Monday, November 1, 2010

The Charlie Sheen of Eating

Right now, Red Cross helicopters are probably circling the Greater Champaign-Urbana area dropping food rations to desperate undergrads. The reason: Hurricane Arley blew into town for a few days and while I was there, I ate everything in a 30-mile radius. Like, literally everything. Even things that were only borderline edible; (I'm looking at you, three-year-old candy corn!)

Over the weekend, I went on a 36-hour food bender, terrifying the locals and cutting a swath of destruction that can probably be seen from outerspace. Here is a tally of some of the damage:
  • Double-stuffed Oreos for breakfast! For breakfast! Instead of actual food!
  • Delicious Black Dog beef brisket with fries!
  • Marshmallows the size of a baby's head courtesy of my awesome friend Karo!
  • Candy corn and various other holiday-themed morsels of corn-syrup-and-food-colouring-based goodness!
  • Pumpkin-spice frozen yogurt with graham cracker crumbs (for a pumpkin pie-like mouth feel, because I am a Michelin-starred chef when it comes to fro-yo sundae construction) and yogurt chips (for crunch and because I freaking love yogurt chips even though I'm 95% sure they are made entirely of wax)!
  • Jimmy John's sandwiches at 3 a.m.! Freaky fast, freaky nostalgia-inducing!
  • Erin McQ's delicious chicken pot pie and apple pie. The vegetables cancel out the pie crust and make it nutritious!
  • A tailgating breakfast consisting of bacon-and-egg tortillas and mini cupcakes!
  • My weight's worth of fun-sized Halloween candy. Fun fact: American "fun sized" chocolate bars are twice as large as Canadian "fun sized" chocolate bars. End result: double the fun. Also: double the diabetes!
I am like the Charlie Sheen of eating, (well, except for the hooker locked in the bathroom part). The end result of this Bender of Deliciousness: I will be making a much bigger splash into the deep water aerobics pool than usual. Watch out, elderly ladies! I've picked up a little more gravity since the last time we met, but it won't slow me down.

As you can tell from the excessive use of exclamation points in this post, I am still coming down off a sugar high. I am also coming down off the high of being around people who enjoy my company despite knowing full well what a ridiculous human being I can be. It's not that I don't have friends in Vancouver. I do. There is, however, a difference between having a handful of friends (even if they are good friends!) and having an actual social life. I miss the Wednesday-night Project Runway "reading group" and random dinner-and-DVD nights and going to concerts with more than one person and sitting at a bar/restaurant with a full table of people whose company you enjoy on a regular basis and just walking into a room where a few dozen people say, "Hey, Arley!" as opposed to giving me Vancouver hipster side eye.

Okay, enough with the emo-ness. One of these days I will figure out the answer to the question of how someone meets people without the built-in friend machine known as school/ wheelchair basketball. Until then, however, I have recharged my social-skill batteries by seeing dozens of awesome people in a very short amount of time with very little sleep. Thanks to everyone who hung out with me/ ate or drank with me/ drove me to the airport despite the fact that Indianapolis is apparently changing its entire highway infrastructure at once.

My little weekend jaunt was also a good lesson in how to travel post-hip-replacement. The day I flew to Champaign, the TSA had instituted a brand new pat-down policy, which is just like the old pat-down policy but with 75% more groping. Usually, airport security patdowns go something like this:

Security guard: Can you empty out your pocket?
Me: There's nothing in my pocket. My hip replacement is setting off your metal detector.
Security guard: You're awfully young to have a hip replacement.
Me: Yes, yes I am.
Security guard: My grandma had a hip replacement a few years ago. She just loves it! She went skiing in Aspen! Now, I am just going to check in your pocket.
Me: Okay, but you've already checked there and it's just the metal of my hip replacement.
Security guard: What about your back pocket? There seems to be something in this back pocket. Perhaps you have some coins in there that you forgot to empty out.
Me: Do you not understand that someone chopped off the ball of my femoral head, sanded away my socket and replaced both with medical-grade cobalt chrome, and that these devices are implanted under my skin roughly equidistance between both my front and back pockets and are therefore setting off the metal detector wand in both places?
Security guard: I am not a doctor and therefore am not required as part of my job training to use common sense. Is there a reason why the area around your left hip is hot?
Me: Yes. I have a very small nuclear rector stored under my skin making tiny, tiny doses of plutonium. No, actually it's this thing called inflammation. Because. I. Had. A. Hip. Replacement.

Now, however, the conversations are a little different:

Security guard: Let me guess: you tore your ACL playing volleyball.
Me: No, I had a hip replacement.
Security guard: Oh. I guess that's better than a torn ACL. I heard they really hurt!
Me: ....
Security guard: *looking awkward* So, I just have to let you know that they brought in a new protocol for security pat-downs effective today.
Me: Oh yeah...
Security guard: *while awkwardly snapping on rubber gloves and avoiding my gaze* Yes, I am required by these new protocols to notify you in advance of some of the changes. For example, I will be placing one hand on your inner thigh and one hand on the outside of your hip and pressing inwards until I feel firm resistance. I am also required to check the waistband of your pants. I must also inform you that when I am inspecting a sensitive area, I will be using the back of my hand.
Me: Are you required by these new protocols to buy me a drink first? Or maybe meet my parents? Because I feel that this relationship is going really fast.
Security guard: ..... ha...ha...
Me: .....
Security guard: These new protocols are designed to make all Americans safer.

So, you're welcome Americans! In the interest of public safety, I allowed some chick to run her hands along my inner thigh not once, but twice. I also let her run the back of my hand under my boobs, which apparently is not harassment since she used the back of her hand and not the front.

You know that the new regulations are invasive when the security personnel, who are often made up of people who get pleasure out of being the worst part of someone's day, are made uncomfortable by it. I guess, however, that they probably have it worse off than I do, since can you imagine trying to find "firm resistance" on the inner thigh of a 90-year-old man? How would you know which was wrinkly old man thigh flesh and which was wrinkly old man ball sack?! (Too far? Too far).

This, however, has given me a really great new pickup line. One of these days, I am going to go up to some guy and put the back of my hand on his crotch, then say, "It's not sexual harassment! I used the back of my hand! Homeland security demands it!" I'm groping for America.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Snakes on a Cane - The Highly Anticipated Sequel

For the past six months, I have been in the market for a new cane. Before my most recent surgery, I didn't want to get a new one, even though mine makes an ungodly clinking noise when I walk and the handle is falling apart faster than my plans for a more robust dating life. I figured that if my gluteus medius got fixed, I eventually would be able to walk unaided and I should save my money for dealing with Vancouver beer prices ($4.50 for a warm PBR! Seriously, people!). But since the reattachment didn't work and I'm still legitimately half-assed, it looks like the cane will be my permanent +1. It's time to upgrade to a better model. Or at least a model that doesn't leave little gummy bits of handle rubber on my palms that resemble snot. (I know. So sexy).

I've been down the cane-buying road before: the cat-themed canes; the sword canes (I can barely manage to not kill people with my regular cane. Lord help us all if I ever get one with a lethal weapon inside); the canes with a silver skull on the handle (unless it shoots lasers from the eyes, not interested); the ones made of lucite or topped with a wolf/eagle/dragon/mudflap girl/dolphin. Seriously, I like dolphins and all, but who likes dolphins enough to put up with brass dorsal fin sticking into your palm every time you try to walk? And also, someone needs to put a disclaimer on those canes that have the mudflap girl on them that if you use one, that's going to be the only naked girl riding on your shaft for the rest of your life. (Too far? Too far.)

No, I attract enough attention walking down the street as it is. What I need is a cane that blends into the background, like some kind of a secret service agent. A cane that says, "I have a permanent disability, so stop asking me if I've sprained my ankle because if I hear the phrase 'Gosh, what did you do to yourself?' one more time I am going to shank someone" while also saying "Oh, and by the way, I'm not 90 years old and can still bring the hotness." A cane that does its job as a mobility aid but doesn't look like a lifestyle choice.

You'd think this would be easy: go online, find a cane that's tall enough and unobtrusive, purchase it and have it arrive to my door thanks to the power of the internets. No. Incorrect. For one, the website design of most online cane stores looks fresh from a Geocities fan page circa 1996 and it's nearly impossible to navigate any of them. Plus, just out of principle, I'm not buying anything from a store that has a GIF of a snowman dancing along the screen or that claims to be marketing its products to the "enfeebled."

