me on a spinal board and tried to put a collar around my neck. But I suddenly felt claustrophobic and tried to rip the collar off my neck. I started panicking and they gave me laughing gas but this only made my anxiety worse. I bargained with them. I promised not to move my head or my neck if they didn’t put the collar on me. They agreed. Probably because they were wasting too much time fighting with me instead of loading me into the ambulance.

The rest is a bit of a blur. Shortly after I arrived at the hospital, a nice Australian nurse named Simon put me on an IV and started pumping me full of opiates.

The morphine didn’t take the pain away. It just made me not care about the pain. It was like being drunk, but better. Simon would come by and ask, "Do you want me to top you up with some morphine?" I would just smile and nod. Simon confessed that he had a soft spot for me. I remember feeling really content.

Because the doctor suspected a possible spinal injury, I wasn’t allowed to move my head or my neck. This meant that I had to pee while lying down in bed. Maybe it was the morphine (or just because I am lazy) but I found the experience of peeing into a pan rather enjoyable.

It’s so convenient and easy. The nurse just slides the pan under your bottom, closes the curtain and you just pee. You don’t even have to sit up. After the results of the CT scan showed that I didn’t have a spinal injury, Simon told me it was okay to get up and walk to the bathroom but I told him I wanted to keep using the bedpan. I’m seriously considering buying one for my apartment. It would be great for long movies.

During my nine-hour hospital stay, I only cried twice. Both times when I was being X-rayed and they had to move my arm around. The pain was excruciating. I may have screamed. Simon kissed his fingertips and pressed them against my forehead. "We’ll get you some morphine as soon as we’re done with this."

I didn’t even cry when Simon used a brush to scrub the dirt and tar out of my leg.

I had a lot of visitors at the hospital but only my friends Annelle and John stayed with me the entire time. Annelle spent the night with me at my place. She helped me get dressed and undressed. She put my hair in a ponytail. She made me dinner. She sympathized as I vomited (the morphine made me sick). She took me grocery shopping on Sunday. If there anything positive about my crash, it is that it has deepened my friendship with my best friend. I don’t even care how cheesy that sounds!

I’ve been touched by how many people have been calling and emailing and stopping by. My friend Jason came over tonight to wash my dishes. I also made him put my hair in a ponytail but it took him five tries before he got it right.

It’s frustrating being temporarily right-handed. Brushing my teeth, eating soup, taking a shower -- everything is challenging. There are certain things that are impossible to do with one hand. I can’t floss my teeth. I can’t do the dishes. I can’t put my hair up. I pretty much can't move my left arm at all.

I’m bummed out about having a fractured shoulder at the start of summer. I won’t be swimming or biking for a while. I probably won’t be blogging much either. Or at least until the pain subsides a bit. It took me the entire day to write this post and my arm is throbbing from the effort.

The good news is that the bone will heal within four to six weeks and I don’t need surgery. So I’m trying to stay positive. When I start to feel depressed, I try to remind myself that it could have been a lot worse and this fracture is only a temporary setback.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I love my job

I’m going to the press screening of Al Gore’s new film An Inconvenient Truth tomorrow. And I’m getting paid to do it. Making money and watching movies -- two of my favourite things together at last!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My own private Okanagan

The Okanagan is one of my favourite places in Canada. Maybe even the world. This place is all cool lakes and hot sunshine. Rolling hills and sandy beaches. And wine. Lots and lots of wine.

If I'm ever lucky enough to meet a man crazy enough to marry me, I think I'd like to settle down here. Until then, I guess I'll have to be content with the occasional weekend trip to the Okanagan. Like the one we had this past weekend.

We camped on Skaha Lake and rode our bikes through the valley. We did other fun things too, like hang out at the public pool in Penticton where we raced down the waterslide and had a competition to see who could come up with the craziest dive off the springboard. (I won. Both times.) And there was wine. Lots and lots of wine.

There's nothing like camping in the wild outdoors, where you can't get hot coffee in the morning and you wake up to find worms in your helmet.

Is that a pump and a spare tube in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Nice view! And I'm not talking about the mountains.

Nice view! This time I actually am talking about the mountains.

Sony and I decide to support the local economy by sharing a few bottles of wine.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gone camping, Brokeback style

I’m spending the long weekend with five of my boyfriends.

We’re hitting the road for three days of camping and cycling in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. It’s going to be just like Brokeback Mountain but with bikes and spandex instead of horses and chaps.

