Month: June 2013

Flat-Out Friday: Fallout

I was trying to decide what to write this week and I realized that I have been so emotionally and physically invested in what has been happening in my province that I haven’t really taken the time to figure out how I am.

In the car on the way to our tattoo parlour today, I was talking to Matt about it. I came to realize that this whole thing with the scar tissue and my pain increasing has really done a number on my body and my soul. In addition to being in pain constantly, I’m nervous – way more nervous than I should be.

So is the pain I’m in heightening my latent anxieties? Or are the uncontrolled acts of God weighing heavily on my soul?


I can’t be a passenger in the car without holding the “oh crap” handle. I lie awake thinking about all the mistakes I made in my life, ones not even related to the accident or ones I’ve already resolved. I just cringe at the thought of getting any more work done on my tattoo, or bloodwork, or anything that might cause me more pain than necessary. I haven’t been swimming because I can’t stand the thought of getting to the pool and having other women look at me in the change room. Sirens make me very, very edgy. I’m becoming insular, withdrawn, and emotional. I slept 14 hours last night for absolutely no reason.

So what is wrong with me?

I’m seeing the doctors next week – both my physician and my psychiatrist. I’m hoping that they will have some answers for me. Moreover, I’m hoping that this isn’t indicative of something worse.

So that’s where I’m at. I want to be better, but I can’t handle the idea of getting there right now. I don’t know. Maybe I need a break. Maybe I need to give myself a break. I can’t be incredibly strong for so long and not expect a little fallout.

Fallout sucks.

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Week in Review: Science Experiment Goes "Boink"

As any Calvin and Hobbes fan will recognize, the title of my post today refers to the small blond boy’s escapades with his transmogrifier, a cardboard box that at times duplicated, transformed, and transported him on epic adventures. This past week I’ve felt like someone has transmogrified me into something I’m not usually, and taken the regular me out for pizza.

Everything aches, and I wish I was exaggerating. I have been laid out cold with a headache three times. I haven’t been sleeping normally, as you can probably tell by my tweets and posts at all hours. I’m pale (for me) and wan, black circles under my eyes, and don’t ask me how I’m doing because I just might start crying.

The worst part of all of this is that I have nothing to be upset, anxious, or tense about. Nothing. Yes, my province just experienced a natural disaster, but everyone I know and care about is safe and dry. My husband is off with the army being a superhero still, but I’ve been in touch with him the whole time he’s been gone and he is doing some amazing work, work which makes me enormously proud to be his wife. Yet here I am, barely having left the apartment since he was called away.

The feelings brought up during the flooding experienced by my Southern neighbors might be part of the reason. There is nothing that prepares anyone for the absolute pit of helplessness – I know because I’ve been there. There’s no books or courses or words of wisdom that can ease the feeling of utter despair you get when something so completely out of your control happens to you. Maybe this is what I’m reacting to – something else that’s so beyond my realm of influence that it is making my body relive its ordeal. And maybe that’s just my neuroses talking.

I want this post to be about more than me, though. Because even though my week was awful, there are so many people who had it worse. People who lost everything. People who feared for their lives. People who lost family members and pets. Amazing emergency responders and leaders that worked 40 hour stretches with no sleep. Police that tirelessly canvassed evacuation zones. Soldiers that searched grid by grid of Albertan countryside to make sure that no one was left behind in a danger zone. Firemen that carried old ladies and others to dry ground. Politicians that stood by, as day turned to night, and continued to give press briefings and updates with the same positive attitude they displayed at hour one. This post is about them.

I want to thank every single person who helped and is still helping my province during our time of need, whether they be first responders or concerned citizen, neighbour or friend, employed or volunteer. Even if all you’ve done is give someone a place to charge their phone or a hot drink on the house, thank you. The incredible outpouring of help and support of complete strangers on social media has made these difficult days into one of the most heartwarming ones I have ever experienced. I feel privileged to count myself among those that sought to keep others informed of what was happening in every corner of the province where I had a little insight. It makes me proud and humbled to be witness to all of this. 

And at the same time, it makes me a little worried about the rest of our country. One of our major cities was effectively shut down by uncontrolled weather, and I saw just as many tweets last night about the hockey game as I did about the flood conditions. I saw people attacking regular Albertans, who have very little influence in the sphere of fossil fuel energy, by calling this act of nature the result of tar sands oil production. Alberta didn’t ask for this, and we certainly didn’t incur the wrath of Gaia by living in this province. Before blaming global warming and specifically the major industry of our province, think about the human lives that have been affected by this, and then show some support for your fellow Canadians.