The second problem, however, is that I've discovered that most canes have names more suited to sex toys and I cannot take them seriously. Here are some examples:
  • The Black Mamba
  • The Tuxedo Night Stick
  • The Blackthorn Premium Knob
  • Mylord With Grapes
  • The Magician's Wand
  • The Regency Scrimshaw Bulb
  • The Lady Blowing Horn
  • The Alpaca Horn of Plenty
  • The Burgandy StripTease (not even kidding)
  • The Powder Pink Soft Touch
I'm sorry, but do I want some delivery person coming to my house and asking my mom if she'll sign for a Power Pink Soft Touch with adjustable shaft? No. No I do not. It's not happening. Alas, I have a feeling that the Great Cane Hunt of 2010 is going to last longer than SurgeonWatch 2009. The excitement around here really never ceases.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ass Lasers to the Rescue!

If you look at my calendar, you'll see October 20th circled and surrounded by stars, hearts, butterflies and happy faces. No, it's not my birthday (though International Arley Appreciation day comes up on November 15th, so you might want to stock up on some more candles and incense to spruce up your Arley shrine). October 20th is the day that my hip restrictions will finally be over.

Yes, my life is about to get marginally less awkward! No more will I have to explain to passersby on the street that my ass cushion is not a very large, squishy briefcase. No more will I have to say the phrases, "No, I did not sprain my ankle. I had a hip replacement. Yes, I'm very young to have a hip replacement. I'm glad to hear your grandma's doing well after her knee replacement in 2005." No more will I trip random waiters because I have to stick my incredibly long leg out into the aisle when I'm sitting down (although my chances of getting attractive men to land in my lap is now significantly reduced).No more will I forgo dates because visions of cartoon old people in the post-hip-replacement sex manual getting it on are dancing (and by 'dancing' I mean 'f*cking to the point of hip dislocation') in my head.

Yes, there's light at the end of the Tunnel of Hip Replacement Ridiculousness. For the past few years, my diva hip has been the star of the Arley show. First, my hip was subluxing/dislocating/migrating south for the winter and I spent a good year traumatizing my family and friends by having them tug on my leg to put it back in the socket. Then, there was the first hip replacement and the ensuing melodrama and the second hip replacement and the ensuing hours spent in physio getting dating advice from old people. I am now equipped with a full-time post at the Ministry of Silly Walks and a lifetime of jokes about being half-assed.

But while the hip crisis is beginning to go from "Life-Consuming" to "Generally Annoying," other body parts are stepping in for their moment in the sun. For the past two weeks, one of my ribs has been out of alignment, which is causing breathing to be very difficult and is generally making me crankier than a cat at a water park. (How did you pop your rib out of alignment, Arley? Oh...you know...just living the dream).

This means that not only does my poor physio have to teach me how to not walk like a crack zombie, she also has to stand on a stool so she can get enough leverage to push my rib into its home while trying not to push my spinal facets or SI joints out of alignment. Sometimes it feels like my bones were designed by Picasso. Having a Skeleton: You're Doing it Wrong.

Granted, I didn't do myself any favours when I fell down the stairs last Friday, which is the exact thing that the 85-year-olds at physio are always warning me not to do (along with not dating tall men to avoid having daughters with big feet, but that's another story). I got a little cocky and thought, "Since I am the Queen of Recovery, for my next trick I will go downstairs backwards on slippery stairs in equally slippery shoes and that should work out well for me." As I felt myself falling, I panicked, grabbed my crutches, and twisted my hip hard, which caused my semi-detached gluteus medius to swell up to a gluteus maximus.

To calm the swelling and force my body parts to play nice, my physiotherapist pulled out the big guns: lasers. At first, I was worried, since my familiarity with lasers comes from the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and I am already part evil robot. I was assured, however, that the lasers would calm the swelling and reduce the pain. Bring on the happy lasers! Cut to me, a few minutes later, laying on my side with my pants down as my physio (wearing large eye-shielding goggles reminiscent of the ones old ladies who have had cataract surgery wear to drive) presses the laser into the side of my hip and my ass. Ass lasers to the rescue! Dignity not required! I'm pretty sure this is not the way most people spend their Friday afternoon, but I have to admit that that the lasers did the job. The swelling in my ass had gone down enough by Friday evening to cram myself into skinny jeans. And if skinny jeans aren't a benchmark to recovery, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rocking the 2010WWRC

Even when I'm not dealing with a hip re-replacement, I am still the Commander-In-Chief of AwkwardLand. I mean, if someone's going to accidentally light their hair on fire or fall and headbutt someone while trying to give them a hug, it's going to be me. When you add crutches, 16-hour work days, sleep deprivation, alcohol, a diet composed nearly entirely of coffee and the world's largest ass cushion into the equation, I basically become the Ultimate Grand Supreme Champion of Awkwardness and General Ridiculousity.

That was me at the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships, where I've been for the past few weeks working on the communications team. I've extolled the virtues of wheelchair rugby on this blog before and it's hard to describe the 2010WWRC with any other word but "awesome." Awesome rugby. Awesome people. Awesome event. Oh, and free Starbucks. Sweet, sweet Starbucks.

But while I'm a huge fan of wheelchair rugby, I can't say that my Freaky Cyborg Hip was too terribly impressed. The most painful part of recovery is clearly over, but the hip replacement provided endless opportunities for annoyance. It doesn't help that I have the patience of a sugar-high toddler or that I'd spent the past 6 weeks in bed eating frozen grapes and was not exactly used to being out and about.

The really strange part of having a hip replacement is that there are certain things that you physically could do (bending, twisting, crossing legs, etc), but you're not allowed to do them for fear of dislocation. After a few 16-hour work days and (let's be honest) a beer or two, the list of what you are and are not allowed to do becomes a little fuzzy around the edges and you can barely remember your name, let alone whether your air guitar rendition of "Living on a Prayer" is hip-replacement kosher or where you left your damn ass cushion.

Mostly, however, the problem was less pain and more annoyance. Annoyance at trying to balance crutches, an ass cushion and a tray full of Starbucks. Annoyance at having to call my friend C. to come pull my car out of the parking lot after some douche-kabob in an SUV parked so close to me that I couldn't open my door enough to get my left leg in. Annoyance at having to cruise the parking lot for a corner spot to prevent people from parking too close, being unable to find one, and having to park in the wheelchair parking and endure major side-eye from quadriplegics (and rightfully so). Annoyance at every well-intentioned volunteer or passerby or hotel staff who used the phrase "Gosh, you're really good on those there crutches! Bet you could beat me in a race!" or "What did you do to yourself? Sprain your ankle?" Annoyance at having to install a raised toilet seat in our hotel room, thereby turning the bathroom into a death trap for my poor roommate Shelley. Annoyance at trying to "dance" (translation: "moving my knee roughly in time to the music while waving my hands as if trying to put out a fire") on crutches.

That said, I think the trial-by-fire of the 2010WWRC ended up being good for the hip. Every day, the swelling actually reduced and the pain got less. It's also hard to remember you're in pain when you're having such a good time and when you have awesome friends who fly all the way from Illinois to party at the 2010WWRC and who generally rock your world. Besides, am I really going to complain about a semi-detached ass in a room full of quadriplegics?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

I have just four words to describe my first post-surgical outing to the PNE:
Deep.
Fried.
Oreos.
Yes!

Okay, I would have to step down as the Crown Princess of Verbosity if that was my entire post, but luckily there's a lot more to say on the subject. I'm not sure what lead me to think, "Gee, I have been in bed for a month straight and have had major surgery, so I should really ease myself back in to the land of the living by going to Vancouver's largest summer fair on a long weekend along with thousands of other people who would shank your mother for the last mini-donut....for 8 hours."

Actually, that particular thought process was caused by a few key factors:
1) I'm kind of a moron when it comes to gauging my tolerance for things.
2) I heard the siren song of the funnel cake in all its deep-fried, powdered-sugary-y seductiveness. Also: the siren song of the cotton candy, the poutine, the fresh-squeezed lemonade, the donairs, and (of course) the deep-fried oreos. It was a veritable siren-song doo-wop group.
3) It was a chance to spend time with several of the friends I still have in Vancouver. Plus, sometimes you've just got to give your hip a little pat and say, "Okay, hip. You've been in the driver's seat for the past month, but now it's time to scootch over to the passenger's seat and buckle up tight because I'm about to rev the engine."

