Wednesday, February 27, 2013

FOOTNOTE NUMBER 2

Another early and recurring thought after finding out I’d broken my foot:  Looks like any chance of dating is on hold. 

Not that I’d been going for dinner and coffee with nervous suitors a heckuva lot, pre-pratfall. And, to be honest, my inbox hasn’t been clogged with messages from people completely taken with my online pics and profile since the accident. In fact, my last date was five months ago. My last online expressions of interest came from a fellow in Dallas with an apparent affinity for photographing himself in the shower and a beastly dude with hairy ears. Seriously hairy. At first, I thought it was a joke in which the guy emulated Tumnus, the faun in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But every picture, even those taken from a distance showed off the hairy ears. I’m talking ear manes. I assume the guy is targeting a fetish niche.

Technically speaking, the broken foot has zero impact on my dating slump. But I can kid myself into thinking that I was on the cusp of turning things around. I’d been feeling good about myself and, with that confidence, I was ready to send a message to a guy online whom I’d previously dismissed as being “out of my league.”

Can you date on crutches? Well, sure. Pardon the pun, though, I like to put my best foot forward. On dates, I often have nervous energy and, if there’s any chemistry, I like to get up and walk about. The crutches cast needless attention on my natural klutziness. And, as noted in Footnote Number 1, needless attention to a growing gut.

I suppose I could turn this current inconvenience into an advantage. I suspect that more people have foot fetishes than ear hair fixations. I could even add a closeup photo of my cast, a head-on shot with the toes sticking out. Yes, hunky single gays, come play “This little piggy” with me! Still, what if things blossom and playing footsy is not enough come April when I am free of casts and boots? What if he wants me to don a cast for old time’s sake? And what if he wants to cut my toenails and save the clippings?

Yeah, all fetishes are out.

Two decades ago when there was a lively gay bar scene, the crutches might have played to my advantage. I have noticed that my hobbling around provides a conversation starter with strangers. Unfortunately, without a predominant gay gathering place, the informal chats are mainly with seniors who seem to enjoy having a young whippersnapper as an elevator companion on the ferry. They’re all quite lovely, but we’re not exchanging phone numbers.

Realistically, any shot at dating again won’t come until July when I am truly footloose and flabby free. No doubt I’ll be dating with a vengeance by then. Or maybe I’ll realize that the foot is the least of my problems. Sometimes reality is best postponed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

FOOTNOTE NUMBER 1


My last post chronicled the ordeal of finding out I’d broken my foot. My first response was a feeling of validation. Not elation, but satisfaction that what I felt was real and not an overreaction over an ow-ie.

But a split second thereafter, reality set in:  I’m gonna get  fat.

That is a preposterous as an immediate thought for most, I realize, but one never fully shakes an eating disorder. I manage in normal circumstances. A broken foot changes everything.

The night before my accident, I’d bought new jogging gear after renewing my routine with a 12-kilometer run earlier in the week. Running with crutches? Highly impractical.

My swimming regimen is also sidelined.

Gym workouts? As I waited in Emergency, I visualized a gym tour, considering every machine, bench and free weight. What became clear was that most apparatus would be off limits.

I have been back to the gym three times since the accident. My two-and-a-half hour workouts are now forty minutes, during which I use machines that don’t seem to do much. I go through the motions, hoping the exercise will make the comeback trail a little easier when I’m cast-free.

It’s the lack of cardio exercise that generates the most despair.

I know I have already gained weight. I remind myself it is to be expected. There will be plenty of time to work it off come April. Still, I feel surges of panic. A pound is not a pound to me. It’s more like six. If I’ve already gained three, my reaction would be similar to someone who has gained eighteen. It’s more than a setback. It feels like I’ve lost control. I do not have the power I want and need.

Based on my visit to a specialist today, I will be out of commission for 8 ½ weeks.  And that doesn’t factor in any physio that will follow. If I’m lucky, I’ll get through this with 8-10 (48-60) extra pounds at most. I will have to up the intensity of my workouts right away. How long will it take to get back to a fitter me? Will I have the drive to do so? Why am I not dieting right now?

In moments of calmness, I remind myself that this is all temporary. I will work through this. If only I could fight the perception that my belly is expanding with alarming speed and that everyone sees it.

Clearly, navigating with crutches is the least of my worries.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

MY LEFT FOOT (without Daniel Day-Lewis)

Eighteen hours after the accident, I finally got to leave the hospital.

Well, the second hospital.

One of the many unique aspects of my commute is that I do not have access to a car at home between Monday morning and Friday night.  As it is too costly to drive my vehicle on the ferry each day, I leave my car on the other side and walk an hour a day in traveling to and from terminals.  That’s a bit of a drag during British Columbia’s three seasons of rain, but it’s a tremendous hindrance when a car is needed for an emergency.

Let’s back up and start with the accident.

I awoke at 2 a.m. with a frightening headache.  I’ve had a lot of migraines lately, but this was something different.  Nausea soon followed.  I got up to head to the bathroom, but I never made it.  I passed out and awoke to find myself lying on the floor in the hallway some time later, bathed in sweat and slathered in frantic kisses from my dog. There are dogs that make the news for alerting neighbors to a concern.  They would make Lassie proud.  My dog just licks.  (For all I know, there may have been a trace of spaghetti sauce on my face.)  Still, it was nice to be reminded I wasn’t completely alone.

