Friday, June 21, 2013

A little pain was a big problem

I would never consider myself a tough guy, but I am not exactly a dainty little flower either.
I played hockey which results in bumps and bruises of all sorts. I rode dirt bikes to the very edge of catastrophe and street bikes even farther.
When you do such activities at that level of enthusiasm, you are going to crash and you are going to get hurt – it is that simple.
I have been in numerous dirt-bike wipeouts and several street-bike mishaps, but I walked away from all of them, a little scuffed perhaps, but I still walked away.
Road rash absolutely sucks, and is one of the most painful things you can inflict upon yourself short of taking your mother-in-law on a multi-day road trip (which I have done.)
I have also done martial arts for many years. While I train for the exercise aspect of the sport, you do occasionally get hurt.
That is why I found the doctor’s office incident so bizarre.
I was at the local practitioner of medicine for a minor thing when I mentioned I had skin tags.
These are a little build up of excess skin that your body can not think of anything to do with so they kind of grow like a flesh-tone zit.
I know, very appealing.
It is not like I was covered in the things to the point I could star in a Stephen King feature, but I had a few and when I mentioned them to the doc, his eyes lit up.
“We can take care of those right now,” he said with the enthusiasm of med student.
He scampered out of the room and came back with this little plastic shield thingy in one hand, a canister with a squeeze-pump in the hand and a look of glee on his face.
The canister contained dry ice that he was going to spray on the skin tags.
I do not know how often he does this procedure, but anytime a man gets to use a tool of any sort, it often brings a smile.
The doc put the little plastic shield thingy around one of the tags, squeezed the pump, released the spray and scored a direct hit on the zit wannabe.
The part he did not mention was it would sting. That kind of caught me by surprise, but it was only a minor amount of pain, so it was no big deal, right?
Out of nowhere, the room started to grow dim, I became light headed, I started to lose my balance and felt for sure I was going to hit the ground faster than the ethics of a Senator.
The doc had a few sprays to do, and each one brought a minor stinging sensation.
With each spray I got closer to taking a carpet nap, but I fought to maintain control while thinking how silly it is that such a minor amount of pain should cause such a reaction.
“C’mon you big baby. Don’t be such a big baby,” was the pep talk I gave myself as the world around me continued to fade.
I managed not to go face first into the wall on my way to to the floor, and when he was done I was on my way – my very wobbly way.
I thought the worst was over, but after walking two minutes to the grocery store to meet the Missus I once again thought I was going out.
All I could think of was how embarrassing it would be to pass out in the middle of the grocery store.
“Attention associates, clean up on aisle two –middle-aged bald guy passed out, bring a gurney for the big baby.”
Fortunately I managed to take some deep breaths and the moment passed, saving me the trauma of having a forced snooze in the middle of the produce aisle.
I have experienced a lot more pain than that before – I fractured both big toes in a single hockey game once and never missed a shift – but for some bizarre reason the sting nearly sent me sprawling.
Go figure.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tornado makes for memorable vacation

The horrific events in Oklahoma recently have brought back some memories of my own personal encounter with a tornado.
How did a born-and-raised B.C. boy end up staring down the business end of a twister? Let's just say it was not on the vacation brochure.
I witnessed the raw power of Mother Nature when I was about 12 years old and the family was venturing out on one of our annual marathon road trips into the United States.
We were heading to Lousianna because my parents actually knew some people down there whom they had not seen in many years.
It was the first time I had ever heard a Southerner speak (this was long before Duck Dynasty or any other southern red neck show) so it was interesting to hear people say, 'Y'all.'
Appearantly, when you are down south certain vowels are optional when you speak. Why? Beats me, but that's the way they did it.
We spent a couple weeks with our American bretheran, and to this day I still say Y'all. It is just something I picked up and it stuck with me like a language tattoo. I also occasionally say po-lice, with an emphasize on the 'po' part. Other than that, I remained a true Canadian, eh.
Anyway, on our way to the land of gumbo (whatever that is), we ended up in a campground in the middle of Tornado Alley.
We were a family of six in a big blue van hauling a tent trailer and as we were setting up for the evening, we noticed the sky looking rather ominous. And by ominous, I mean apocalyptic kind of ominous.
We went about our business as the heavens grew darker, and eventually the wind and rain became a concern.
Then my dad heard someone say two words that sent us into a near panic -  'tornado watch.'
We were from B.C., so what did we know about tornados? Nothing, that's what. We dialed in to the emergency radio station where the announcer said if you hear what sounds like a freight train, that is a tornado.
We had been hearing that sound for the last 20 minutes. We all looked to dad for guidance, not considering this was his first tornado as well.
But he knew what to do and we were ready to abandon camp and head for cover.
The announcer confirmed a tornado was on the ground and we spent several tense minutes listening to the radio and trying to figure out exactly where the twister was. Being tourists, we had knew few reference points and had a hard time pinpointing its location.
It turned out to be a lot closer than we thought. The tornado broke up less than two miles from our campsite. It was heading straight for us.
It wasn't a huge tornado and fortunately no lives were lost, but it was one of the most memorable and definitely the most terrifying family vacation moment ever.
It wasn't until many years later I started to wonder what dad was thinking as we huddled in our van listening to an emergency radio channel while a storm unlike any we had ever seen raged nearby.
I remember my little brother looked terrrified, mom sat in prayerful silence and my two sisters were on the verge of tears born of fear and stress.
But somehow dad looked calm. 
Perhaps I saw the situation through they eyes of a pre-teen who knew his dad was the biggest and strongest person alive and he would never let anything bad happen to us.
I can recall a look of conern, but not fear on his face. On the inside, he was likely as scared as any of us, but with all eyes upon him, he did not show it.
He told us of his plan should the tornado get closer and I found great comfort knowing Dad had everything under control.
Eventually the radio announcer said the storm had broken up and our moment of tornado terror was over.
I am sure no one was more relieved than my father.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry - you have got to be kidding me