The clean up has already begun in Calgary, and though the flood waters are still high in other areas of the province, the smaller towns and First Nations territories will continue to have help rebuilding from the overwhelming response of volunteers that have risen to answer the call. For the first time since I moved to this province, I can honestly say I am a proud Albertan. Now, if I could just get some sleep.

Flat-Out Friday: The Great Deluge

I can’t sleep. It’s 3 am and I’m making hot chocolate in an effort to try and normalize myself. I can’t sleep because I’m having a mini-crisis. I’m having a mini-crisis because of this: Calgary has declared a state of emergency in response to the flooding of the Bow River. Dams are overflowing. Authorities are evacuating over 25 neighbourhoods. People are banding together over social media to offer support to those effected by all this. Environment Canada’s Weather Office is now saying it will continue to rain in Southern Alberta until Tuesday. And I’m glued to my Twitter feed. They have evacuated the Calgary Zoo. The Zoo! Do you have any idea how hard the transport of that many animals would be? And where would they take them?

This is one of those things that sets off my anxieties. It is a situation completely beyond my control that is effecting people I care about, and, I’ll admit it, me. Even here in Edmonton, it’s effecting me. Thursday night was Date Night again. Matt and I went out for supper, and it was supposed to be a fun, relaxing evening to celebrate his long weekend. He got the call just before our meal came; we took it to go. I drove him to the base, and right now he’s somewhere south of here, coordinating military efforts to support the Calgary Emergency crews and meet with city engineers to lend help. It’s not looking like he’ll be here tomorrow night either. And I’m not holding my breath for Saturday night’s all ranks dinner/dance.

I knew I was getting a superhero when I fell in love with him, but unlike Lois Lane, I can’t just get myself into the middle of the drama and wait for him to save me. I have to stay here and let him go be the amazing man he is. It’s just so damn hard. So I’m sitting at the computer, hot chocolate now gone, still refreshing my Twitter feed in hopes that I hear some promising news. So far, it looks like water levels are still on the rise. A sea can just rammed a bridge in Roxboro. There is some scary video footage of the water rushing through the middle of the city.

If, like me, you feel helpless but want to do whatever you can to help, visit calgarycitynews.com for updated shelter information and how you can get a hold of the Canadian Red Cross to provide whatever relief you can. The sun may be rising here in the west, but for some of us, the long night isn’t over and the longest day is just beginning.

What’s in a Name?

Since I started writing in my spare time (oh, 20 years ago give or take), I have been obsessed with names and their meanings. It started by wanting to have the perfect name for each character, which grew into wanting to have options for the perfect name for each character. I started with a baby name book, the kind that new parents can get free if they sign up for certain things, and a notebook with built-in alphabetisation. That notebook was colour coded, meticulously kept, and the source of hundreds of “perfect” character names. My handwriting changed, and the notebook underwent some heavy revisions, but it was my personal name bible for a long time.

20 years later, I don’t have the notebook any more but I do possess no less than three baby name books as well as several books on etymology, and the development of written and spoken language. When I say that I proposed a thesis to do my Masters in the connections of language, naming structure, and symbolism between the Egyptians and the Mayans, I am not lying. I was accepted into the program – I just chose not to go.

I am a huge word nerd.

When I can’t sleep at night because I’m fighting with flashbacks, latent anxiety, and night terrors, I comfort myself by doing something soothing and repetitive. I go through the alphabet, one letter at a time, and think up names. Sometimes I start with girls, sometimes with boys. According to my rules, I am not allowed to pick the same name twice. Other rules might include a set number of syllables per name, or names I would never, ever burden my children with. And so it goes.

Matt used to freak out when I randomly spouted, “What about Siobhan?” during tv shows. Now, he accepts that we are talking about mythical children we might someday discuss having, and we can talk openly about the names we like and dislike. And since it’s so hard to find a name that you love that isn’t also the name of every other little boy on your block, it’s nice to be able to have these kinds of things picked out well in advance. You know, just in case.

Currently, our top-runners are names from a breakfast food and a physics genius. But that too may change. If said mythical children ever enter the realm of possibilities, at least we will have explored all the options and, I’m sure, picked out the perfect name.

