Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Mr. Cranky Rates the Movies : The Hours

I watched "The Hours" last night, one of the many films on a mental list to watch sometime over the holidays. I'll write a review later, but for now I had to pass on a link to Mr. Cranky's review, which seldom fail to crack me up. Since I practically abandoned my Geocities site that had my film reviews on it, I have not been giving Mr. Cranky the exposure he deserves for writing his scathing remarks on cinema.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Good News for Ebi

Eliza called with good news for Ebi, who was examined and found to have no fluid build-up in a week! Needless to say, Eliza was elated!

Science World

I tried to take the kids there on Wed/24th, but they closed early, so I thought today we'd try again.


Michael in the mirror room.

We love Science World. Not just the kids, me too! There are so many activities going on that we can be there for more than four hours and they still want to play. We had a few mishaps, but overall Michael and Maddy were well-behaved. We saw two shows on centre stage: Balloons (which they've seen a couple of times before, but it still holds their fascination), and Illusions, which was late in the afternoon and Michael was ready to nod off from fatigue. I considered taking them home then, because Michael didn't nap in the car, only Maddy, and I knew he would be cranky... but I decided to brave it and take them back up to the second floor to the smaller kids' play area instead. We also saw a "magic" show in the Weyerhaeuser Theatre -- the seasonal theme was "A Magical Christmas" and there were professional magicians from the local chapter of the Society of Magicians performing all over Science World. The show we saw was amusing -- a Hong Kong magician with colourful costume and lots of bright props.


water table

Every time we go to Science World, I notice the kids learning a bit more, experimenting, and making advances. For example, there's a station in the smaller kids' play area that holds circulated water and teaches kids about current. Before, Maddy just played with the boats, but today I showed her how to control the current by moving around the grey wall pieces, and this really held her attention for a long time. She went all around the table, moving pieces and floating boats "downriver."

One of Michael's current favourite stations is the parachute launch...

We miss having Melissa with us, but Science World will still be here when she returns!

Sunday, December 28, 2003

More Eating!

Lunch was at Auntie Crispina's house, and as always there was enough food to sink a ship!

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Boxing Day

Boxing Day at the playground.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Christmas Day

King Dad

Maddy feet

opening the presents

sledding on Mt. Seymour

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas Eve


in Candycane Land with Auntie Susan

More photos here...

candycane land

gingerbread house

Monday, December 22, 2003

Family Day

White Rock

Miss Maddy

The photo on the left is White Rock. Allan took Michael (3) to Hope to visit some friends of theirs who have little boys and like playing with Michael. So I took Maddy (2) and Cheryl, who hadn't left the house in 10 days and was going stir-crazy, out on a Sunday drive. We went to White Rock to look at the ocean, and stopped by an Art Knapp store to buy a Christmas tree. I decided to get them a live one as I prefer the idea of having one live tree to use every year rather than a fake one or a cut tree that gets tossed afterwards.

Maddy and Mom
I also picked up my mother's mail and some stuff from her apartment to take to her at the hospital. While I was at the hospital I also set up a phone account for her so she can make outgoing calls. Maddy was the first of the kids to visit her in the hospital, and was pretty well-behaved the whole time. My mum is in much better shape these days -- she can at least sit in a wheelchair now, and says they are nearly ready to move her out of the orthopedic ward and over to rehab.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Certified Sick but Certified Beautiful

Ebi in recovery
Ebi is one very ill cat. I noticed on Thursday night that he was breathing very, very heavily. Eliza said she'd been observing Ebi, and he'd been doing this for probably a couple of days. So she immediately looked up vet clinics, and took Ebi on Friday morning. That quickly set in motion a chain of events that sent Ebi off to a critical care vet hospital in East Vancouver, where he was looked at by top (also read: expensive) doctors. It was here that he was diagnosed with feline chylothorax:

"Chylothorax is a relatively uncommon disorder in the cat whereby lymph fluid (chyle) accumulates in the pleural cavity. This small cavity lies between the lungs and the inner lining of the chest wall. Normally, only about a teaspoon of clear fluid is present in this space. The purpose of the fluid is to keep the surface of the lungs slippery so that they don’t adhere to the chest wall. When chylothorax is present, up to a quart of fluid may be present."