As I tried to get up, an intense pain from the top of my foot kept me down.  Eventually, I hopped and hobbled to grab my phone and after ten minutes of hesitation, I called 911.  Without my car, there was no other way to get to the hospital.  All Woody Allen-esque panic over a POTENTIAL BRAIN TUMOR was temporarily replaced by my ground-level survey of the scattered belongings all over the place.  Clearly, I was not ready to receive company! I swatted away dust bunnies and shoved all reachable belongings behind the bedroom door before changing into underwear without any tears in it.

The EMTs didn’t gasp at the hideous black and orange throw on the bed or lapse into a sneezing fit due to severe allergies.  In fact, they never made it up the stairs. Although I’d hopped to unlatch the sliding door leading to the back deck, the 911 operator called back to inform me that I would have to hop down the staircase to open the front door. I didn’t regard this as a sound directive considering I had just fainted and suffered a foot injury, but the EMTs would not enter unless I complied. Once inside, the EMTs didn’t express much concern about my pain; instead, they grilled me on whether I’d been drinking or doing drugs.  That made me laugh.  My house may be a mess, but I’m the cleanest guy you’ll ever meet. As they had me hop unassisted and climb barefoot into the ambulance, I had the distinct impression that they felt this was a completely unnecessary outing.

After the twenty-minute wait for the ambulance and the thirty-five minute ride to hospital, I had my blood pressure and temperature checked and my foot wrapped.  The nurse phoned the doctor, presumably on-call for night-time ER incidents; she solemnly announced that the doctor had been debriefed and he didn’t feel a need to see me.  If I wanted an X-ray—and there was a clear implication that it would only be an act of acquiescence—I could come back later in the day.  She called a taxi,  got me a wheelchair and gave me directions to the exit. I’d have to wheel myself.  Arriving home, I paid the cabbie $85 and crawled back of the stairs to stair at a nicely bandaged foot and to ponder my medically diagnosed case of acute wimpiness.

I tossed and turned for a couple of hours before calling my parents in Texas.  No need to Google my medical condition when my mother is a former nurse and my father a retired emergency room doctor. Despite knowing my medical history includes recurring incidents of being a big wuss, they insisted I get a second opinion so I booked an afternoon appointment with a physician filling in for my family doctor, called a cab, got special permission to be dropped off nearer to the ferry and hopped aboard, trying futilely not to make a spectacle of myself. 

“Why is that man hopping?” one toddler asked.

“Shh. And don’t look at him,” answered the parent with a keen sense of Stranger Danger.  Once I’d rented a pair of crutches, I was pleased to leave the Public Displays of Hopping to the Easter Bunny, sack race enthusiasts and the sand flees that ruin beach visits.

At the doctor’s office in Vancouver, the fill-in doc asked what happened. I wasn’t ten seconds into my explanation when he interrupted.  “That happened twelve hours ago. Why didn’t you call an ambulance?”

“I did.”

“They sent you home? They knew you lived alone?!”

Affirmative.

Treatment?

Negative. 

After referring me to St. Paul’s Hospital, I had to repeat this explanation each time I was transferred from Radiology to Emergency to Emergency Fast Track to Emergency Doctor Number One to Emergency Doctor Number Two. My former American mindset told me their tsks and head shakes meant the same thing:  malpractice.  Of course, I am not a litigious fellow.

I bravely suppressed all overt signs of Acute Wimpiness during the next six hours. In fact, I have no doubt I bore an uncanny resemblance to this shining symbol of the ‘70s:


I smiled, I joked, I said “thank you” a lot. And I learned that medical professionals check their happy faces at the door. It’s one serious biz.

After tumbling off an X-ray platform in Radiology, I laughed even more—such a klutz—and the attendants looked exponentially more solemn. Clearly, I hadn’t convinced them I was lawsuit averse.

I waited for the results in the hallway alongside extremely old patients with closed eyes on wheelie cots.

 Are they alive?

Do they only cover corpses with a bed sheet on television?

How is it that they are more ghostly than my naturally pasty complexion?

 I reaffirmed my decision that I would never want an open-casket funeral.

And then I got the news. I gave a thumbs-up to the technician and said, “Good to go?”

He sat beside me before responding. “Actually, no. You have several fractures.”

While I did not want a broken foot, the news came as validation. Turns out Acute Wimpiness was, in this instance at least, a misdiagnosis. I had felt I needed an X-ray and a CT-scan and my hunch proved correct. Thankfully, the CT-scan showed no abnormalities.

What began as a muddled hectic evolved into a moment of extreme clarity: living alone in a rural setting cannot continue. While others may have idealistic experiences amid the quaintness of small towns and sleepy hamlets, this is the wrong lifestyle for me to go through on my own.