The problem with going places post-hip-replacement is not the walking, though granted that sucks quite a bit. No, the real issue is sitting. There are many different shows at the PNE (the horse jumping....the Chinese acrobats...the SuperDogs...the random guy in a booth who spray-paints a Hummer about 8 million times a day then cleans it with some special cleaning product and progressively gets more loopy as the spray paint fumes get to him) and all of these shows require sitting on hip-precaution-breaking seats. I therefore had to travel with a chaperone: my huge-ass hip replacement cushion.

I thought I was being crafty by shoving the hip-replacement cushion into a backpack. The problem: getting it in and out of the backpack was harder than squeezing my ass into skinny jeans. It was literally a two-person job. Maybe my hip-replacement cushion had also been snacking on some deep-fried oreos, because as the day progressed, it got harder and harder to wrestle it into the bag. Worse: the person who ended up helping me was Shira and Jeff's friend C., who I barely know, and whose system has not built up a tolerance to my usual level of ridiculousness. (He was, thankfully, very nice about the whole thing). Nothing like the phrase "Hi, nice to meet you. Want to spend part of your relaxing weekend help me shove an ass cushion roughly the width of your grandma's Laz-E-Boy into this backpack 8 or 10 times a day?" to really make an impression. Really good way to meet people in Vancouver.

Still, it's good to know that I'm easing my way back into the saddle (the metaphorical saddle...the literal saddle would break hip precautions). Giddyup!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Not Taking This Sitting Down

I apologize for the radio silence. I hope no one thought that I had been attacked by a gang of rogue physio oldsters agitated into a jealous rage over my progress at physio. (Don't worry. I keep a bag of lint-covered peppermints in my pocket for such an occasion). No, the reason for my absence is that even though my ass is pretty much still stuck in bed, the power of the internets means that I'm kept on my toes by work, socializing (hey, Skype counts as socializing) and various internships.

Right now, two things are keeping my bed's ass groove firmly indented:
  1. The whole "brand, spanking new hip joint makes sitting and standing painful" thing, plus the fact that hip restrictions make doing cool things less cool (we all remember the sex manual, yes?).
  2. I know very few people in Vancouver (or, at least, very few people who I can't guilt trip into coming to visit me), which gives me little-to-no incentive to put on clothing that did not come courtesy of my former national team's Nike sponsorship. (Hey, no one said that the 'it' in "Just Do It" couldn't refer to eating frozen grapes while watching Alton Brown teach you how to cook a perfect porterhouse steak). I mean, if you're going to spend 15 minutes wrestling your jeans on with a grabber, you should probably go somewhere better than "to the mall to look at clothing you cannot try on without the aforementioned grabber, thus filling you with the rage of small animals."
Factor #1 is still in play. Those of you who are familiar with my neverending battle against my anti-ass know that I have never liked sitting. I like it even less after someone recently chiseled out my hip's ball and socket and used power tools to install a new one. Here's how I sit:
  1. Lug around an ass cushion 4 times the size of your laptop, which is great fun when you're still walking on crutches.
  2. Lay the ass cushion on a chair, though the fact that it is bigger than the surface of the chair will almost guarantee that it will fall off at some point in time.
  3. Try to lower yourself (without breaking hip precautions!) on to the chair. When the ass cushion falls off or slides out from under you, you will not be able to adjust it without breaking hip restrictions or reaching for your grabber. Since you do not want to ask someone to reach between your legs and give your ass cushion a good yank, you will settle for riding a four-inch-thick square of foam side saddle.
  4. Perch on the terribly askew ass cushion with your bad leg stuck out and your back jammed against the backrest so that the bones of your spine are bruised, requiring you to stick one hand behind your back between your spine and your backrest, like Napoleon in reverse.
  5. Realize that you look like some sort of broken life-sized marionette.
  6. Or like a contestant on America's Top Geriatric Model. (The only people who sit worse than I do are models in fashion magazines. I suspect they, too, are plagued by the scourge of ass bruising).
  7. Or like some sort of gout-stricken king after feasting on an entire roast pig and swilling jugs of mead.
You can therefore see why it takes a lot more than boredom to get me out of the house.

This week, however, I've finally received the motivation I need to leave the comfort of my room: my friend S., who recently moved to Vancouver from Australia to do a four-month internship. She was staying at my place for awhile and I'm assuming that she did not move halfway around the world to get the grand tour of my favourite daytime reality TV shows. It was time to put on my big girl pants and head out into the real world.

S. moving to Vancouver, by the way, is all part of my master plan. See, I have a great many talents: picking things up with the toes on my right foot (they are like monkey toes!); making French buttercream; injecting business correspondence with the appropriate dash of "You Attitude." The list goes on. But meeting new people? Not really a strong suite. Nine times out of 10, I will knock something over with my elaborate hand gestures and the person will assume I have a meth addiction. Solution: Bring all my old friends to Vancouver! (Are you listening, people of Champaign-Urbana?)

Granted, S. and I did spend a significant amount of time watching Dexter re-runs online. But I also went on my first real post-surgical excursion....to the Richmond Night Market. Why I thought that I should take my first non-physio-or-doctor-related trip at a place jammed with thousands of jostling and shoving people, many of whom are carrying squid on pointy sticks, I don't know. I do know, however, that I was able to maneuver past the stalls that specialize in handmade false eyelashes, past the accupuncturist who boasted of his ability to cure "Human Pain," past the snake exhibit and the rows of LED-lighted T-shirts that light up in time to music, past the stand after stand carrying delicious dim-sum goodness and potato chips on sticks. I tasted victory and it tasted like chocolate-pudding bubble tea!

The next day, I even went to my friend T's house with S. (and my ass cushion) to eat a delicious dinner and fawn over her cats. For ages I've had a standing appointment with my bed and suddenly I've sprung back into action. Make way, real world. I'm slowly creeping my way back towards you.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On the Cat Walk. On the Cat Walk, Yeah.

One of the few times I leave the house these days is to go on my physio-prescribed walks around the neighbourhood. Seeing as how I live on the mean streets of New Westminster, (we might get turn-of-the-century-small-town-charmed to death), it's lucky that my mom and I have protection during these excursions: my guard cat Mika, who insists on joining us for every single walk. I think it's safe to say that no baby bunnies or starlings will be harassing us while Mika's on patrol.

This is therefore the sight that the good people of New Westminster see as I pass every day: me, shuffling along with my crutches, wearing baggy workout clothing and a pair of stained MaryJanes because they're the only shoes that don't a) give me blisters or b) require the use of a "sock aid" and shoe horn to put on, glasses askew, hair looking like that of a Barbie doll that's spent years in the bottom of atoybox , calling out every once in awhile to my cat to cajole her into coming out from a hedge and reminding her that she's a "good girl." I could not look more like a psychiatric-ward patient if I put on a tinfoil hat or one of those apocalyptic-themed sandwich boards. Step right up, boys. Can I interest anyone in a copy of my post-surgical sex manual? Anyone? Not all at once.

During my first hip replacement, Mika lived with A. I had worried that she would be a tripping hazard or that she would jump up on my freshly operated-on hip and thought it best that she stay with someone who could lavish her with the attention she deserves. This time, however, I didn't have a choice in the matter. And sure enough....Mika's a tripping hazard and jumps up on my freshly operated-on hip. Actually, she doesn't so much 'jump up on' my hip as she does 'stand on me and dig her tiny paw right into my hip in her efforts to reach over my body to drink from my water glass on the bedside table, which often results in me being woken up not only by the pain of having 10 pounds of cat foot on a place that was recently sliced and diced, but also by the clunking noise of Mika trying to free herself from the water glass that she's gotten her head stuck in.

Mika is also making it difficult to keep my hip restrictions. When she comes for walks, I'm always tempted to turn around to see where she is (I do my little turn on the cat walk), especially when she meows at me when I get too far ahead. Turning is a major hip-replacement no no because you can't twist from your hip.Mika also likes to rub her face on my crutches to claim them as her own (uh...you can have them, cat), which causes her to weave in and out of my unsteady feet.

