Thursday, November 30, 2006

the real deal

Two of my friends (and students at one of my church classes), Teresa and Debbie kindly agreed to take me to the hospital today for my checkup. The doctor told me, I have "jin bu" which means improved. He was happy to see some bone growth happening!

Look at all that metal! You can see here, a plate on the back of the fibula, lots of nails holding the bone together, and that one big screw which is my biggest impediment to walking!

You can go into the October archives to compare the original wound with today's progress. It's almost better but still a few more weeks until I can do water treatment. You can bet I'll be having a nice long bath once that time comes!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What have I been up to?

Well besides doing random internet quizzes, planning my lessons, and doing physio - will soon be cleared for "water treatment" (which i think entails doing exercises in water so that I can exercise my ankle without putting weight on it), I have been doing a lot of cooking.
This week I've made:
  • cheese biscuits
  • curry
  • apple crisp
  • honey mustard chicken and potatoes with green beans
  • ginger beef stir-fry and fried noodles
  • pasta with alfredo sauce and orange salmon
  • apple and peanut butter
Ok, maybe the last one doesn't qualify as cooking, but that's what I had for lunch one day when I didn't feel like cooking, and didn't have a lot else to choose from in my house.

Dr.'s update tomorrow, if I have anything interesting to report!

kick the bucket

I found the amazing death predictor from Sarah's blog (can you tell I have lots of time on my hands this week) and decided to try it out. The results literally made me laugh out loud!

Charlotte: At age 73 you will realize that you actually died three years earlier, and have been dreaming all the events since then.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


To continue the movie theme, I picked up this meme from over at Michelle's blog:

If your life were a soundtrack, what would the music be?

Here's how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, winamp, media player, iPod).
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press play.
4. For every question, type the song that's playing.
5. New question - press the next button.
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool.

Opening Credits Whole World in His Hands - Passion

Waking Up "Pleasing Your Heart" (in Chinese) - 5B2F

First Day of School "Sweetest Thing" - U2

Falling in Love "Beauty for Ashes" - Crystal Lewis

Breaking Up "Beautiful"- Lowana Wallace

Prom "Until the End" - Joshua

Life's Okay "Angeline" David Tao

Mental Breakdown "Revive me" – Shane and Shane

Driving "Homeward Bound" - Simon and Garfunkel

Flashback "Better Together" - Jack Johnson

Getting Back Together "Numb" - Linkin Park

Wedding "Indescribable" - Chris Tomlin

Birth of a Child "Can you hear us?" David Crowder Band

Final Battle "Mai a hi" You know that weird techno song from Chicken Little

Death Scene "Hazy Shade of Grey" - Simon and Garfunkel

Funeral Song "Home" - Ryan Cadamia

End Credits "Exodus" - Evanescence

Monday, November 27, 2006


In a moment of weakness, I made a cup of delicious English Toffee Cappuccino from Tim Horton's, which came as part of a care package a few months ago. I drank it slowly, with relish, and savoured its sweet, caffeinated scent. I miss Tim Horton's. I miss coffee.

To my credit, I have been abstaining from coffee and tea since my accident when the doctor told me caffeine could negatively affect and slow down my bone regrowth. Also to my credit, I drank two glasses of milk and took 4 calcium pills that day.

In another "aha" moment, I discovered that one of my favorite coffee shops nearby has decaf! Why didn't I think of that before???? Now who wants to wheel me there for a cup of coffee?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Time for a change

I wanted to put up some new colors, and make the blog a little simpler/easier on the eyes. I like the new pic a lot, but I might go for a completely different color scheme soon. Any votes on which color I should use next??

The cookie goodness continues

I still remember the first time I discovered that you could freeze cookie dough in my first year of college. What a brilliant innovation, especially when you live alone. I'd made snickerdoodles back before my accident, and there was still some dough in the freezer which I pulled out and baked yesterday. It was perfect, as I was able to give little packages of cookies to 4 different people who have been helping me, driving me places, and coming over to do some stuff around here.
A great little gift when I can't get out and buy something for them!

Friday, November 24, 2006

6 weeks!

Well this isn't my actual x-ray, but it is rather similar to what I have except the plate is higher up and the large screw isn't connected to it. I have a doctor's appointment next Thursday, where hopefully I'll be able to take pictures of both the original x-ray and the current one.

This week I've gone out on my crutches once, and gone to physio twice where I met some Filipinas who are care workers taking some elderly ladies to physio. It was neat to chat with them while the electric current was being shot through my leg. It's nothing much, just a mild tingling feeling. I also have a heat pack I can apply every day at home. That's about the extent of my physiotherapy right now. It's time for mid-terms again, so I have a few days off of class to plan my December lessons, and try to find other ways to amuse myself.