It explains why Ebi was breathing so heavily. Eliza was completely distraught on Friday, and she went to visit Ebi on Friday night after dinner at the Vancouver Club. She was able to keep Ebi over the weekend before he had to go back to the vet, and I took a few photos of him recuperating from his hospital ordeal. More surgery is in store, so hopefully he can keep his strength up. While he was at the vet, they certified him to be a beautiful cat, which was a compliment to Eliza, since she really takes care of Ebi and Tako. They are her children.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

ERA Christmas Party

massive dining table

King Ross

(L) Our massive medieval-length table in the UBC Room at the Vancouver Club
(R) Ross, after a few drinks, dons the patriarchal crown that comes inside one of those Christmas crackers

Kevin and Lee
Our last company Christmas Party hosted by Ross and Lee was held at the Vancouver Club, one of those posh old-boys-network clubs that are set up around the world to -- basically -- keep out plebs like myself...

That didn't really stop me from eating my weight in food, though. The Christmas buffet at the Vancouver Club is legendary, and there's something surreal about standing in front of a mountain of lobster next to billionnaire Jimmy Pattison. Must be all the wine that flows at these functions. Meanwhile Jane kept pointing out a delectable of the male variety over yon at a faraway table (too bad so far away), which only momentarily distracted me from the scads o' gourmet food...

Allison and John
I wasn't the only person who stuffed myself at the Club -- everyone went for several rounds each. Allison and John ooh'ed and ahh'ed over the scallops sauteed in front of you by chefs, and Michel did of course partake as well. I think at the end of the night we all had to roll away from our mideval-style table.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Shopping With Eliza

Eliza was SO excited -- she'd been waiting for this day for more than five years: we went shopping together!

Thursday, December 18, 2003

The Beautifuls

curls by Conair
The Beautifuls [*see this post for some background info*] -- Sergio, Eliza, Kristin, and myself -- gathered at Eliza's after we ate our fill at Bistro Sakana. There we joined the other Beautifuls -- Eliza's cats Ebi and Tako -- and I proceeded to try out a set of hot rollers I just bought at Shoppers Drug Mart. I haven't bought hair products like this since I was a teenager, but I thought I would try and do something a bit different this year with my hair. Sergio made me do this shameless product promotion! Whaddya think this is, the Price is Right??

Beautiful Ebi

Eliza the pr0n star
Meanwhile, Eliza tried on Kristin's wig and Serg watched TV. A nice relaxing evening with friends...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Time to End the Film-Watching Drought

Saw Les Invasions barbares, or The Barbarian Invasions by Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand. It is apparently a sequel to his 1986 piece, Le Déclin de l'empire américain, or Decline of the American Empire, which I haven't seen but will now.

I wasn't blown away by the film, but its depiction of the last days of a dying man is much more palatable than anything you'll get from Hollywood. I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe darker themes and shocking revelations (a la Celebration), but I certainly wasn't expecting it to be as funny as it was... the son, played by Stéphane Rousseau, reminded me so much of Guy Pierce. I was surprised to see Mitsou Gélinas in it, too -- remember her piece of fluff pop song "Bye Bye Mon Cowboy" from the 80's??? Unless you're Canadian and at least in your late 20's, you won't have a clue who I'm talking about.

My favourite character in Invasions was easily Marie-Josée Croze, who won a Best Actress Award at Cannes for her portrayal of the junkie daughter of one of Remy's mistresses. Marie-Josée Croze left an imprint on me as the main character in the 2000 film Maelström.

Day of the Cursed Speech

Talk about an exercise in frustration. It was as if all the technical glitches at work started at the stroke of midnight, as the weekend morphed into the week again! Isn't there a Murphy's Law for that??

Monday, December 15, 2003

Sunday: No Rest for the Wicked

Look what Sergio made us for Christmas! Matching "Suck Me Beautiful" T-shirts!

OK, I really should explain the story behind this... it goes back exactly four years, when Sergio was still living in Vancouver and working at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel front desk. It was Saturday afternoon, and Sergio had four hours off, so he booked one of the hotel rooms and invited Eliza and me over for a matinee and some afternoon imbibing, since there were leftovers from a Christmas party in the hotel. (I dug up the photo from that afternoon's silliness.)

