2020 week thirty six

Stuff Read
27. Hostage – Guy Delisle
Fat Shaming Shouldn’t Be Part of Our “New Normal” – Erica Thorkelson (The Walrus)

2020 Running to Date
1,905.5 KM

2020 Cycling to Date
1,805.6 KM

Days Without Strava Activity: 31

I used to write these on Sunday but it’s been Monday for a month so I guess Wednesday is fine. Stephanie picked up this Drawn and Quarterly graphic novel for me because she’s shares my appreciation for dry wit. It tells the true story of Christophe André who was kidnapped in 1997 while working in Chechnya for Doctors Without Boarders. It follows André for nearly 500 pages of him not much else than chained to a radiator. And yet, it is a very compelling story. I was engrossed from start to finish. I heard Erica Thorkelson talk about this piece she wrote for The Walrus on CBC Early Edition with Stephen Quinn the other morning and it was good so I figured I should give it a read and it is very good. It opens with some fit shaming that is an unfortunate distraction from the rest of the piece, which has really important things to say about fatphobia and especially how fat bodies are treated (abhorrently) by the medical profession in particular, as well as by society in general. Thorkelson draws on her personal relationship to weight and her body, and her decision to stop weighing herself. She encourages her readers to do the same. I don’t share her position – I weigh myself frequently – but I understand why she has chosen not to and I think she makes a good case. Her personal, authentic experience is not up for debate. The piece is frank and honest. I think everyone should read it.

Brian Jungen’s Cetology (2002) installation at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I took a bunch of pain medication and went to see it on its final day Sunday. The room made it impossible to get a full shot without a fish-eye lens. This photo has nothing to do with any of this. I just love this piece of art and I’m very happy I finally got to see it in person. Cetology is one of three whale skeletons made of resin lawn chairs. The first, Shapeshifter (2000), is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

I’m thankful every damn day that I live in Canada and don’t have to deal with an American style healthcare system, but that doesn’t mean that it is without some significant problems. Thorkelson talks about some of them in her piece, and I told a story last post here about my adventures in pain management. Another frustration I’ve had is the fact that soon after my crash it became rather apparent that I’d suffered a head injury that has been acknowledged while in hospital but otherwise shrugged off. I’ve since determined that what probably happened is the load of lumber that struck me hit my head just under my helmet. It was Stephanie who first noticed the lump on my head on my right just above my ear. My lawyer has since confirmed that, through witness accounts, I most certainly lost consciousness. I was sure that I hadn’t, but my injuries and memory tell another story. It’s pretty clear from my knees, hands, shoulder and side (not to mention my helmet, sunglasses and cycling kit) that I got a good slide on the asphalt after I hit the ground. I remember going down, but I have no recollection of the slide. I have consistently raised alarm that I have an acknowledged yet untreated head injury. My file was handed from Lions Gate to VGH Trauma, which meant weekly xrays of my punctured lung followed by telephone consultations with the trauma doctor. The lung was their primary concern, but I at least got them to put a referral into the concussion centre. This was followed finally by a call from GF Strong who first needed to know if this was a WorkSafeBC or ICBC claim. I handled that question like a champ who has ten fractured bones and on a powerful narcotic pain medicine that does an okay but not excellent job, and comes with a plethora of side effects that include constipation, nausea and irritability: “I was hit by a negligent driver while cycling, so I guess it’s ICBC but frankly I don’t fucking care who’s paying; I just want someone to treat my head injury.” GF Strong replied that they’d get back to me. Next call with the trauma doctor and I tell her about my call with GF Strong, including my vocalized frustration and that I haven’t heard from them since and they say they will follow up. Soon after I get a follow up call from GF Strong, and the person on the line regales me with a long list of resources that are available to me because my injury is an ICBC claim, but in fact since XX date (they tell me the date, but I don’t remember) the Vancouver Coastal Health concussion centre at GF Strong is no longer able(?) allowed(?) to provide concussion treatment to ICBC claimants. So, long (boring, sorry) story short, I’m struggling to get treatment for my head injury, and the trauma doctor refers me to the one place in VCH that cannot or will not treat someone with an ICBC claim.

The following day I’m in physiotherapy and I tell this story to my physiotherapist and she is great, and books me an appointment to see someone in her office who has a specialty in treating concussions. I go for the consultation and it is exactly four weeks since my crash. I’m feeling good, head-wise, maybe even a bit cocky like I’m wasting their time. We run though the story and some questions and then she puts me through some eye tests and they’re fine but one gets me a bit scrambled but I don’t think much of it and we finish the tests and they’re talking and I can’t explain what happens but I just tell them to stop talking and I have a cold sweat and the worst nausea and I ask for a cup of water and say I’m not doing well. They bring me water and a pillow and turn out the light and I manage to pull it together a bit but I’m wrecked. They tell me it’s normal. They tell me that it’s going to be okay and they can fix it, that they can help me get better. I’m wrecked for the next 24 hours from trying to follow an X on a pencil with my eyes. And I’m mad. I’m mad that this fucking guy did this to me and I’m mad that I’m broken and I’ve been asking for help for a month and getting incompetence in return. I’m fucking mad. I’m confident that I’m going to get better and I’m happy that I’ve finally found help but I’m just mad that it happened and I’m mad that it was left up to me to figure out how to get the help I need. I’m going back tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “2020 week thirty six”

  1. Todd, it’s okay to be mad. Really, really ok. I’m glad your wife can help you through this process and advocate for you. Stay strong and keep getting better. Best wishes.

  2. Your experiences with both the accident and its aftermath leave me gutted every time I read about them. I’m so sorry you’re going through this and I truly wish you all the best. If there’s anything I can do—I mean, I’m a writer, I can’t do much other than send you a book, though I do have some health care connections—please let me know.

  3. “Her personal, authentic experience is not up for debate.” – Thank you for acknowledging that, and that you can disagree with something a person has expressed while still honouring their experiences that lead to their opinion.

    I am so angry you are dealing with a medical profession that looks for the easy answers and is too short sighted to ask ALL the questions to get you healthy. WHY did no one consider there was a head injury?

  4. Concussions suck. I had a beauty years ago. Fortunately, I didn’t have to convince anyone I had one… it was my only symptom after being driven into end boards by someone who was pissed I beat him to a lump of rubber. I couldn’t read for two weeks or look at a screen for three. It can take some time. There is a good bit of literature on concussions available now, but as far as recovery, it all seems to point to time and lessening of symptoms. Be pissed but try to be patient with your body. Keep taking care, Todd.

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