Worse, she's unable to read the "I just had major surgery" memo, so she doesn't understand why I can't reach down to pet her while she's on the floor, or why I can't pick her up or why I take a really long time to shuffle over to the sink to turn on the tap so she can have a drink. It's one thing to be frustrated because you can't pick up your pants from the floor. It's another to have your little cat rolling on the floor in front of you as if to say, "Don't I look cute? Wouldn't you like to just break your hip precautions and risk possible prosthesis loosening and/or dislocation just once by reaching down to scratch me under the chin?"

All that aside, it's really good to have Mika here. There are few things in this world that a purring cat doesn't cure. Okay, actually there are a lot of things that a purring cat won't cure, (gluteus medius detachment, for example), but she is damn good at relieving the melancholy that comes from weeks spent in bed watching reality TV shows about American prisons.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pulled Pork Injury!!

There's a new season of America's Next Top Model coming up and I know you'll all be shocked that I'm not trying out. It's been nearly three weeks since my surgery and I am clearly on the fast-track to hotness. I mean, check out what I have to offer:
  • Legs that have not been shaved because of the whole "hip restrictions and bloodthinners" thing. Well, that and they're longer than the "Clan of the Cave Bears" saga and I have trouble reaching them at the best of times.
  • Legs that have not been moisturized on account of said hip restrictions, making me a more ideal contestant for America's Next Top She-Lizard.
  • A uniform of dri-fit shorts and workout T-shirts accented with dried noodles and honey-mustard sauce. Stylish and tasty! Bra not included!
  • The finishing bag-lady touch: stained, falling-apart Mary Janes, which are the only slip-on shoes that don't give me blisters.
  • Stress-induced eczema! Don't worry, it just looks like ringworm!
  • The red-hot three-weeks-post-surgery strut, coming to live from that catwalk known as "the block around my house."
Oh yeah. I know you're feeling it.

But today, I took hotness to a whole new level. For the past few weeks, my poor mom has had to slave away making me meals. (Thanks, mom!) On today's menu: pulled pork sandwiches. Now, pulled pork and I have a long and storied romance. Half of the world's greatest love songs could have been written about my feelings towards this dish. You could literally put pulled pork on ice cream and I would be down with it.

These days are not exactly filled with epic highs. I mean, the zenith of last week was eating those Swedish Fish candies. So you can imagine my emotional state leading into this moment of pulled porkery. I already had my stretchy eatin' pants on. I picked up my sandwich expecting a warm, gooey, sweet bite of pulled-pork awesomeness. Instead, here's what I got:

A first-degree burn from molten BBQ sauce on my face and hand! Yes, I sustained a pulled pork injury. When porky goodness attacks! Unnatural! I have given pulled pork only love and respect and this is how I get repaid? Pulled pork is supposed to bring only joy, comfort and occasionally mild-to-moderate gastrointestinal distress when it is served in certain dim sum restaurants that are now out of business. Because what I really needed to bring my attractiveness quotient to the next level was a burn that looks like I have some sort of sexually transmitted ulcer. Thank you, life! Thank you very much.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Arley 3.0: Sweating With the Not-So-Oldies

Yesterday was my second day in physio and I am well on my way to becoming teacher's pet, as opposed to last time when I was basically in the hip equivalent of special ed. Someone give me a gold star! The first day, we did a few slow, gentle exercises. This time, however, it was time to get on a bullet train known as the Recovery Express. In the words of the ridiculous Home Depot ad that has been playing on my TV roughly 8 million times a day, it was time to "kick my doing dial up a notch."

I came to physio expecting to work out for 45 minutes to an hour. Ninety minutes later, I was still sweating away on this "step-fit" machine that's like a cross between an elliptical machine, a stationary bike and a stair master...if you can imagine it. I was like one of those show ponies...or a dog in an agility course (well, maybe 'agility' is the wrong word...). I'm swinging my legs in swings! I'm pulling my leg with a lever! I'm squeezing and tightening! I'm lifting and lowering! I'm doing 5 minutes on the step-fit machine! I'm doing some sort of bizarre squatting thing on the balance bars like an arthritic, polio-stricken ballerina! I'm bending over forward on the physio bed waggling my ass in the air while trying to raise my legs in a manner not befitting of a lady!

I, of course, was loving it. I was like some sort of slobbery St. Bernard let loose for a romp in the forest. I was picking up a scent and it smelled like recovery. Despite the fact that it's only been two weeks, it feels like a lifetime since I've flailed away on an elliptical machine with Jesus and Mary Chain cranked up to the point where my ears start to hum. Even five minutes on the "stair fit" felt like the "running up the stairs" scene in Rocky. (To be fair, "Eye of the Tiger" does loop almost constantly in my head, so even brushing my teeth feels like the "running up the stairs" scene in Rocky).

You might be saying to yourself, "But Arley. Aren't you pacing yourself against people who remember the Hoover Administration?" No. Incorrect. Last year, I went to physio at 8:30 a.m. and the clinic was packed full of the "6 a.m. breakfast at the Jiffy Wiffy Waffle House" set. You know, the type of elderly person for whom restaurants keep liver and onions on the menu from between 4 pm and 5:30. For whatever reason, old people like mornings, and old people who need a hip or knee replacement like morning physio appointments.

My new time is in the afternoon and the crowd is a lot younger. I mean, not "going to a Justin Bieber concert" young....or even "going to a Michael Buble concert" young...or, come to think of it, not even a "going to a Paul Anka concert and then gushing about how no one makes real music these days" young. But they're definitely younger and more spry. There were even a few people that seemed to be roughly my age. I have a lot of competition in the optimization department.

And to those of you who are pointing out that physio is actually not a competition and that there is no prize for the fastest recovery....also incorrect. If I've learned one thing from years of wheelchair basketball, it's that literally anything can be made into a competition. So the next time you're in the grocery store and you feel as if someone is staring you down, radiating the intense focus of a champion....that's me. And I will get the freshest watermelon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Arley 3.0: Bring on the Optimization

There are few things in life more soul-blisteringly frustrating than being out-performed by an old man in slippers....especially if that man has pieces of food in his goatee...especially if his hip replacement was months after yours. After my first hip replacement, I spent six months at the out-patient physical therapy clinic at Burnaby Hospital, where I was treated to a revolving door of wizened gnome-men and shrunken old ladies in sweatpants, all of whom were literally walking circles around me. Let's just say that it's not so easy to concentrate on your "clamshell" exercises when some broad in a Bedazzled cat sweatshirt in the bed next to you is sizing you up as if to say, "You think that's a leg lift? That's really the best you've got? Compared to you, I look like I'm working the pole at Girls, Girls, Girls."

Every time I tried unsuccessfully to navigate the stairs or swing my leg in the physio sling, every other patient in the room would get a twinkle of superiority in their eye. I should have applied for federal grant money because I was doing a freaking public service by boosting the self-esteem of the elderly. You can therefore see why I was nervous about my first day at physio following the second hip replacement. It's been a rough few months: the leaving Illinois, the surgery, the hours of Home and Garden television. Could I handle the smugness of people who got their hip replacements after re-enacting that "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercial?

Actually, I was excited about physio, if only because it was a chance to get out of my bed. I am not very good at the whole "taking it easy" thing. "Take it too hard to the point that you injure yourself:" that's me. "Sulking for months in bed because you go a little nuts when you're not constantly on the go:" also me. Bottom line: I don't like being still and I was ready to get this recovery show on the road.

When I arrived at Burnaby Hospital, I discovered that the out-patient physical therapy clinic had been changed into a new "Optimization Clinic." See, I'm all about the euphemisms. I don't need months of physiotherapy, I just need a little....optimization. Just tweaking! Minor alterations to allow me to be the best cyborg I could be! Just tighten those bolts and lube up those joints and I'm good to go! Physiotherapy clinic says "Spend hours out of your day watching the graying flesh on an old woman's thigh swaying in the traction slings." Optimization clinic, however, says, "Girl, you are already fabulous. Hold on to your crutches, ladies, because we're about to crank the awesomeness amps up to 11!"