Sergio thought he'd requested the film American Beauty in the hotel room, but instead we ended up with American Pie. If you've either seen or even heard of them, you'll know they are completely different movies!! We ended up watching all of American Pie because it was so over-the-top dumb, and there was one line in it that really cracked us up: Chris Klein wooing college girl Tara Reid with the fine line, "Suck me, beautiful...", to which she bursts out laughing. Anyway, that line stuck with us and became our regular greeting to each other, which got us a lot of weird looks as you can imagine.

Fast forward a few months to March 2000 in Portland. Sergio, Eliza and I drove down there one crazy weekend, and on the way to the airport we'd picked up this guy who was sitting on a bench at the bus stop with a snowboard. I was driving my Volvo wagon, so we offered him a lift to the train station. He got in, thanked us, and said, "Hey, you guys are beautiful!" To which we turned and looked at each other, and said, "We know..." Maybe someone even said, "How did you guess?" -- he must've thought we were all either extremely egotistical or just weird.

Fast forward again a few months to the summer of 2000. I was walking north on Burrard Street towards Robson, and on the sidewalk in front of the Sutton Place Hotel was Chris Klein, signing autographs! I thought, "What a coincidence! Here's the original 'Suck Me Beautiful' guy!" I was really tempted to speak to him, but what to say? "Oh, I thought I'd introduce myself to you since you started something that is now out of control"?? So, while I was considering what to do, I walked behind him as he walked to the corner of Burrard and Robson. The light was changing, and I was only a few inches away from him... hmmmm.... we crossed Burrard and it occurred to me that he must be SO SICK of that whole "Suck Me Beautiful" thing... after all, he didn't write it, he just uttered it in a movie. So what did I do? I just called Eliza to tell her that I was a couple of inches away from Mr. Suck Me Beautiful himself, and I didn't say it!! Eliza, who was in IKEA with her aunt, couldn't believe it!

So, anyway, that's the story behind the t-shirts. Not exactly a short tale, but a real conversation-starter, that's for sure. Serg, who is in town visiting from Ottawa for Christmas, presented us with the t-shirts as we were having dim sum at Kirin in City Square, and people gave us odd looks as we held up our t-shirts for the photo-op.

Vancouver Aquarium

After dim sum, Sergio and I went to the Vancouver Aquarium to find Nemo. Or at least Allan, Michael and Madeleine. I was surprised to find out it was Sergio's first time to the Aquarium!

Nemo? Posted by Hello

We did find Nemo, as you can see. I haven't seen the film, but Alvin bought it for the kids, so they've seen it a thousand times already and I can watch it with them whenever. At the Aquarium they had clownfish in the kids' area and did little educational puppet shows and such, which Michael had plenty of attention span for, but not Maddy. Allan had to run around after her, while Michael was enraptured.

View Photos

Sergio and I were supposed to meet Eliza and Kristin at Bistro Sakana, but it was closed, so we ended up at Samurai instead. There, we met up with Matt, a Global Freeloader from Australia who got in touch with me months ago to mention that he would be in Vancouver to attend his best mate's wedding up at Whistler. He was spending a few months in the area, so I suggested that we meet up first and see how things go. I think he got more than he bargained for in meeting the three of us instead of just me! We headed over to my place so he could check things out himself, and Eliza could get some ferry tickets and sign the company Christmas cards. On the way back up the hill on Thurlow Street, we saw something rather bizarre in a window of a condo:

Wha? Posted by Hello

This looks, yes, like a mannequin with a sort of Santa suit! That, with the flamingoes in the foreground, made for an odd photo.

(L) This martini is called "Curious George" and of course has creme des bananes in it.
(R) Matt and Sergio looking romantic! Ha!

It's Matt's first week in Vancouver -- his first week ever outside of his own country -- and he's already got a ton of stories about things that have happened to him! He's staying with a guy on Nicola Street who just happens to know everyone in the entire city, so that has a lot to do with it. Matt never had a martini before, so when we were informed that on Sunday at Jupiters all martinis were $5, we were like kids in the candy shop.

Needless to say, a late night for Sergio and me...

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Saturday: Trying to Wind Down

Woke up looking like hell [must've been the combination of red wine, copious amounts of Ghirardelli chocolate, then a bag of salt and vinegar Ruffles potato chips], but otherwise a pleasant day... I think it was the chips that took us over the edge. We're getting old! ha!