If only I could be moving on...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A VALENTINE’S FANTASY

I wish Valentine’s Day were a national holiday, the kind where banks, schools and government offices close. Not because I think it’s a deserving day. No, quite the contrary. I’d be happy to wipe the occasion right off the calendar. But that won’t happen. For all the publicity the NRA gets, I suspect Hallmark is a more powerful lobby. If the day has to exist, then let me stay home and cocoon myself from the spectacle of in-your-face lovers toting bouquets of red balloons, sad looking single roses and boxes of chocolates oh so thinly disguised in shiny wrapping.

Yes, I bemoan the day every year. Even when I’ve been in a relationship and actually been in love, I have always felt that an obligatory recognition of one’s coupledom didn’t mean much. (Not to be a total cupid basher, I do like the red hot heart candies. Had I planned ahead, I could have bought a bagful and wolfed them down by the handful, not having to share and not having a mate to gaze with that knowing look of revulsion.)

Thankfully, this year’s Valentine’s Day proved rather uneventful. Had it not been for a plate of pink-frosted cupcakes in the lunch room and an odd display of cut-out hearts and champagne flutes at my regular bakery stop, the occasion might not have registered at all.

But then I picked up my schnauzer from doggy daycare after work. Clive, the owner, leaped from his seat and fiddled with what I assumed was some paperwork as a chorus of small-dog yips attempted to instill fear in me.  Go away. Go away. Go away.  I waited patiently for my pooch to be released, a dopey smile plastered on my face. The delay mildly perplexed me since the end-of-day handoff is usually so quick.

Finally, my dog came running from the pen and Clive handed me a red heart-shaped sucker and a Valentine’s Card, the kind kids buy in packs of ten at the drugstore. I thanked him, loaded up the car and allowed myself to fantasize about the card as I drove away.

I feel slightly ashamed to objectify my doggy daycare provider, but Clive is an enticing piece of eye and ear candy. The first time I dropped off my dogs two and a half years ago (once has since died), I was completely taken aback by Clive’s hunky good looks. He’s in his early thirties, stands about 6’2” and has a nicely not overdone gym body. Add the English accent and I had a hard time looking directly at him for the first year. (I’m more bashful than a certain Dwarf when I am attracted to a man.) Many of the women who drop off their dogs seem to linger during the dropoff or pickup, but I still cannot have a prolonged conversation with him.

Dating Clive is not a real possibility for any of us who support the business. Clive wears a wedding band that I seem to spot every day as I look downward, unable to maintain eye contact. Still, a quick trip to Fantasyland is an amusing diversion when I have a clear understanding of unattainable reality.  Clive’s gentle head-tilting demi-wave is a lovely morning sendoff each morning as I head to work.

In my car, I imagined for a moment that dear Clive, he of the boyish charms, had purchased a kiddie pack of Valentine’s just to charm me with daring disclosure of true infatuation. Yes, Clive! I feel the same! Thank you for finally telling me how you really feel!

The first red light came all too soon. I opened the silly little card and read the message: 

To:  Dad   

From:  Hoover

 

Yes, I knew all along what it would say. In the doggy daycare world, getting a card from your dog is entirely plausible. A note from an amazingly sexy man? Pure fantasy. Still, the temporary deception left a smile on my face. And, on February 14th, that was more than I could have asked for.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

IN THE SHADOWS

Today should be a big day.  Huge!  Aside from a few farmers and a couple of wrong-footed cows, who doesn’t love a groundhog?  Cute little dudes, otters of the land. Unfortunately, Groundhog Day creeps up on us and comes and goes with little fanfare.  No greeting cards, no costumes, no parties, no cake.  Tragic, really.  I am sure whoever first dreamed up the occasion had a grander vision.  Somehow everything went amiss.  The lowly groundhog isn’t even as popular as the penguin...and there isn’t even a Penguin Day.  If a groundhog surfaces today and appears a little disgruntled, surely we are to blame.

Had Groundhog Day made it on the August calendar, I am certain it would be a Big Deal.  Parades, groundhog-shaped chocolates to outsell hedgehogs and, yes, cake.  August really needs a Groundhog Day.  Forget the winter schminter gimmick.  Let’s let the little critter forecast an endless summer, delaying the red leaves of autumn.  And consider the legacy of the movie “Groundhog Day”.  Who wants to experience a day in February on repeat mode?  August 2, over and over, has a much greater appeal.

Alas, Groundhog Day got relegated to the second day of the second month of the year and, like the animal, the day lives forever in the shadows of a bigger beast:  Valentine’s Day.  Driving my dog to the vet this morning, I had to exercise my fine motor skills, ping-ponging back and forth from radio station to radio station to tune out an ad about a Radio Valentine campaign, a florist’s dollar-eyed pitch to remember your loved one and a disc jockey’s community announcement about a Love Ball at the dreary town hall.

Sadly for groundhogs and non-hunky bachelors like me, love is all around.  While the official love-fest is over and done midmonth, the love hangover stretches right through the month.  It’s the shortest month of the year,...why bother with any more hoopla?  The Haves can stretch things out with cake and, maybe even better, chocolates. 

If only the Irish and Hallmark got together to kick the Saint Paddie plans into higher gear.  Who doesn’t love a leprechaun?  And gold!