I've been trying to think through going out by myself (like is it possible, how could i do it, where should i go) and have concluded that I'm not quite at that stage yet, but I'm getting there slowly. I also did a step on my crutches this week without hesitation, whereas before I'd have to hesitate and work myself up to it for a few minutes. I haven't done a series of stairs yet which is necessary before I can try to take the train.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Good things about my splint

I'm so happy to have this splint instead of a cast. Let me count the ways:
  1. it's ok if it gets a little wet, so i don't have to be as careful in the rain/showering etc.
  2. it smaller than a cast, so i can wear most of my normal pants again
  3. it's more comfortable
  4. i can take it off, wash, lotion, apply heat, and massage
I almost fell yesterday, it was really terrible. I was getting my folder for today's class and I lost my balance. I actually hopped around for almost a minute trying to get my crutches back under me and stable, and I finally made it to the tv and steadied myself on it. I was shaking for about 10 minutes afterward. But it also occurred to me that it probably would have looked really humorous to anyone watching, almost like something out of a movie like Home Alone. haha I can laugh because I didn't actually fall, but it was really scary.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

time capsule

Amanda is reflecting on where she was 20 years ago, and inspired me to post:

20 years ago, 1986: I was 4 years old! Living in Killam, Alberta and getting ready to go to Kindergarten, which incidentally was directly across the street from the big white house we lived in. Played with "auntie" Carol, and my sister Sarah.

10 years ago, 1996: I was 14 years old, living in Castlegar, BC and in grade 9. My high school had 4 color-coded hallways: lockers, walls, chairs and desktops in the classrooms were all that color. My locker was in the orange hall.

5 years ago, 2001: I was a freshman at Briercrest and surviving my first Saskatchewan winter.

1 year ago, 2005: I was just in Yilan, doing my thing... not to different from what I'm doing now, except I could walk...

Friday, November 17, 2006

thinking too much

A sort of infamous common Taiwanese phrase that has been known to drive foreigners here crazy is "You think too much!" (Ni xiang tai duo le!) But after my doctor's apt. I really have had a lot to think about...
A. I can't walk for 6 months true
But now I know WHY. One of the 9 screws they put into my leg during surgery is a really long one which horizontally connects the broken bone (Fibula) to the larger Tibia for stability. But since walking and especially weight bearing causes some movement in between bones, and despite what you may think, metal is NOT as strong as bone, there's a change that if I stepped on it the wrong way/turned funny/stepped too hard on it that that metal screw could break, and it would be nearly impossible to remove if that happened.
But there's some good news: while my doctor wants to respect the original 6 months given by the surgery doctor, he said if they see positive healing sooner (by say... january or february) I could have it removed sooner.

B. I'm not allowed to fly home for Chinese New Year false
No one is really sure WHERE that rumor got started, but my doctor denied making any such recommendation. On the other hand: navigating an airport on crutches (what about my bags??) and going home while there is still ice on the ground may not be the best of choices. Also, not only would I not be mobile (unable to visit anyone by greyhound like i did last time), but I don't actually have health coverage in Canada anymore since I transferred my residence over here. So emergency, regular check-up and physio would all present a problem were I there for any length of time.
BUT to add to the conundrum.. my office suggested they could make an exception to my holiday time if i wanted to take a month or more off and go home, since I won't really have any duties here for about that long. Also my parents have been planning to come sometime in January, and I was originally thinking I'd go back with them (solves airport problems one way) but only for 2 weeks (thus only taking 3 days of vacation time and Chinese New Year, and leaving some vacation days for a future trip if I wanted it).

well that's all for now.. i had my first physio appointment and all they did was stick this electrode type thing on my leg and foot for about 20 minutes. But i'm allowed to take my splint off and exercise, massage carefully and apply heat packs/hot cloths to the parts where there isn't any wound. Please pray that I can find someone to drive me to physio 3 times a week! Right now people with cars are a little difficult to track down. They also said I can take the splint off when I sleep. I told my doctor I was a little afraid to do that in case I rolled around or something and she told me it would be pretty much impossible to rebreak my leg or even do any serious damage in my sleep unless i started sleepwalking! So I had my first --slightly nervous-- splint-free sleep last night. And my leg didn't fall apart, so I guess it's all good!

I'm gonna go drink some milk now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

i called it

thanks for the encouragement after my last entry. still waiting on the doctor's appointment tomorrow, so don't want to say too much yet.
I remember thinking in the hospital... i'm using my cell phone an awful lot... i'll bet my bill next month is $100!
Well I got the damage today, NT$2, 967.
In Canadian dollars that's $103.00.
That's a little pricey.
Actually, apart from hospital bills, I've spending a lot less money than I normally do, since I'm going out a lot less than I normally do. I suspect I'm actually saving quite a bit by not buying my daily tea or coffee, not "browsing" the night market or other fun stores around Yilan, and not eating out.
More tomorrow!