We’ll be pitching our tents in a trailer park just outside of Penticton. It’s one of those charming little campgrounds with rottweilers and rednecks right in the heart of Stockwell Day country. I have a feeling our speedos are going to be a big hit with the other campers.

Happy long weekend!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My 15 seconds of fame

For those of you who didn’t see Claire Martin pimp my blog on Newsworld the other night, you can relive the magic right now!

Here is a series of badly lit, poorly framed photographs I took during a repeat of her pimpilicious weather forecast. (Bonus: My e-mail exchange with Claire Martin appears at the bottom of this post.)

1. CBC meteorologist Claire Martin is seen standing in front of a massive screenshot of the Google homepage during her weather forecast. She is laughing as she tells us that something very interesting happens when you Google “George Stroumboulopoulos loves Claire Martin.”

2. The results pop up. The search returns all kinds of serious websites, like the Royal Canadian Air Farce. But then, Claire points out, there is this . . .

3. Claire clicks on the link and my blog is suddenly on the national news.

4. Claire reads my post about how much I love her.

5. Claire freaks out. She starts waving her arms in the air, and laughs, “What is this? This is crazy. I can’t believe that someone would write this.”

6. “Okay. Enough of this. Onto the weather.”

I love this woman! Here's the e-mail I sent her the day after her weather forecast:

From: Sarah Marchildon
To: Claire Martin
Subject: Hilarious!
Date: Wednesday May 17, 2006, 9:56 a.m.

Hi Claire,

I almost fell off the couch last night when I saw your weather forecast! Imagine my surprise when my blog (um…yeah, I’m the one who has a “non-sexual crush” on you. Hi! Don’t worry. I’m not crazy. Just a fan.) popped up on the giant screen behind you. It was hilarious in a shocking kind of way. You are now my favourite CBC personality of all time (George has been bumped down to the number 2 spot). Keep up the great work.




Here’s her response:

From: Claire Martin
To: Sarah Marchildon
Subject: Re: Hilarious!
Date: Wednesday May 17, 2006, 11:11 a.m.

Oh -- thank god you found it funny! We thought it was hilarious!! You absolutely made our show.

Keep watching.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Shock and awe for real, yo

The craziest thing just happened. I haven’t been this excited since Santa brought me a Cabbage Patch Kid.

So I get home from work around 8:30 tonight. I walk into the living room and flip on the television to catch the last half of The Hour. Then I go into the kitchen and start cooking dinner. I’m sort of half-listening to the show while trying not to let the chicken burn.

Twenty minutes later, dinner is ready. I bring the food out into the living room. I’m sitting cross-legged on the couch, eating chicken caesar salad, watching George wrap up his show. I don’t turn the channel after it’s over because that’s when Claire Martin delivers her weather forecast and I kind of have a (non-sexual) thing for Claire Martin.

Normally, Claire stands in front of a large computerized image of Canada. But tonight she was standing in front of a massive screenshot of the Google homepage. She started giggling and said someone at the CBC found a very interesting website when they googled "George Stroumboulopoulos loves Claire Martin."

About a quarter of the way down the search results, there was a highly visible link to my blog. My jaw dropped and my fork hit the plate. My mind started racing.

"Oh my god. Don’t tell me she’s going to click on the link. Oh my god. She just clicked on the link. Oh my god. That’s my blog. Oh my god. Claire Martin is reading my post about how much I love her on national television. Oh my god. My blog is on Newsworld. Oh my god. Claire Martin thinks I’m a crazy Internet stalker. Oh my god."

It was surreal. There was Claire Martin standing in front of a giant image of my blog! It took up the entire TV screen. You could clearly see the headline "My (non-sexual) crush" and the photo I took of her. I felt so exposed.

I mean, I kind of expected that she’d Google herself and find out about my crush but I never thought she’d broadcast it on her weather forecast!

I was so shocked I barely heard what she was saying. Something along the lines of: "Ha, ha. This is so weird. I can’t believe how crazy bloggers are. Crazy! Ha, ha. Okay. Now for the weather."

The whole thing probably lasted less than a minute. But you know what? This is exactly why Claire Martin is so cool. Who else would do this? My girl crush has exploded into full-on love.

I almost thought I imagined the whole thing until my friend Colette phoned from Calgary, screaming, "Were you watching Newsworld? Your blog was on Claire Martin’s weather forecast!!!"

It was weird when the National Post ran a story about my ass. But this? This is crazy.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Guys gone tame

I spent Friday night with my gay posse. You might be wondering what kind of wacky hijinks four gay guys and their female friend got up to on a Friday night.

