Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's with all the blood stories?

Squeamish readers have been warned.

I hurt my hand Wednesday night. It was a bizarre accident, I tell the story to people and they look at me funny, didn't help that I had a bandage around my wrist that made it look like I tried to off myself. Worry not my friends, I love life too much to purposefully hurt myself.

However, I'm a klutz. Here I was, preparing dinner after a long day at work, and while the eggs were almost ready in the frying pan, I reached in my cupboard to get a plate. What I didn't see was that there was another, smaller plate at the top of the pile, and when I pulled my intended dish, the other one slipped, heading straight for the counter.

At that point, boys and girls, the safe behaviour in a kitchen is to step away from the pending accident and let the plate smash on the counter. My reaction was not quite smart, as I tried reaching for the falling plate to catch it before it became mosaic material. Not a good idea. The plate broke in several pieces, and one large piece made contact with my left hand which, I am assuming, was in full swing towards the jagged ceramic.

It didn't take me long to realize that I had a cut at the junction between my hand and my wrist. I turned the cold water on and tried washing away the blood that was starting to pour out of the cut, but that made things worse. I barely had time to grab a scott towel to dab the blood before it became clear that this was going to bleed a lot.

I live alone. Two things immediately crossed my mind: one, stop the bleeding and two, if I feel faint and pass out, I'll have to deal with a lot more than a cut. So I headed for the bathroom, sat on the floor and pulled the emergency medical kit from the cabinet. Yes, I have a medical kit at home. Everyone should. Comes in handy.

I found sterile gauze pads and started applying them against the cut, lifting my hand over my head (higher than the heart). Both maneuvers intended to slow the bleeding. It kind of did, and for an hour or so, as I sat down in the living room and watched a movie, I continued applying pressure. Unfortunately, the bleeding didn't really stop, each time I changed the gauze it would start again. It only meant one thing: I needed stitches.

Now, put yourself in my shoes. It was about 9 p.m., I had no idea where to call to ask about the closest clinic (opened at this time of the night), couldn't remember the names of the hospitals in the area (it's been a while), so I called my parents. Yes, at 34, when I hurt myself, I still call mom and dad. I wanted to know where they recommend I go, so I could call a cab.

Well, at 24 (that's a typo but I'm leaving it in!), you're apparently not too old for your parents to take care of you. Dad offered to come and pick me up, then drive me to the hospital. "You pay for parking", he said. Deal! We drove to the Montreal General, found parking close to the emergency and then proceeded to embark on one of the longest nights I've had in a while.

We got to the hospital at 9:45 p.m., probably saw the triage nurse by 10:30 and then waited until 5:45 a.m. to see a doctor. Yes, I understand, my cut was not a life-threatening condition, so I was at the bottom of the priorities. Yes, I was told, the General, Montreal's trauma centre, only had one doctor on staff that night. What I don't understand is why I didn't have more options. Don't we have 24-hour clinics that can handle minor emergencies, hell, even private would have been fine with me? Didn't seem so, although now I'm curious enough to find out for next time.

Spending the night at the emergency, I found myself thinking about how lucky I was. My dad stayed with me (all night), kept me company, and for most of the night, we chatted about this and that. Some people were at the emergency alone. Also, I am so healthy compared to the people I saw in there, I should remember this and not take it for granted.

Here's a picture of the cut, four days later (the bruise is probably from the impact). The stitches come out Thursday.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I gave blood today and feel drained...

Ha ha! Been waiting to make that joke all day!

It has been over two years since my last blood donation. I went three or four times in Vancouver but didn't keep it up. Today, as I was walking back to the office after lunch, I noticed a mobile Hema-Québec clinic in the entrance of PVM. I stopped by the registration table and signed up on the spot for an appointment later that afternoon.

Back at work, I can honestly say that the reaction with colleagues is always predictable. It ranges from "you're doing what?" to slight discomfort to some even feeling slightly noxious as they think about the needle. Nobody jumped up and volunteered to join me. Oh well.

The process of donating blood is pretty much the same between the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec, so I knew the drill. I had eaten a good lunch, drank a large juice before going, but unfortunately, felt a bit dizzy after the half-way mark and wasn't able to complete my donation. The nurses know the drill, as soon as someone mentions that they are not feeling well they unplug you, lower your upper body, place a cold towel on your forehead and then monitor you until they feel you're good to go. I felt better almost immediately, I must have been a bit tired (didn't sleep too well last night) and my temperature was a bit high, so maybe I'm fighting something.

I plan on going back in 56 days, once whatever I donated is fully regenerated by my body. It was so convenient to have the clinic come to work!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Live somewhere else for a few years and then move back, you'll obviously notice differences (big and small) between your home town and adoptive city. I thought the irony of today's weather in Montreal would provide a perfect backdrop to a little discussion about moisture.

Winters in Vancouver are everything but dry. Anything you leave on a balcony (flower pots, BBQ, chairs) ends up as a breeding ground for moss as the city is drenched for weeks at the time in heavy rain. All your shoes end up leaking at one point or another, even your umbrella one day just gives up. But, to be fair, all this moisture in the air keeps the skin naturally soft and hydrated. I always used face moisturizer, but never bothered lathering up from toes to shoulders when I was living on the West Coast.

Let's talk about Montreal now. I can deal with the cold, love the sun and bright winter days, but why is it so dry? I knew something was wrong when my little home thermometer's moisture level indicator did not bother reading the air's water content. "Low" is what it said. My hair became limp and very unruly, all at once. Add a tuque to the equation and you then have to also deal with static. I started using a humidifier, but it's so much work to keep the damn thing clean and I think a spider has moved into mine. I feel I should leave it alone, it must be eating whatever bacteria is growing in the water left in the tank.

My bathroom counter is now host to a collection of moisturizers, body butters, scrubs, leave-in conditioners, baby oil, lip balm, and several other products that promise to keep me from madly scratching my otherwise dry, itchy skin. Fortunately, I have managed to stay away from scented moisturizers, because I would otherwise smell like a mix of strawberries, lavender, ylang-ylang and lemongrass, surely a combination that would keep any potential suitors at bay.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 1

Even though I've been working at the new job for four months now, today felt like the first day where I was doing what it is that we do (or are supposed to do). My first mandate in Halifax wasn't entirely a "typical" mandate and although it kept me busy and had me log a lot of billable hours, it shielded me from some of the regular activities undertaken by my team. How can I explain this... Imagine information as water. Imagine a hose, heavy pressure, wide diametre, being fed by ten or twenty sources. Imagine the pressure at the other end when you are responsible for receiving the rush of water and transforming it in a mist gentle enough (and at the right temperature) to spray a delicate orchid. Repeat daily.

That's how it felt.

The biggest problem when you join a firm in the knowledge industry is that there is a LOT of existing knowledge already developed and the biggest challenge is finding the right pieces to repurpose, reuse, or further develop, and as fast as possible.

To my colleagues, this must feel almost natural but to me, it's as if this was my very first day in the office. Maybe it is.

Tonight, however, I have to admit that I was happy to be home after work and to prepare myself a tasty dinner (I bought some groceries this weekend and cooked a bit). This morning, I loved being able to pick an outfit from my closet and then change my mind about it. Not something you can pull off when living out of a suitcase.

Hello Montreal. I'm happy to be spending some time with you for a little while.