Sunday, February 24, 2013

Emergency room here I come - again

It's not like I had my own parking space or anything, but I am no stranger to the emergency room.
From my younger years to my present middle-age years, the ER has been a fairly regular stop.
The first 'ER run' I ever made (without my parents taking me there that is) was when I was 16 years old. A friend of mine called in a panic because her little brother had nearly cut his hand off. I could barely understand a word she said, but I picked up enough to learn her parents were out for the evening and she could not get in touch with them.
This was before cell phones so communication was still in the stone ages, you know, the 1980s.
They were goofing around and Lil' Bro fell through a glass door. His hand did the breaking and the glass did the cutting.
And, wow, did it ever cut. When I showed up he had his hand wrapped in a towel that was absolutely soaked with blood.
We piled him into my little Toyota Corolla and off to the emergency ward we went.
I pulled up to the front door, ran in and yelled for help. Nurses came running and Lil Bro was rushed into a room. He looked much worse than he actually was because the entire front of his shirt and pants were red.
Fortunately there was no serious nerve damage, but it took an impressive number of stitches to close the wound.
He felt much better when I told him chicks dig scars.
Oh, and here’s a helpful tip for such situations: when you rush someone out of the house who is bleeding profusely it is best to leave a note or something. While we were in ER, the parents came home to an unlocked house, a broken glass door and blood everywhere.
Needless to say Mom and Dad were freaking out. They showed up at the emergency room where we explained the situation and my time as a paramedic was done, for now anyway.
A couple months later, another friend of mine found herself in need of immediate medical help. She had consumed copious amounts of alcohol and was completely blotto to the point of being unresponsive. None of her friends wanted to call an ambulance or her parents, so they called me.
Once again my trusty little import did its best ambulance imitation, we loaded the 'victim' and off I went once again to the ER.
Again I parked in front of the door and again I ran inside asking for help. Ironically, the same nurse was working and she remembered me from the last ER run.
My friend received the medical attention she needed. The hospital did call her parents who came rushing to the ward with rather unimpressed looks on their faces.
Despite a nasty hangover and being grounded until she was old enough to vote, all ended without major harm.
I would end up taking someone to ER at least once a year throughout my teens. But then I went several years without a visit to the hospital emergency centre until I started having kids of my own.
My daughter brought us to ER a couple times when she was an infant because of her asthma and both my sons have taken turns in their need for immediate medical service.
Fortunately none of the events were too serious.
So making ER runs is nothing new and I have learned to be calm amid such calamity.
That is why I did not panic when Junior called me at work and said he separated his shoulder while snowboarding.
He was in discomfort, but it was not life threatening and considering I was more than an hour from where he was I calmly examined our options. He could not immediately get in touch with his mom so he called his friend (who turned out to also be at the hill) and got a ride to the emergency room where my wife was able to meet him.
Junior will be in a sling for a while, but he will recover completely. And now his friend can lay claim to his first ER run, I just hope it is his last, I don’t want to give up my parking space.