Finally saw the Billy Wilder movie The Apartment (1960) on DVD with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Hilarious. Wish movies were more like this nowadays. Jack Lemmon's great, I was quite sad when he passed, also Walter Matthau.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Friday: The End of a Mind-Bender of a Week

Tough, tough day at the hospital. I won't even get into it here... every time I try to describe the afternoon, I get worked up.

he's trying to psyche me out

"I beat Gail! I beat Gail!"

Then I got beaten at Scrabble by Adrian! It took him more than a year and a half, but he finally did it. He didn't do a "happy dance" (as he calls it), but he did ring a friend at 2 o'clock in the morning when we finished our Scrabble game, to spread the news that he did actually beat me. 6 measly points! But Adrian was ahead the whole game from the first word, so if I'd pulled past him with his victory in sight, he would've been pretty choked... I don't know when the "rematch" will be, since he moved to Toronto a few months ago, and visits back here are short.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Exams are Over!


Felt totally inhuman yesterday. Too many all-nighters. I'm over 30 now, so maybe I shouldn't be expecting my body to handle this kind of schedule without a lot of resistance. [It's not like I'm trying to make some kind of Guinness World Book record... I'm not doing this because I want to!] Fell asleep on the floor last night trying to speed-read. But, I managed to write the psych exam yesterday along with Kinesiology students at noon, got it over with, and felt some relief riding home.

Got call from Cheryl that her appointment at BC Women's was finished, so I phoned CAN while I was on transit to see if I could locate a car anywhere close by. It was already 3pm, and rush hour traffic had begun. Cars available for the rest of the evening were hard to come by, but the guy did manage to find a brand-new car at Cambie & 17th, not too far away from BC Women's Hospital, so I got off the bus to see if I could catch a Cambie Street bus...

Eliza phoned me at the same time to mention the BC Ferries were on full (illegal) strike, because we were supposed to go to the office today. Fortunately (for me) the strike was on, so I didn't have to go in. Eliza was near downtown, so she kindly gave me a lift to the CAN car, and I hopped in and drove to the hospital to pick up Cheryl, who accompanied me to Surrey Memorial Hospital to see my mum. She was heavily sedated, but I tried to impress upon her how important this meeting is with the lawyer tomorrow.

After taking Cheryl home, Allan arrived soon after, so we fed the kids and I sent them off for a quick errand while I bathed the kiddies. This girl named Tammy showed up at the door, and I very nearly didn't recognize her... we went to the same high school. Apparently she's helping them do laundry... I invited her to stick around until they came back. Told her the good news -- that Cheryl had a very positive set of results from the ultrasound, and if her appointment on Dec 24 goes well, she won't have to be admitted to hospital until maybe January. Which is great news since being confined to hospital in Vancouver meant she wouldn't be able to see Allan or the kids until the weekends. The only person living anywhere near BC Women's Hospital is me, and I told Cheryl she would be totally sick of seeing me after the first month!

Both babies are alive and growing, and exceeding the expectations of the doctors at BCWH. The twins are already named: Meagan Joy and Maribeth (Mary-Beth?) Jolie. This is in keeping with the initials of the other three kids: Melissa Jean, Michael James, and Madeleine Jane. [Eliza thinks since I'm the hands-on auntie that I should have a namesake, too! I told her my chances would be better if my name started with the letter M.]


Today I spoke to another lawyer (a longtime friend of my "new cousin-in-law" Mike) who gave me some free counsel on my current situation. I was, just before, speaking to the lawyer I retained on my mother's behalf, and he'd asked me to contact the ICBC rep who told me about the witnesses... at that time, I'd only been able to leave a voicemail, but she did phone back this afternoon, and we had a lengthy conversation... there was no tone of hostility, and I never mentioned lawyers or gave her the impression anyone but myself was dealing with the claim, but I did ask her a lot of questions to which she was reticent to answer. I figured that might happen. The Insurance Corporation of BC is, at bottom, an insurance company whose mandate is NOT to pay you unless they absolutely have to. My lawyer says he's been working on ICBC cases for 20 years, and I could tell from the tone in his voice how he felt about them.

This is all getting increasingly complicated, and from time to time I feel like I'm getting in over my head. But as they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger... it's been a rather steep learning curve, since I've never been injured or in a collision with another car (I've only hit deer and barriers on the I-5 during snowstorms!), so my knowledge of hospitals and lawyers and government benefits and insurance companies and other red-tape systems has suddenly climbed exponentially. If I ever get into an accident, I will be MUCH more prepared than I was before I embarked on any of this.