Did we hit the clubs? Drink wine out of a box? Cruise for hot men? Belt out show-tunes at a karaoke bar?

Nope. We drove out to the suburbs to watch a high school play. And then we went back to Paul’s place and ordered pizza. You’d never see that on an episode of Queer as Folk.

My friend Dale, who is a high school drama teacher in Richmond, invited us to watch his production of Macbeth ("production" meaning "modern interpretation"). I originally told him "no thanks" ("no thanks" meaning "I’d rather gouge my eyes out than watch a bunch of no-talent teenagers butcher Shakespeare.")

I changed my mind when I found out there would be free pizza afterward.

I normally spend Friday nights curled up on the couch watching Laguna Beach. So I suppose it’s fitting that I ended up inside a real high school this weekend instead of watching one on TV.

It was kind of fun to go back to high school. The kids were cute in an awkward and/or over-confident kind of way. They all called my friend Dale "Mr. E." This was kind of confusing at first. I kept looking around, thinking, "Who the heck is Mr. E?"

It didn’t take long to realize that my friend is the cool teacher. I suddenly saw Dale in a whole new light. Or maybe it was just because it was the first time I saw him wearing a blazer and an ironed shirt.

After we made our way to our seats, I looked around and realized the audience was entirely made up of parents, grandparents and students.

"Did anyone bring a flask to help us through this?" asked Mick.

It turns out we didn’t need alcohol to have a good time (and I’m not just saying that in case any of Dale’s students are reading this).

The play itself exceeded my expectations. Oh sure, there was plenty of high school histrionics and over-acting, as well as some stumbled lines and missed cues. But a few of the kids were extremely talented actors and a joy to watch.

Who knows what kind of wacky hijinks we’ll get up to next weekend? Maybe dinner at White Spot followed by bingo at the community centre.

Monday, May 08, 2006

My newest (non-sexual) crush

I have a serious girl crush on Claire Martin. She is the best thing to happen to the CBC since George Stroumboulopoulos.

Claire Martin is a meteorologist. But she’s no weather girl. She’s smart and goofy and cool. She’s a total weather geek and it shows.

She hardly wears any makeup. Her hair is kind of flat. Her clothes are plain and frumpy. The woman has worn baseball caps and baggy sweatshirts while presenting the weather. Last week, she wore socks emblazoned with the Edmonton Oilers logo (she lifted up her pant leg to show us). Her “I don’t care if I look scummy on national television” attitude is a big part of her charm.

The woman oozes personality. She makes the weather fun to watch. She is genuinely enthusiastic when she talks about Arctic cold fronts and high-pressure ridges. And she always does it with a huge smile.

It turns out I’m not the only one who likes Claire Martin. A quick Google search turned up dozens of rave reviews and accolades. She has won international awards (she was named “Best Weather Presenter in the World” three times). Even more impressive is the fact that she sang on Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” when she was a kid growing up in England.

Like I said, I have a serious crush on Claire Martin. In a totally non-sexual kind of way, of course. She’s the kind of girl I’d like to spend an afternoon with, kicking back, drinking wine out of a box and talking about the weather.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Dude, where's my straw?

Remember when I said I wanted to get my hands on the new juice-box size wine? But I couldn’t because it’s only available in Ontario? And then I half-jokingly begged for someone to mail me some?

Well, guess what happened? A guy in Toronto I’ve never met before actually sent me a case! (This is way more exciting than the time I got Tim Hortons gift certificates in the mail.)

I’m happy to report that the single-serving size boxes of wine look exactly like juice boxes (and they fit just as perfectly in your lunch bag). But unlike real juice boxes, they don’t come with little plastic straws attached to the side. There is, however, a strategically placed hole on top:

I think you’re supposed to pour it into a wine glass. But it’s way more fun to stick a straw in it and drink it right out of the box. Plus, it’s easier to drink in public this way. No more hiding your booze in a paper bag!

The wine boxes are so small they fit right in the palm of your hand, which makes them perfect for picnics, hiking trips or boring meetings at the office.

In case you’re wondering what wine from a juice box tastes like, it’s surprisingly not bad. It’s not the best wine I’ve ever had but it’s also not the worst. But that's not the point. Hitting the sauce has never been this much fun!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Unintentionally entertaining headline

Breaking news from the front page of today’s Vancouver Sun:
Poor people, smokers, drinkers and lobbyists are nothing but a bunch of no-good losers!

Wow. Talk about a ringing endorsement of the federal budget! The Vancouver Sun makes it look like the only people who lose out are losers already.