And you know what? After six months of hearing "your progress is slower than the plot of an Ann Michaels novel," I was surprised to hear the phrase "you are actually...doing pretty well." I guess this is what they mean when they say that a hip replacement is a routine surgery. I mean, at 9 days post-surgery last time, I was still in the hospital. Hell, I was going downstairs backwards until about 8 weeks post-surgery.

This time, however, I was able to do nearly every exercise the physio asked me to do, and I spent most of the appointment weighing my progress against an old lady who kept exclaiming, "Bless his holy socks!" Bless his holy socks, indeed, because I was kicking ass and taking names. Move over, people, because Arley 3.0 has arrived to show you how this optimization business is done. Cyborg power!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Arley 3.0: This Won't Make The Highlight Reel

It's been over a week since the surgery and the really gross stuff is probably over. The incision is healing even though the staples aren't out; it's been nearly a week since my stomach behaved like it belonged to a sorority girl a few hours after a barn dance; and even though it still takes me 30 minutes to heroin-shuffle around the block in my workout clothes, my pain is decreasing and my nap-to-walking ratio is probably down to 2:1.

The problem is, however, that I'm settling into what is arguably the hardest part of having surgery, at least for me: the boring part. The "trying to decide between a re-run of a show that explores the complex world of Minneapolis 20-somethings trying to buy a house they can't afford and a re-run of a show that explores that complex world of a 30-something couple from Dallas trying to re-landscape their garden" part. The "being in the same position on the same bed with the same view wearing the same workout clothes for weeks at a time" part. The "having to rely on people to bring you every glass of water, spoon, or carrot stick and, when you're home alone, having to weigh whether it's better to stay hungry or drag your ass downstairs to find food that you can consume in the kitchen since you can't carry anything upstairs" part. The "having to take shuffle steps to close the door behind you in the bathroom because hip restrictions prevent you from twisting" part. The "not being able to sleep because I spend all day in bed and my so-called 'sleep hygiene' is poor" part.

Yeah, I better develop a fondness for wry British murder mysteries on PBS because I suspect that this is how it feels to be old. I know. Whiny, right? Anyhow, the point is that nothing that happens for the next 3 months will likely make it in the highlight reel when they make an action-packed movie of my life and that's a weird state to be in. I guess the good part is that at least I've gone through this once. The ass indentation in my bed in pre-indented. I am so adept at working the grabber it's like a Go-Go-Gadget arm. More importantly, however, I know that it will eventually pass. Eventually. In theory.

Ok, time to pack up the pity party. Tomorrow's my first day of physio and I need to be firing on all systems to deal with being out-run by 90-year-olds

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What to Expect When You're Expecting to Become a Cyborg: The Hip Replacement!

When I started this blog nearly a year ago, my original intention was to write about my own hip-replacement experience so that people going through the same thing would hear something more than the "OMG, it's going to be the best experience ever! It's the surgery version of Disneyland! You will be skipping around in fields of wild flowers while lute music sweetly serenades you in no time!" you get from most people in the hip-replacement world. (Yeah, I might pretend to be the Mother Theresa of the Arthroplasty, but everyone knows my real motivation was fame and fortune. Google AdSense, you owe me $20.18!)

I may not be able to offer any useful tips (beyond "try not to have your ass fall off"), but I sure can provide a travelogue of the hip-replacement wilderness for future travelers. I'm like the Lonely Planet Guide, but instead of telling you about what hostels are less likely to give you fleas, I'm telling you about how it feels to be awake while someone takes a power saw to your midsection. If you're squeamish, you might want to move along to the next post while dreaming of fluffy kittens.

On the day of the surgery, I got up at 4:30 a.m. so that I could have a shower. You might be thinking, "Why not get up at 5 a.m. and skip the shower?" Quick answer: Because I knew that my next shower would be three or four days later when I would be dizzy, covered in pink antiseptic wash and sitting on a shower chair swearing a blue streak because a) I dropped my washcloth and there is literally no way to pick it up without breaking hip precautions b) every time I look down I see the 30-something staples along the side of my leg and c) I have to juggle a hand-held shower that is twisting in my hand like a cobra and spraying water all over my towel. (Okay, that wasn't a quick answer).

After you check in to the hospital, you go to a pre-op holding pen where you are visited by a never-ending stream of medical professionals. It's like being Scrooge in "A Nightmare Before Christmas" but with fewer figgy puddings and more needles. For some reason, most of these medical professionals turned out to be young, attractive males. At first, I was like "screw Plenty of Fish! Bring on Plenty of Interns With Incredible Earning Potential! Let's hope that sleep deprivation has the same effect as beer goggles!"

Alas, it ended up like the most disappointing romance novel ever. Instead of having the hot young intern give me his phone number, he signed his initials in felt pen on my upper thigh so that the surgical team wouldn't slice up the wrong leg. (It's actually still there). When I originally met the hot anesthesiologist intern, I was like, "Damn, you can slide your epidural needle into my joint space any time." After the 5 attempts it took him to get my IV in, however, I had to amend that to "no...seriously...any time now....whenever you're ready."

After an hour of that, it was finally go time. I was wheeled into the OR room and transferred on to the table to get my epidural. I mentioned in a previous post that it took two epidural injections, probably about 8 or 9 attempts, and over a dozen local anesthetic doses to get me frozen. Seriously, if I heard the phrase "you'll just feel a little poke here...." one more time I was going to give them a little poke with my fist in their face. Now, I had a terrible case of mono a few years back and the result is that when I get tired, dehyrated, hungry or...I don't know....all of the above while being jabbed with needles over and over again, I tend to faint. Long story short: I keeled over like one of those goats that George Clooney stares at. They had to finish the epidural with me laying on my side.

This time, they did the hip replacement through the back way, which unfortunately means that I cannot look at my proper, gentlemanly, pink-polo-shirt-wearing surgeon without hearing Howlin Wolf's "Backdoor Man." So that I could assume the back-door position, (I'm not being dirty! That's what they call it!) they set up some vises, laid me on my side, and clamped me on to the table as if I was a 2 X 8 on a sawhorse. The powertools laid out by me did little to detract from the effect. It was a little like being part of some "saw the woman in half" magic trick, since people kept draping me with fabric and, you know, actually sawing through my bones.

To sedate me, they gave me a little sip of the Michael Jackson cocktail, Propofol, so for most of the surgery I was in and out of consciousness. I could feel twisting and hammering and sawing and pulling, but was drugged up enough to feel that the most appropriate response would be to have a conversation with Hot Anesthesiologist Intern. Lord knows what we talked about. I shudder to think. (Maybe this is what I need to talk to guys....surgical-grade sedatives). My final memory of the surgery: seeing one of the assistant surgeons with his face shield sprayed with drops of my blood informing me that they were just stitching me up.

After that, it's on to the recovery room. Because of the problems with the epidural, I was frozen for much longer than expected, which means that I spent four hours listening to an endless parade of morphine-addled old people, one of whom would not stop noting aloud how sorry she felt for a nurse who was a recent single mother, how very, very sorry she was, how unfortunate it was that some poor children were growing up without a father. It also meant that they had to put a catheter in which, even though I was partially frozen, still wasn't the most fun thing to ever happen to my lady business. (Those of you asking what exactly would be the most fun that ever happened to my lady business need to check yourself). Yes, having a hip replacement definitely means checking your dignity at the door.

And on that sexy note, I'm going to go back to sleep. Yup, still blogging with a little help from Vitamin D...and I'm not talking about the kind you get from sunshine.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Arley 3.0: Now With More Morphine

It's 5 days after surgery and this post is brought to you by the letter D for Dilauded AKA Hydromorphone AKA "Surgery? What surgery? Why am I dreaming of cartoon hamsters?" Yes, after my second hip replacement I am "keeping comfortable" on the same drug that's keeping Lindsey Lohan "comfortable" while she's chilling in jail. The only difference is that she got it for a minor dental procedure and I had to stay another night in the hospital because of the difficulties of getting a prescription for it, even though someone took power tools to my hip's joint space. Man, celebrity has its perks. (On that note, how does Lindsey Lohan get counted as a celebrity? Who is jail is thinking, "Well, I know she hijacked a car and drove three terrified passengers on a coke-fueled police chase...but she did gift the world with the cinematic brilliance that was "The Parent Trap," so let's call it a wash. Feel free to load up on sketchy, easily abused prescription meds before you do your time, darling!")