A little advice for anyone reading this post:

Make sure you fill out the Emergency Contacts section of your daytimer or anything else you carry around with you. If you live alone, this is especially important (yeah, this includes me), and it shouldn't be a person who is likely to be in a vehicle with you... No one will know you've been in accident until you are missed from work or an appointment. If it's the weekend, it may be a long time before your situation is made known to the people important to you.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Sometimes Things Get Worse Before They Get Better

Or, at least that's what I'm telling myself right now. Wrote another exam today, and was pressed for time as I was so busy studying on the Skytrain that I missed my connecting station and ended up going all the way around the Millennium Line Loop to SFU via Coquitlam. I wrote my CMS exam along with SA316, and the exam supervisor told me I couldn't have the full two hours. I was speedwriting.

Got home and was feeling a bit better as the law firm called to say that they would like to schedule a meeting for Friday. I have to meet them at the hospital at 2pm. Moments later I got a call from ICBC, saying that they have two witnesses who report that my mother ran the red light. I'm still in a bit of shock right now. This changes everything.

I am just inches away from buying a plane ticket to some unknown destination right now... I want to boycott Christmas altogether... if even the tacky ubiquitous Christmas muzak can't make me feel like it's the Christmas season, I might as well be somewhere else with Buddhists and other non-believers.

One Exam Down, Two to Go

Pulled another all-nighter -- surprise surprise -- and wrote the Sociology exam this morning. Had an hour's kip before fetching the co-op car at 7:30am. This is my fourth co-op vehicle and so far it's my favourite: 2003 Toyota Hybrid Prius. It's a bit different to drive, but not in a bad way, just a little different from driving a regular car. The best thing about it is that when it's running on electricity, which it does around the city and up hills, it's totally quiet. I love it. The only thing, you have to make sure the pedestrians know you're there, because they can't hear the engine.

After the exam, I picked up voicemail and returned a call from the law firm I contacted on Saturday. I told Kirk I would fax him details about the accident and any pertinent information, so I should hear back from him tomorrow. I feel ready to hand over the whole situation to a lawyer, I've done all that I can do.

Dating Guide

Who wrote this???

Dating Guide

Does anyone recognize this to be true??

Here's what it says about me:

Gemini Dating Guide

Here are some things you can do with Gemini to ensure a successful date. Go to a book or poetry reading in a cafe or bookstore, attend a party together, go for a picnic, play a game, go dancing, spend the day at the zoo, go hang-gliding, go hot air ballooning, go to a drive-in movie, take a trip to Las Vegas, go to a science museum, go to a cafe or bar for a drink, take a yoga class together, go for a walk at midnight together, take a helicopter tour, fly a kite together, go to an air show

You & Your Gemini


Enjoy the game of flirting with your Twins. Be flexible and open -- your Gemini will want to play, and you may not be the only partner. Be elusive, seductive and always slightly out of reach. A Gemini enjoys a chase. Be well-read, well-informed and a very good listener. Be talkative -- your Twins will engage you in hours of fascinating and entertaining conversation. Use your mind, as well as your body, to make love. A Gemini will respond the strongest to a partner who stimulates their mind. Always give Gemini the freedom that they need. They will broaden your horizons and teach you how to thoroughly appreciate everything life has to offer. Keep up -- if you bore your Gemini, they will be gone faster than you can blink.


Never tell your Gemini to stop flirting. Gemini is a natural social butterfly, and won't understand why you want to repress their instinct. Try not to be a bad conversationalist or a bad audience. Gemini becomes bored easily, and may not want to save the conversation for another time. Don't question everything that's going on in your Gemini's mind. They will not appreciate an intrusion into their complex and convoluted thought process. Avoid being too traditional -- if you want to spend every hour in bed, you may have to get used to some unexpected behavior. Don't act too surprised -- they may bring a Scrabble board, some crackers and cheese, and a novel into bed with the two of you. Try not to tie down or hold back a Gemini. They will slip through your fingers like quicksilver.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Supercram Sunday

Sociology exam is looming. Had to book a co-op car as Cheryl phoned a while ago to report the transmission on their van had died. I'll take my car over there later tonight. [Can things get worse? Yes they can. But let's not tempt fate!] Tosca kindly agreed to watch a couple of psychology videos for me and take notes, but she was even kinder to bring by a lunch for me!