Week in Review: Head Spins

Flat-Out Friday: Scar Tissue

I can’t rightly say if it’s because of the swimming, or just because my body has reached that point in the healing process, but my physiotherapist thinks (and I agree) that the scar tissue is now pulling away from the break sites in my pelvis.

Say what? Basically, it’s like this. When you break a bone, fluid and blood rush to the area to protect it; sort of like curling into the fetal position if you’ve been kicked in the stomach, it’s a physical, involuntary action. In the case of many break sites like mine, there is only a finite amount of fluid and blood to do the rushing. This means some areas ended up with massive swelling around them that is still definite and present (like my lower back, upper thigh, and right calf and foot), and some areas ended up with visibly less tissue mass around them. My abdomen naturally swells outward but then unnaturally concaves at the front pelvic break site due to the lack of fluid and tissue in the area. This results in more scar tissue and less soft tissue to cushion the site as it rebuilds. What is causing me grief now is that, through the process of building muscle mass again, I seem to be causing the scar tissue to rip away from the break site it has spent all this time protecting.

Gross. I know.

It really hurts. Some days are fine and I can do everything I expect to do. Some days it hurts to sit anywhere, on anything, and don’t even get me started about using the bathroom. Some days I can walk with my new (to me) gait, and some days I look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Or Igor, but with more hunching and less henching. Heat helps, but only in the short term. Stretching makes it worse. Gentle motion, like swim kicks, can some days take my breath away.

When I first started this whole recovery process, I knew it would be a long, painful experience. I also knew that I would be irrevocably changed in many ways, and that I would have to deal with that for the rest of my life. But I figured all the hard work of physically healing was past me now. That I was as good as it gets when it comes to conditions like mine, and all I had to worry about now was getting my head in the right place.

I was so wrong.

You know that adage, “Take it one day at a time”? I honestly have to do that. Every. Single. Day. I have no idea what I’ll feel like from one day to the next. I have no knowledge of how well or how little I’ll sleep tonight, what might ache so badly I throw up tomorrow, or what kinds of crippling emotions or anxieties I’ll experience. If the weather is bad, you can bet I’ll be stiff and creaky. If we have plans, you can almost guarantee my body will make other ones. And I will deal with this, day in and day out, forever. Which I didn’t get before, or just chose not to think about. When I’m 35, I’ll be dealing with it, and I kinda knew that anyways. But when I’m 50, I’ll be dealing with it too, and when I’m 80, I’ll still be dealing with it. (I don’t plan on dying young, so I’m hoping that old age homes will have hover-chairs by then, though they could skip the soothingly androgynous nurse androids; they are creepy.)

Forever is a long, long time. It’s, like, for EVER.

Not in Kansas Anymore

I was going to write a filler post today, but then something interesting happened:

We got a tornado warning. A severe tornado warning.
And suddenly my filler post didn’t matter so much any more. There is nothing as scary and exhilarating as watching a storm bearing down on your location. This one was no exception. Though I have not heard yet if there have been any downspouts confirmed, I can assure you that the clouds were doing the twist right over central Edmonton.  The flag on the pole, though sodden, was flapping from the south wind. The clouds directly above it were moving in from the north fast. There was a wall of water obliterating my view of the river, and I watched as it swallowed up the valley until it hit me. I couldn’t see the WEM first, then I lost the Groat Road bridge, and then suddenly it was on us.
It was raining so heavily that for a moment I even lost Jasper Avenue. And in that moment, the sky lit up pink and purple and the lightning streaked through it. I was blinded and deafened. The sound rattled the windows hard. Wherever it hit, it was close. Really close.
The hail came after that, white marbles bouncing off the concrete building with a distinct ping. They stopped traffic for a moment as no one could see where they were going. The buses waited at their stops so the commuters wouldn’t have to get off into the pelting ice. 
Just as suddenly, it was gone. The sky lightened, and for a moment I could see my whole view of the valley again. The flag stopped dancing.
Then the rain switched direction, and suddenly the wall of water was advancing on me again. The flag began to point south, but the southern clouds were moving steadfastly north. Once more, the hail pounded down and the street lights came on in the middle of the afternoon. Traffic ground to a halt.

The storm is slowly lifting now, moving north, taking the hail, thunder and lightning with it and leaving behind a trail of rain. It is expected to rain now until tomorrow. There are patches of blue sky sprinkled amongst the clouds now, which makes the whole experience seem surreal. My only hope is that this blue sky is a promise of what is to come, and not the eye of a much, much larger storm.