Monday, November 13, 2006


well i'm going into my 3rd week back in class and my 5th week total since my accident, and i'm feeling tired. tired of crutches and wheelchairs and not leaving my house apart from work, and not being able to do stuff for myself.

my one surgery has changed to two surgeries again, and maybe (i'm really unclear about this part) i won't be able to walk until the largest screw is removed, which might be 6 months. originally i thought i'd be walking in Feb. how can it be so long???? I don't really know what's going to happen, but i'll have more info on thurs when I visit the doctor again. i've been wondering if i'll have to go back to canada for awhile if it looks like my recovery is going to be really complicated, but what would i do there? i can still teach, it's just the getting around that's difficult at the moment. I need to get better on my crutches. I still get tired pretty quickly after walking on them steadily 5-10 minutes.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

One month down...

Yesterday was exactly one month since my surgery and today something exciting happened: my cast was replaced with a half splint!! I went to see the doctor and he said if I was really "guai" (well behaved, usually said of pets and little children) he'd allow me to put a splint on my leg instead of a new cast, and also let me start physiotherapy sooner. This was good news to me, so I transferred to another hospital where their whole second floor is physio (another word added to my Chinese vocabulary: fu jian ke). Actually it looked really fun, with lots of little machines for people to do exercises to regain mobility in various joints. But I wasn't there to exercise today, but to get the splint. It was a really cool feeling, first he put this hot putty-like substance over my leg and foot, and shaped it, making sure my ankle was at 90 degrees. They warned me that it would feel really hot, but to tell you the truth, it's the first time my toes have felt warm in a month!! After that he took it away to harden and line the edges. It's fixed to my leg with just velcro over the top, so actually i do have to be more careful than with the cast, because it can move around more easily. But they said this way i can take it off and wash my foot, and exercise my ankle when it's ready. It's also a lot more comfortable. I'll put some pictures up as soon as i can. Actually I think the toe part looks a lot like a duck's foot. You can judge for yourself soon.

Food update: my doctor told me that I shouldn't eat bananas too, and added mangoes, seafood, and spicy foods to the list.... sigh at least I don't have to eat congee every day!

Monday, November 06, 2006

She Stole My Bananas!

Well, a week has passed and things have gone reasonably well. I taught 19 hours last week (my max is 26) and classes themselves were fine. My students were all very curious about my injury and I received a few cards and many well wishes.

Getting to and from school has been a bit of a gong show. I had to blow dry my cast when I got home one day, as it has been raining all week. I've been wrapping it in plastic food wrap (a little more attractive than a garbage bag), but so far the schools have ramps/elevators so I don't have to climb up any stairs. Being pushed in a wheelchair can be a harrowing experience at times. The wheelchair my coworker borrowed for me has an interesting feature. On the bottom of the handles are what look like bicycle hand breaks, but don't be fooled - their function is to move the top of the seat back so the person in the wheelchair is in a reclining position. I discovered that if I forget to warn each new pusher, I'll get a sudden jolt when they try to use the breaks...

Anyways, to explain the title of this post, I must say something about Chinese medicine. There are lots of traditions and customs in Chinese medicine that are followed religiously by many Taiwanese people, especially older people. These include things like not eating anything cold in the winter (or any time if you can help it), not eating certain fruits if you have a cold, and not washing one's hair at certain times (most notably for the first month after childbirth).
As a foreigner, I don't really understand the whys of these customs and I seemed to get along ok for the previous 24 years that I didn't follow them, so I can take or leave them...

Most recently learned rule: You should not eat bananas when you have a wound, or especially a broken bone. There are varying opinions as to why and for how long one should abstain. Someone had brought me bananas in the hospital, and one lady insisted I shouldn't eat them. Later a nurse assured me it was fine. So on Friday night, when one of my helpers from the church said she wanted to buy me some bananas, I jokingly said to her, "Don't you believe in Chinese medicine?" She said she'd never heard of not being allowed to eat bananas because you're hurt, so bought me a bunch of 6.

On Saturday the lady who works in our apartment building was helping me with a few things, and freaked out when she saw the bananas. She insisted I shouldn't eat them and offered to take the accursed things away from me. I told her it was ok, since I'm a foreigner and don't believe in Chinese medicine, but she just said, no, everyone knows bananas are bad for your bones. When I asked her why, she couldn't say, she just knew. Throughout this whole discussion, she was holding the bunch protectively in her hands. I told her that a Taiwanese young person had bought them for me, and she said "oh young people don't know anything" and assured me that she would "help me" take them away. What could I do? She'd just brought me lunch and helped me do a load of laundry. I let her go with my bananas. After she left I couldn't help but laugh as I thought to myself, "She just stole my bananas!"

I'll be sure to look up any connection when I get my computer back (hopefully in the next day or so). Until then here is the quote of the week, which probably isn't amusing if you don't understand Chinese: "Man man zou, bu shi, man man tiao" (慢慢走,不是,慢慢跳) which means "Walk slowly, I mean, Jump slowly." In Chinese when they put 'man man' before a verb, it means "take your time" so if they finish eating before you, they might say "man man chi" (eat slowly). The quote occured when my friend called me to open the downstairs door for her, and was telling me to take my time crutching across the room.