Finally got the keys to my mother's apartment. Picked up mail, papers, cleaned out fridge, forwarded phone, etc etc etc. Phoned a lawyer's office yesterday, thanks to Nancy. I'm very ready to let someone else take some of this burden off me, but have been slow to phone a lawyer because it's been a bit of mental struggle to give a stranger full control of my mother's welfare. Now I feel I've got a handle on the situation and am ready to let go.

Back to the cramming...

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Gearing Up for Today

Had lots of sleep last night, so am feeling much better for it today. I should stop pulling the all-nighters -- as was pointed out to me last night, it's a case of diminishing returns.

Today I have a list of things to do, and studying is one of them. I have a Sociology exam at 8:30 on Monday morning! Yikes!

I'm off to start that list now, which includes a fair amount of driving. [Cheryl, don't worry about me driving -- I've had lots of sleep, and I'm not as tense as last week.]

Friday, December 05, 2003

Is It Really Friday??

Night slipped into day as I tried to clear up the aftermath of the maelstrom that was this week. It's nearly 9 o'clock and I just finished doing my laundry. May was parking in my spot as per usual and we had a brief conversation over the balcony, arranging to meet for lunch. I've been clearing up the apartment and trying to sort the mounds of paper and various accumulated objects before the cleaning ladies come sometime this afternoon. My mother's things in her car and the clothes she was wearing the night of the accident have been strewn all over the floor as I combed it all to look for keys and pieces of paper that are meaningful to her life.

I think Marcia thinks I'm a bit crazy as I always try to tidy up before she gets here. She figures that's her job, but because my apartment is so small, a few pieces of paper makes a big difference when you have to go around it...

After the all-night cleanup, I'm feeling more organized than I have been in a while due to a serious lack of time. Sleep has been the sacrificial lamb at the altar of sanity since I can't seem to make time in other areas. I think people are worried about me. One colleague at the office mentioned they sent me something yesterday, but she didn't say what it was. I'm a bit worried about myself. I feel tense while driving, not just because I've been in a number of accidents -- a couple of them serious -- and walked away while other people were injured, but because I keeping thinking my mind isn't always on the road or other drivers. Or, as in the case the other night, I'm just plain wiped out and shouldn't be driving. Normally I would just take the Skytrain, but I have stuff with me, and the hospital isn't that close to the Skytrain station.

While I was at the hospital last night, I told my mother that I couldn't get a key for her apartment because the building manager refuses to even accept a signed note! She wants to hear my mother's voice to be sure... ICBC accepted my birth certificate, so why shouldn't she?? Anyway, that plus some other things yesterday have been an exercise in frustration -- hell, a total workout -- but I was determined to get a key. So, while the nurses were out of the room, I whipped out the contraband -- my mobile phone -- and phoned my mother's building manager, then put my mother on the phone. It's a good thing the other patients in the room were either not paying attention or just didn't care. The building manager finally conceded to cutting me some keys, which I will pick up on Saturday.... FINALLY! One small victory...

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Full Night's Sleep

Last night I had a completely unintended full night's sleep for the first time in more than one week, and I feel so much better. Got home from the hospital late and had every intention to tackle some of the workload that's been piling up in front of the computer, but basically passed out... driving every day out to Surrey and back is not my idea of fun. I should be studying or working, but I can't. I also can't complain to my mother, who is the one in pain, while I'm just frustrated. Somebody give me some meds for that!

The doctor took off my mother's neck brace last night, so it looks like the spinal tests from VGH were returned negative for damage. She has blisters from wearing a neck brace since Sunday night. She's in a reclining position, and in better spirits, so I was able to explain what arrangements I've made thus far and the ICBC paperwork I brought with me for her to sign. They're release forms to allow the insurance company to access her medical and employment records.

Today I phone the orthopedic surgeon, the ICBC adjuster, and her insurance company to try to find out what her extended benefits include. I got my dad to go to the towing company yesterday to see if he could find her keys and retrieve anything else from the car. No keys. He says the car is completely totalled -- it's no wonder she has a shattered pelvis. I think seeing the state of the car shocked him, and what he was really thinking was, "she's lucky to be alive."

I can't get into her apartment. I can't find her glasses, either. She's had some visitors the past couple of days while she's been at Surrey Memorial, which helps me because they can hold her hand and be there for her emotionally. I'll stick to asking her questions, speaking to nurses and doctors and filling in forms.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Taking It Day by Day

Thanks to all who send their wishes for a speedy recovery for my mother. She finally has a hospital bed at Surrey Memorial and is no longer confined to a stretcher in an emergency ward hallway.