I was hoping to blog more recently after the surgery, but unfortunately there was no wireless internet in the hospital and I'm pretty sure that for the first few days, my blog posts would resemble the rants you hear on Hastings and Main in Vancouver. That means that I've got a lot of ground to cover. I'm going to break it down into smaller posts over the next few days, mostly since the letters are already kind of swimming on the page and my nap-per-paragraph ratio is roughly 1:1.

So....Arley Version 3.0 Coles Notes Edition. The biggest headline is that it didn't go exactly as expected: They didn't attach the gluteus medius because there was too much scar tissue. They did, however, replace the socket and ball. And they went in through the back door (that's what she said) so the whole thing should be much more stable. After the surgery, Dr. SecondOpinion told me that the result "won't be one of those hip replacements where the person walks well." (Oh, you wanted one of those? You should have specified!) So far, however, the results feel a million times better than the first time around. My hip's not clunking around the way it was before and I'm walking pretty well considering that everything in the area is still like, "Dude, WTF?"

I will blog more about the surgery when every sentence I write isn't being co-authored by a morphine derivative, but here are some teasers:

  • Want to know what phrase you don't want to hear coming from a guy who's about to jam a big-ass needle into your spine? "Because I'm just learning, I'll be supervised by Dr. SoAndSo Here." And coming in a close second: "You're going to feel a poke....another poke....and another poke....Darn." (Perhaps the reason why it was so hard for me to get a Dilauded prescription is because of the track mark situation on my arms and back).
  • Want to know a phrase that you should never have to say after receiving a spinal epidural? "Um....so.....am I supposed to, like, feel numb yet?"
  • For the first few days, I dreamed of exploding cartoon hamsters, which struck me as such a stereotypical Oxycontin-fueled dream that I would amuse myself and wake up. You know you've spent too much time in academia when you are woken up by irony.
  • Day 1: I felt freaking fantastic. Little pain, no nausea. I was the Queen of Surgery, the Princess of the Post-Op, I was mentally reinacting that "king of the world' scene in Titanic. I was like, "Wait...you mean....something might actually go....right?"
  • Day 2: Let's just say there was more puking than a bulimic convention in an ice-cream shop.
  • Let's also say that I will never again eat pea soup with noodles. And that for days after I was still finding specks of dried neon-green bile on my hospital bed...my desk lamp....my bedside table..... (Too much information? Too much information).
  • The first day, my roommate was a guy who had broken both of his heels after his girlfriend threw $1800 of his money in $100 bills out the window and he jumped out the second-story window after it. (Suddenly, being single doesn't seem so bad).
  • For the rest of the stay, my roommate was an elderly Asian man who talked in his sleep in a mixture of Chinese and English, resulting in such gems as "You need 30% more birth control!'
  • I woke up this morning to my cat snuggling under my chin purring and sleepily licking my chin and was almost deliriously happy. Well, okay, the delirious part was probably the morphine, but still. Ah, cats: They love you and they never drop $1800 of your cash money out the window.
Okay, I'm off to drift into a drug-fueled slumber. Post more soon!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Arley Version 3.0

Well, tomorrow's the big day: My Freaky Cyborg Hip gets it hardware upgrade to V. 3.0 and I get to star in a remake of "Dude, Where's My Dignity?" (Actually, depending on what drugs they give me, it actually might be more like "Dude, Why Are There Small People Sitting on My Feet Singing 'Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man?'") IMPORTANT NOTE TO SELF: Do not update your work Facebook page while whacked out of your tree on painkillers. If only there was a way to lock your Facebook account so you have to take a skill-testing question to post a status update like there is with Gmail. Oh well.

As per usual, I've been overestimating my readiness for the surgery. Last time around, I was diligent: my walker, cushion, sock aid, shoehorn and elastic-laced shoes were lined up like little soldiers ready for battle. My rooms were de-cluttered with a post-hip-replacement body in mind. My bags were packed according to the hospital-approved checklist. I had read the "What to Expect When You're Becoming a Cyborg" (AKA the hip-replacement preparedness manual) back to front. I was like, "Dude, bring it on. I've got this."

This time around: It's 9:30 pm, I have to get up at 4:30 a.m., I have yet to pack anything, my post-hip-replacement bolster is covered in dust, there are piles of clothes strewn all over my room in a manner reminiscent of the $5 sale at Old Navy and I'm really more interested in downloading the "Angry Birds" game for my new Iphone. Yes, I am officially a card-carrying member of the Hipster Society. Good thing I can't wear skinny jeans for another 6 or 8 weeks due to post-surgical swelling, because you could write me off.

In the dreams I've been having about this surgery, I watch the operation while floating above as the events happen in fast-forward while the song "Grounded" by Pavement plays. Yes, even my subconscious is a hipster.



Oh well. Wish me luck. I check in at 6 a.m., my surgery will be around 7 or 8 a.m. and beyond that...Lord knows. Considering that the surgery plan is "open me up and see what's in there and hopefully put my ass back on," what kind of surgery I'll end up getting is really anyone's guess. Either way, Arley Version 2.0 will be a thing of the past and it's time for Arley 3.0: Now with Reattached Ass. And hopefully lasers.

Hopefully, the next time you hear from me, I'll be new and improved and only slightly spelling like a crack-addicted LOLCat. I'll try to update as soon as possible. Too bad I don't have a Twitter account because morphine tweets (Tweaks?) might be really awesome.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Invisible Cartoon Old People Porn....YES!

As expected, the move back to Vancouver was rough (emotional Arley + emotional cat + wheelchair + heavy bag + leaving forever + impending surgery and months of recovery + tons of stuff to do for work + sleep deprivation + did I mention leaving forever? is not exactly a recipe for awesomeness), but we made it here in one piece. I could spend roughly 12,400 words rehashing my complex feelings on leaving, how much I'm going to miss everyone, and how heartbroken I am every time I see poor Mika curled up on A.'s shirt at the corner of my bed, nuzzling it as if she could make A. reappear by doing so, then laying down on it with her head between her paws with a look of pure feline longing. Cat heartbreak is the very worst heartbreak of all!


But let's leave the emo-ness to the cat because we have more important topics to discuss....Invisible Cartoon Old People Hip Replacement Porn!

The day after I got back from Illinois, I went to the OASIS hip/knee-replacement orientation session. In truth, I tried to weasel my way out of it on account of the fact that I am perhaps a little too well oriented in what to expect following a hip replacement. If anything, I would like to become less oriented so that the mere sight of that stupid "sock aid" sitting on a chair in my room ready to aid me in spending 15 minutes just to put on a single freaking sock doesn't give me PTSD flashbacks. I decided to go, however, for two reasons: 1) the lady on the phone insisted in a very firm voice that it was mandatory and I am nothing if not compliant and 2) the last time I did the OASIS program, some chick fainted and I like being around people whose coping skills are worse than my own.

I will spare you a rehashing of the OASIS session. Suffice to say that it is like kindergarten class for people who are getting their limbs sawed off and reassembled. Some nice lady with a calm, gentle, day-care-y voice teaches you to how to avoid post-surgical constipation and demonstrates the best way to inject your stomach fat with bloodthinners to avoid bruising. Just when I was thinking that the day was going to be a waste of time, however, I spied a thick booklet on a pamphlet rack by the OASIS lady's shoulder: Sex After Total Joint Replacement. Let the real lessons begin!

The first time around, all I got was a one-page handout discreetly tucked into a folder of other hip-replacement info. This time, however, they've pulled out all the stops. For starters, the manual stars an elderly couple who resemble the neighbor couple from Dennis the Menace...and let's just say that in this booklet, Martha's doing a lot more than needlepoint.




On one hand, I can understand the thought process behind the cartoon old people. After all, you don't want Doris Q. Hip-Replacement-Patient to be stuck in her fanciest flannel teddy staring at the handout thinking, "Well, damn. In the diagram, your breasts are supposed to be right here, but mine are down by my bellybutton....It's so confusing! I just can't make it all line up!" On the other hand, however, I'm not sure why they felt the need to include images such as this one:


Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That is a cartoon rendering of an old man counting the days until his lady love's post-surgical bruising has gone down to the point that he can rock her compression socks off.