Thanks for the invite, but I'm not going

Days tend to melt together. You get so wrapped up in the immediate that often a day ticks by with barely an acknowledgment it happened at all.
T-shirts and bumper stickers tell us to seize the day, make every day count, live life to the fullest, but most of us don’t do that.
We go from one day to the next, trapped in a mind-numbing work week broken up only by two days where we can venture from routine and do what we want.
But day fades to week, week fades to month and month fades to year until an event arises that reminds us time is truly marching on.
For me that little slap in the face happened when I opened an email and saw it was a notice of my, gulp, 30-year high school reunion.
Suddenly, I felt very old. My mind wandered back to those horrific days of high school where each passing sunset meant I was one day closer to freedom from the government-sponsored prison that was secondary school.
Once I forced those memories back into the dark recess from which they crept, I began to wonder where the last three decades went.
When I graduated high school I thought a 30 year old was a senior citizen. I was a typical teen filled with the bravado of youth and the knowledge that I knew everything there was worth knowing. I knew 30 was ancient, now my graduation date is 30 years old, so that would make me, um, well, never mind.
As I alluded to, school was not a very rewarding experience. As anyone who was bullied in school knows, it can have a profound impact on your life.
My entire focus during school was to graduate and get as far away from those jerks, I mean, classmates as possible. Breaking out of the seventh level of hell was my only priority and once that was achieved I spent a couple years drifting aimlessly wondering what to do next.
I then married an amazing woman, went to college and launched my career, so when the notice of my 10-year reunion arrived, I decided to return and see those butt monkeys, I mean classmates.
There were a few people in my grad class I liked and considered friends, but the majority would not have spit on me if I was on fire.
I must admit, I really enjoyed my 10-year reunion. The first thing I noticed was many had swelled over the past decade. It is like they were put in this universal fat-adding machine. Many of the jocks had less hair and more gut, while many of the jockettes were also not as trim as they once were.
I was in the best shape I had been in years, so it was enjoyable to poke their blubber bellies and make comments about their girth. It was at that reunion I realized I was not the skinny, wisp of a person I was back in ’83 who hid in the shadows, and they could see it as well.
Another decade passed and I headed off to my 20-year reunion where the swelling of people had really taken off. Some were still in pretty good shape, but those who had bloated at the 10-year event were even more so now.
I was not in as good of shape as I was for the first gathering, but I kept active with my beloved martial arts so I was again one of the leaner participants.
The atmosphere of the second gathering was different than the first. Most of us talked about our kids and all the fun youngsters bring with them. I guess as we all simultaneously edged toward 40 we viewed life through much more mature eyes.
Now, I am a few months away from my 30th reunion and I am going to do things a little differently this time around: I’m not going.
I have zero contact with anyone I graduated with, save for a few connections on Facebook so instead of meeting with a bunch of people I do not know, I think I will take my wife somewhere for the weekend and really enjoy my time away from work.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Candidates for the Meathead Hall of Fame

It’s all over but the insurance claim.
The ‘it’ I am referring to is the aftermath of a backed up sewer line.
It happened last week and was not the most enjoyable experience I have ever had. In fact, it really wasn’t much fun at all.
My wife and I returned from our date night to find part of the basement filled with water and, um, other material, so instead of being nipple deep in a nice relaxing hot tub, I was ankle deep in, um, some other material.
We had to call a restoration company who promptly arrived and began the cleaning process. I do not know how much those people make per hour to do this job, but it is not enough.
While talking to the head restoration guy, we ran down a quick list of everything that was damaged. There was a couple cabinets, some clothes, throw rugs, a fancy cardboard shelving thingy, a sleeping bag, a few odds and ends and my Picasso.
Yes, that’s right. I stored a Picasso under the stairs, on the floor next to the laundry room. No, honest, I did, really.
Much like you, dear reader, the restoration guy did not believe me and he knew I was only joking about owning a Picasso – it was a Rembrandt.
Actually it was more like a crayon creation one of my kids did many years ago, but should Junior become a famous artist it could be worth as much as a Picasso. Hey, no one knew Picasso was ‘the’ Picasso when he was still a kid.
Either way, I did not try to claim an expensive piece of art on my insurance form.
But it is impressive what some people do try to claim.
The insurance guy relayed a story of one lady whose basement flooded and she claimed she kept her $10,000 pair of diamond earrings under the carpet and they must have been washed away somehow by the water.
Needless to say, everyone was somewhat skeptical of the claim.
Other attempts at scamming the insurance company are as common as hair on a monkey.
A Winnipeg man filed a claim that his car had been stolen. The insurance company noticed he made the same claim three years earlier and called him in to ask about both incidents.
Being an honest fellow, the man promptly told the insurance adjuster that the first car theft was a scam. He said the engine on the car was destroyed, so he and a buddy took it into the country and set it on fire before reporting it stolen.
As the insurance guy was looking at the claimant in disbelief, the man said with all honestly, “But I’m not scamming you this time. My car really was stolen.”
Police were notified and the man made it into the Meathead Hall of Fame.
A California man claimed permanent injuries resulting from a car accident. The man said he had chronic pain and brain damage from the crash in which his car was going eight kilometres an hour.
I have personally crashed a skateboard faster than that without injury, but somehow the man convinced the insurance company the claims were legitimate and he was awarded monthly payments to get him through such a horrendous time.
To relieve the pain the man vacationed in the Bahamas, where he went scuba diving and hiking and did a variety of physical activities on a regular basis.
To help his memory problems, he obtained his pilot’s license.
To no surprise, the man was busted and is facing a variety of legal woes.
Another man also claimed he could not work delivering newspapers because of injuries sustained in a car accident. The insurance company bought it and he received monthly payments as well. But the man returned to his job on the sly while still collecting the monthly payments.
However, one of the places he delivered the newspaper was the same insurance office he was scamming. He was soon recognized and will also be nominated for the Meathead Hall of Fame.
There is no shortage of people trying to pull off a scam, and there is also no shortage of people who prove to be dumber than a paving stone.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Date night to remember, even if I don't want to