Personnel at SFU and my colleagues have been very understanding and I am grateful for that. I'm still dreading the finals postponed until Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Still have a gazillion phone calls to make, but trying to chip away at my office work first.

I am hoping Cheryl's pregnancy continues to go well. She is currently on full bedrest and will be admitted to BC Women's Hospital full-time sometime between Christmas and New Year for the remainder of the pregnancy (mid-March, if all goes well). Michael and Maddy are in daycare, Melissa is now in Maine, and Allan's been transferred out of support and into a technical writing position.

As 2003 winds to a close, I hope we can all just hang in there...

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Hell is... the Hospital

I have spent the last 24 hours trying to make arrangements for my mother, who was in a major auto accident Sunday night and admitted first to Surrey Memorial and then to VGH. Her injuries are serious but thankfully not life-threatening.

I've dealt with hospitals, doctors, nurses, police, towing, ICBC, my mother's workplace, her building manager, phoned her friends, her old co-workers, my office, then SFU to try to get extensions on papers and my final exams this week. Multiple phone calls for all, and enough voicemail to last me a lifetime. The prize for the worst runaround goes to the hospital system, but ICBC has been a monumental pain in the ass, too. I've been on the phone and put on hold so many times in the past day both my mobile phone and my cordless phone batteries both nearly ran out. I still don't know the exact details of the accident (all roads lead to the ICBC adjuster), and my mother still hasn't been assigned an orthopedic surgeon. She's been seen by specialists, but no one person is responsible for her welfare until she gets a bed. It's taken her nearly 24 hours to do so – she's been shunted back and forth between the emergency rooms of both Surrey Memorial and Vancouver General Hospital and ran the gamut of examinations. She's not even finished yet!

Here's the outline of what I've been able to piece together:

1) shortly after 10pm on Sunday night, my mother entered an intersection after the light changed to green and took a direct hit to the driver's side by a 27-year old male in a 2004 Toyota sedan

2) after a preliminary examination at Surrey Memorial, it was found that her pelvis sustained multiple fractures, there was some internal bleeding, and there was potential spinal injury -- they decided she needed to be seen by specialists in Vancouver

3) at around 2:45am, she was sent to VGH, and I received the phone call shortly after she was admitted

4) once arriving at the hospital, I was told to wait while tests were being run by the trauma team; when I was finally able to see her around 6am, she was on morphine, but I managed to get a brief description of the accident, a few phone numbers, and she told me that she left an electric aromatherapy candle burning on her counter! (I had to wake up the building manager to go into her apartment to make sure it wasn't on fire!)

Once I spoke to the trauma doctors and had more information about her condition, I had to make the aforementioned flurry of phone calls. It's just been non-stop ever since.

I will get a phone call from the insurance adjuster tomorrow, and find out the information I need to move forward re: insurance, fault, how much compensation I can seek on my mother's behalf, etc. etc. etc. I'm probably going to have to find a lawyer. I'm in the process for arranging for homecare once she is released from the hospital *whenever that is*, but what I am dreading something sooner than that: having to write three exams in a row starting on Monday. SFU agreed to postpone my two exams this week, and my CMS tutor marker has given me an extension on my paper. Which is louder – the exhale of relief or the muttering under my breath of "oh shit..." ?

Right now my mother is back at Surrey Memorial Hospital, but I was at the hospital for hours before the actual transfer took place. You see lots of people running around in the ER, but you could lie dying on the floor and nobody would notice. It's like a special type of chaos. There's all kinds of conflicting information, and I've lost track of all the doctors' names. I've got numbers scribbled on Post-It notes for case numbers, claim numbers, phone numbers, fax numbers, and names that are somehow connected. I know I'll be able to put it all together, but I think I need some sleep first. After a night in an emergency waiting room, staying awake on vending machine coffee, then making arrangements all day, a couple of hours of sleep between phone calls before going back to the hospital... all I can say is, God help me if I should ever end up in a hospital. I'd still rather be doing what I'm doing than lying on a spineboard with an immobilizing collar, my pelvis shattered, a hole in my bladder, hooked up to a catheter totally dehydrated and wondering what is going to happen to me.