Or this one, which I'm pretty sure depicts the same old guy waiting for his Viagra to kick in while the pamphlet warns about the post-surgical risk of...um....an arid climate in the lady garden:

Why does he look so downcast and alone? Is it because the clock on his chest is counting down the seconds until his sex-induced heart attack? Or maybe it's causing him to reminisce about the time he spent touring with Flava Flav? Who knows? Someone get this guy a Werther's Original because he needs to cheer the hell up. I mean, he's about to get some serious action. Perk up, buddy!

Of course, what would a post-hip-replacement sex manual be if elderly cartoon people didn't demonstrate the acceptable positions? I love some of the graphic-design choices that were made here. Eyes: no. Mouth: no. Perfect 1950s-old-lady updo: MANDATORY. Pearl earrings: ALSO MANDATORY. (Those of you about to make a 'pearl necklace' joke need to check yourselves). And if you ever want to know what exactly your beloved Gran-Gran and Pop-Pop were doing on that rocking chair you used to love as a child...the one with the hand-crocheted afghan....



I especially love the positioning of the artificial hip in this last position. It seems to say, "Oh, God, Walter. Take me with your four inches of medical-grade cobalt chrome! Don't stop!" (Too much? Too much).

But wait! Don't leave to go wash your eyeballs out with acid! It gets better. Do you want to know what this is? Do you want to take a guess?
If you guessed "an image of someone's Granny calling the doctor after she has f*cked her husband's hip right out of its socket," then give yourself a hand! Clearly, someone got a little in to the old cowgirl rocking-chair routine and is going to have a great story to tell to the Bridge Club. Apparently when you put a little Crown Royal in her Ensure meal supplements, she goes wild! You git it, girl!

But..see...here's the problem. I am single. It's bad enough that for ages post-surgery I'm going to have to greet potential suitors with the phrase, "It's nice to meet you. Let me put down this walker so that I can shake your hand." And I'm pretty sure that any sex that requires you to cross-reference your positions with any type of manual is not the kind of sex I want to have. But even if I did want to give some lucky gentleman this booklet as a little homework assignment, what do you think the reaction's going to be? "Thanks for this reading material, darling. I was worried about how to accommodate your post-surgical needs, but now that I mentally associate you with eye-less cartoon old people, I am suddenly overcome with wild feelings of lust! You can consider me officially in the throes of desire!"

Okay, OASIS program. Thanks a lot. You can consider me officially oriented. So oriented that I'm about to buy a few more cats and a pint of Haagen Daaz and call it a day.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This Cane Was Made for Walkin'

For the past week, I've been trying to come up with something to blog about that isn't whiny. It's a week until I leave Champaign (for good this time...I promise!) and my inner monologue sounds like it came from the "Emily the Strange" diary of a 16-year-old girl. In theory, I should embrace the fact that I'm moving back to Vancouver and become excited for my new life. After all, Vancouver is one of the world's most livable cities. (A. keeps reminding me of this fact, and I keep reminding him that Vancouver is only the world's most livable city if you are cultivating an ironic mustache or you have a high tolerance to sunshine-deprivation-induced depression).

The bottom line is that Vancouver is a difficult city to make friends in at the best of times, and I am worried that loneliness will turn me into one of those people who goes to the library in order to rope the librarian into a detailed conversation about their psoriasis and then spends hours reading the newspaper and remarking, "Oh my god! That's so funny! That's so interesting!" aloud in the hopes that someone (anyone!) will ask them what's so funny/interesting. After all, it's easy to make friends when you're in school. It's less easy to make friends when you're by yourself and you worry that people are judging you on your post-hip-replacement elastic shoelaces.

See what I mean? Whiny.

Today, however, I finally came up with something positive to blog about: my newfound leg strength. Because I don't have a car in Champaign, I've been walking between two and four miles a day. While this is annoying since it's hot as balls in Champaign-Urbana, it is forcing me to develop the kind of leg strength needed for post-surgical recovery. My legs have gotten seriously muscular and even my anti-ass is becoming less concave. If this keeps up, I'll have to change its name to "actual ass."

The only problem is, however, that I am notorious for over-estimating my physical abilities. When you add this to the hot, humid weather we've been having lately, my over-reaching can occasionally get me in trouble. A few days ago, for example, the tip of my cane split. No problem, I decided. I'll just walk the 1.5 miles to the medical supply place. Well, it turns out that walking 1.5 miles when it's 97 degrees and so humid you feel as if you're stuck inside someone's mouth is no easy feat. By the time I got to the medical supply place, I was drenched with sweat, completely exhausted, and so sore that I was walking like a stroke victim. I could not fathom walking back.

I swallowed my pride and called A. and asked if he had any desire to rescue a (slightly sweaty) damsel in distress. Like any good friend, A. laughed for several minutes and then agreed to bring his noble steed (a Dodge Aries) to rescue me. I was so relieved that I bought him lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant where we drank cold drinks, ate the world's worst burritos (seriously...a flour tortilla and a gray paste of ground beef do not a burrito make!) and watched World Cup soccer. It was cheaper and more fun than a taxi. Poor A. Not only does he have to watch my cat, calm my moving-related fears and occasionally do my dishes, now he has to play chauffer.

You might be saying to yourself, "Arley, there is this new-fangled invention known as 'the bus,' which will take you to places outside of your walking range on days when it is hot as balls." To you, I say: I am too impatient for the bus. (You can see why I'm such a joy to be around post-surgery). Every time I try to take the bus, I find myself waiting there thinking, "Why am I sitting here for 15 minutes waiting for the bus to show up when I can be out there walking and getting shit accomplished?" I therefore decide to start walking along the bus route in the hopes of catching the bus when it passes. Of course, I'm between bus stops when the bus passes, which means that I end up walking all the way to my destination. Also: I have a weirdo magnet and buses are recipes for "Arley getting to hear the life story of someone with a meth addiction."

Oh well. I have only a few more weeks of walking before I have surgery and will spend months taking 20 minutes to go once around the block. Sigh. I will not be emo....I will not be emo.....I will not be emo.....I will not.....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Theory of One Less Gross Thing

It's less than a month until my new surgery date and I'm trying to get mentally prepared for it. Granted, it will be nice to no longer have the surgery hanging over my head, so that I can get on with my life. I've been avoiding dating because I don't want to have to end some hot date by saying, "We'll have to do it again sometime soon....like next week, when I'll be using a walker and will be whacked out of my tree on morphine. Oh, and just FYI, here's a handout of acceptable post-surgical sex positions in case you make it to the third date." Yes, it's time to get the "walking properly" show on the road.

Still, I suspect that this time around will be harder than the last. Last time, I was relentlessly optimistic. I'd done my homework on the surgeon. I'd done a significant pre-hab routine to build up the muscles around my hip. I was young, I was fit, and visions of strutting around the hospital showing off my impressive recovery to the other elderly patients were dancing in my head. Even though it all went off the rails, I was able to power through it mentally by adopting the Theory of One Less Gross Thing. (Okay, I know that technically it should be One Fewer Gross Thing, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it).

The Theory of One Less Gross Thing rests on the premise that the surgery is a one-shot deal and that every gross, humiliating, painful or unpleasant thing that occurs does so for the last time ever. When I was puking up fluorescent-green bile, I wasn't thinking, "Damn, this sucks," but "This is the last time I ever have to do this. This is one less gross thing I have to go through." When I was getting my staples torn out of my incision perhaps a few days too early by an 80-year-old doctor with shaky hands, I wasn't thinking, "Hot damn, remind me to apologize to all the stapled sheets of paper I have unwittingly violated over the years," but "This is the last time I ever have to do this. This is one less gross thing I have to go through." Shuffling along with a walker; trying to use a long-handled sponge probably created to bathe elephants to scrub the pink antiseptic wash off my toes; injecting my stomach with bloodthinners in a drug-induced haze: all of these were one less gross thing I had to go through, one less gross thing that was standing between me and my sexy new walk.

Well, of course it didn't work out that way and now I'm gearing up for the hip-replacement sequel. Like most sequels, this hip replacement promises to suck more than the first. Part of the reason is that the Theory of One Less Gross Thing no longer applies. I'll be going through everything again and, worse still, I know exactly how gross it will be. Actually, considering that I don't know whether I'll be weightbearing or not, if I'll be following hip restrictions or not, or whether the additional gluteus-medius reattachment will make it more painful than the last time, I could be up for even grosser Gross Things.