I spent about 90 minutes in the Chair of Doom the other day where the dentist used all sorts of power tools on my pearly whites.
Right on cue, when he had a drill, suction thingy, several fingers and that stupid rubber dam installed he decided it was the perfect time for some small talk.
Other than a 'yes' or 'no' answer (which typically come out as 'oog' and 'ug'), it is pretty hard to carry on a conversation. I am not sure why dentists do that, but I think it is a little game they like to play to keep their day interesting and they compare notes at quitting time about all the fun they had trying to make someone talk who has enough hardware in their mouth to build a Smart Car.
While laying back on that sterile, plastic recliner every dentist in North America has, I had plenty of time to think about things.
As I always do when I am in The Chair, I thought, “Wow, does this ever suck.” Which was immediately followed by the thought, “Wow, does this ever suck.”
The third thought was, well, you get the idea. Eventually I tired of thinking how much being in The Chair sucked and moved on to other things, like paying attention to the TV the dentist has in the ceiling of the little room where The Chair and associated power tools are located.
This is a great idea because instead of thinking how much it sucks to be trapped in The Chair on a beautiful sunny day while having a high-speed drill rattling your brain, you can reach distraction by watching some daytime TV.
It only took a few minutes for me to realize just how trashy some daytime TV is (compared to evening and nighttime TV, which is 'classy' from start to finish.)
I am convinced Jerry Springer on his own is enough to damn humanity to judgement, and I reached that conclusion after five minutes.
The episode was about some guy who slept with a stripper and wanted to tell his wife. His wife wanted to tell him she slept with his cousin who was married to her best friend.
Yikes, I needed a score card to keep track of who was doing what.
Every few seconds a fight would break out and the audience would stand up and chant “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry...”
Springer has been on TV for many years, so obviously some people eat this trash up. Personally, I don't get it.
I really don't care if Jim-Bob slept with Suzie-May who is not only his cousin, but his wife's-friend's-aunt's-sister's best friend, or something like that.
But inspite of feeling like I needed a shower, I kept watching. At one point, the dental assistant looked to see what I was viewing and I felt embarrassed at my choice of entertainment.
It is like a car wreck, brought to you daily from some seedy trailer park filled with inebriated and morally challenged hillbillies who have nothing better to do than jump from bed to bed.
Springer had several groups of people who, for some reason, feel it is necessary to tell millions of viewers just how trashy they are.
For me, that is the most baffling part of the whole situation: their willingness to air their dirty laundry in front of the TV cameras.
The more I watched, the more of an appreciation I gained for my wife. We have been married for 25 years this summer and she has proven to be a wonderful partner and terrific mom.
As I watched these 'ladies' admit to actions akin to porno movies, I felt even more blessed to be married to the Missus.
By the time Jerry was done lowering the IQ points of millions of people, the dentist was done drilling holes in my teeth and I was done with Mr. Springer.
I will likely never return to the fiesta of TV trash, but at least I found something more distasteful than having to spend time in the Chair of Doom.