It was a date night we will not likely forget any time soon.
Having been married for almost 25 years, my wife and I still try to get out once in a while without a herd of children hovering around us.
When we were first married this was not a problem because there were no ankle biters to worry about so we could go on a date night whenever we wanted. But back then, we did not appreciate this fact. It wasn’t until kids started showing up that we realized how nice it was to go out just the two of us.
I love my kids, but separation makes the heart grow fonder and every once in a while it is nice to enhance that fondness.
When the first born arrived, date nights were tossed out the window. Aside from being frantic first timers, the Momma was the main food supply and when she left, so did dinner for Junior so we stuck pretty close to home.
We repeated this two more times. We were no longer frantic first timers, but the Momma was still meals to go as far as baby was concerned, so date nights were put on hold until the little ones could be fed by someone other than the Momma.
Faster than I expected, the babies grew to toddlers, who grew to school children, who grew to teens.
Throughout those years, date nights were held, but not with the regularity we would have liked.
The kids are now old enough that not a lot of planning is required for us to get out of the house.
“Kids, your mom and I are going out.”
“OK, what’s for supper?”
“Whatever you make, see ya.”
That is one of the major benefits of having teenage children. There are still commitments and being a family of five means always being busy, but we can now have our dates with less planning than we have been able to in many years.
This date night involved a movie. We snuck away, I mean left the kids at home and headed to a show where we only had to pay for the two of us to get in. It was still not cheap, but at least I did not have to sell a kidney just to finance the night out.
After a nice, relaxing movie we decided to head home and end date night with a glass of wine and a visit to the hot tub.
This is where things went off the rails.
Upon arrival, Junior told us the basement was wet. In an instant I knew date night was over and something most unpleasant was about to begin.
With visions of the movie still dancing in my head and a relaxing hot tub sitting in the backyard beckoning for me to visit, I ventured downstairs with more than a little trepidation.
Had a pipe burst? Did someone leave a tap running and flooded the basement? Did the washing machine explode pouring water everywhere?
I should have been so lucky. Nope, date night would end with a backed up sewer line.
Say it with me, “Eeeeeeew, that is disgusting.”
So instead of a glass of red and a bubbling tub of soothing heated water, I was ankle deep in, um, well, let’s just call it some really icky stuff.
I spent the rest of the evening cleaning, muttering under my breath and thinking of what might have been as I dug out my trusty shop-vac to do a job I would really rather not be doing.
Once the machine had sucked up as much water, and other material as possible, I knew there was nothing more I could do that evening. I also knew the mood was officially killed and the hot tub would have to sit empty while I sat on the couch and bemoaned my bad fortune.
The next morning we got the insurance claim rolling and began the task of repairing our basement.
Like I said, it is a date night we will remember for a long time.