Oh well. I aim to make the most of my three weeks of freedom. I've been swimming, walking at least a mile a day, doing the elliptical machine, and doing little weight-training circuits with ab workouts. If I can't be optimistic, at least I'll be fit.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hip Replacement 2.0: The Anti-Ass Strikes Back

Long-time readers of this blog will know that nothing in my life is ever simple. If I walk to the gas station to buy a Diet Coke, I am bound to be roped into conversation by some random stranger eager to tell me about the City of Urbana's housing bylaws in regards to porches (true story). If I go for a drive, there's a pretty good chance that I'll take a wrong turn and end up in the next state. If I go on a vacation to Turkey, it's nearly assured that I will end up using the phrase "but it said the massage parlour was non-sexual on the brochure!"

Yes, life in Arley-Ville is rarely straight-forward, though it's never dull. After all, if I'd had a straight-forward hip replacement, this blog would not exist. It's therefore no surprise that even though my second hip replacement is just getting underway, the level of pre-surgical ridiculousness has already reached epic proportions. This time, it wasn't even my hip making things difficult. No, this time, the problem lies in a little phenomenon known as "the anti ass."

I've written a lot (read: too much) about my anti-ass, which is my affectionate term for the fact that my absence of junk in the trunk means that I can't pedal on an exercise bike without wearing all the skin off my tailbone or sit on a hard surface without sustaining a remarkable level of bruising. (Reason #1564 why I'm still single. And, yes, I do realize that the fact that I have a pet name for my ass is probably Reason #1565).

A few days ago, I went for my pre-admission appointment at VGH. In this three-hour appointment, they run a bunch of tests and then you have meetings with the anesthesiologist and some nurses to make sure that everyone's ready for the big day. It's like a wedding rehearsal, but instead of in-depth conversations about what angle the bridesmaids will stand at, it's in-depth conversations about which surgical tape gives you blisters.

At first, I thought that everything was going well. I met the anesthesiologist and he gushed over the fact that my "anatomical structure is so accessible," which I decided to believe was anesthesiologist-speak for "nice ass," even though it really means "your back is so bony that finding the knobs of your spine will not require any educated guessing." Either way, I've decided that "Hey, baby. Did anyone ever tell you that your anatomical structure is really accessible?" is going to be my new go-to pick-up line. It'll replace my old pick-up line, which was "Uh....hi.....So....uh....like.....how're you?" Yup, that's me: making all the gentlemen swoon since 1982.

Anyhow, it looked as if my pre-op appointment was going to go off without a hitch. I met the pre-op nurses and we had a conversation that basically went "So...is there a way we can keep the post-surgical puking, fainting and skin blistering to a bare minimum?" Turns out that, yes, it is apparently possible to recover from surgery without re-enacting that scene from "The Exorcist." Good to know!

I was nearly out of there when the nurse asked the fateful question: "do you have any open wounds on your body at the moment?" Flash back to last weekend. I was in Montreal for work; (I'm a communications coordinator for the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships and part of my job is traveling to tournaments). The downside of my awesome job (wheelchair rugby is such a cool sport) is that I have to sit on hard bleachers and gym floors for 15 hours a day, which is not exactly anti-ass friendly. Long story short: I wore all the skin over my ass bones. (Do you think that a risk of pressure sores should entitle me to danger pay?)

Because knowing when to keep my mouth shut is never a strong suite of mine, I stupidly told the nurses about the pressure sores. Medical professionals are trained to treat everything as a worse-case scenario, so when you say "yeah, I've just got this small pressure sore because I sat on bleachers for work all weekend, but it will totally be cleared up by July 28th," they hear "Danger! Danger! Antibiotic-Resistant Staff Infection and Possible Blood Infection Causing The Removal of Your Artificial Hip!" I really need to learn to save the rambling for the blog.

The next day, I received a phone call from my surgeon's office. Because of the pressure sore, they can't do the surgery until a) I get a note from a doctor saying that the pressure sore is cleared up and b) my surgeon takes a look at my ass. Yes, that's right. Now, if I want this surgery, I will need to get two different medical professionals to visually inspect my anti-ass and give it the seal of approval. (Is it a bad sign that this is probably one of the only times my ass gets checked out?)

So, today, I took a little trip to the clinic to get my ass approved. (The excitement of my weekend really never ceases). I was worried that the doctor at the clinic would be really attractive, and I'd have to try to explain to him that I need him to get out his magnifying glass and go all Sherlock Holmes on my ass bruising to make sure that there's no broken skin. Luckily, however, I got an older Indo-Canadian woman, who thoroughly inspected the area and pronounced it surgery-ready. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my ass has been certified as top quality!

I thought I was going to get through the procedure embarrassment-free, (because, really, given the number of crackheads in the waiting room, I'm nearly positive that she had far worse open sores on her agenda that day), when I looked behind me while she was conducting her examination. Scrawled across my underwear in blue glitter were the words "HIGH FLIER." When getting dressed that day, I did not stop to think, "Hey, maybe I should wear a pair of underwear that is not ridiculous." Because, really, WTF does 'high flier' even mean? And who was sitting around a marketing meeting at Victoria Secret thinking up slogans to put on the ass of a pair of women's underwear and came up with "HIGH FLIER" as the pinnacle of sexiness? And why did I not notice this when I bought the underwear? Was there a point in my life when I was out shopping at thought, "Yes, this is exactly what I need to jump start my love life. Once men know that I am, indeed, flying high, they will be unable to resist my charms." (Reason #1567). These are the important life lessons I'm confronting today.

Okay, we're clearly in Too-Much-Information-Land. Long story short (...shorter...) the doctor wrote me the letter and gave me a lecture about how I should be carrying around an inflatable cushion wherever I go. But, see, here's the problem. There are certain decisions that are medically sound, but which will render you dateless for the rest of your natural life. I mean, what's better? To be known as "that chick with the ass cushion" or to have a rear end that looks like you were engaging in activities that require the use of a safety word (watermelon! Watermelon!)? At least the latter can be fixed with a dark bedroom, a little concealer, a whole lot of alcohol and the phrase "no, honey, I'm sure that's not bruising. It's probably just a trick of the light."

Anyhow, my ass has passed stage 1 to rendering it surgery-ready. Next stop: my poor proper British orthopedic surgeon has to inspect the area. I really need to learn when to keep my mouth shut.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

An Open Letter to Air Canada

Dear Air Canada/United,

I traveled on Flight 5150 from Chicago to Vancouver on June 14th. No, strike that. I attempted to travel on Flight 5150 on June 14th. I was 90 minutes into my three-hour drive from Champaign to Chicago when I received a phone call. Someone at Air Canada had spun the "Wheel of Travel Misfortunes" and my flight had landed on "cancellation" as opposed to just "endlessly delayed" or "staffed by boarding agents who are deeply offended that you asked them to waste a full 12 seconds of their time changing your seat to an aisle seat despite the fact that you have explained to them that you are sorry to bother them, but your recent surgery makes it impossible for you to sit in any other type of seat."

Well, damn. I was trying to get back to Canada for my grandma's funeral and did not want to spend another night getting my soul drained out of me by the great succubus known as the O'Hare International Airport, wind up getting further delayed the next day (because I'm pretty sure that if a flight ever leaves on time from O'Hare, there will be a full task force set up to discipline whatever eager beaver tried to make the rest of the flights look bad), and missing the service. I decided to go to O'Hare and seek my fortune. When I arrived to the United counter and found only 7 or 8 people in front of me (many of whom were in groups), I figured that Lady Luck had smiled down upon me. How long could it possibly take to serve 8 people?

Oh, 96 minutes, give or take a few excruciating seconds. As I waited, the woman in front of me (a former flight attendant) kept wondering aloud why it was that our flight was one of the only ones canceled. And how was it possible that an 8:30 pm flight to Vancouver could be canceled because of weather when an 8:20 flight to Seattle was running? And how could it be "weather-related" when it was sunny in Vancouver (she phoned to check) and sunny in Chicago? The plane, she said, begins its journey in Chicago, so it couldn't have been delayed from another airport. All excellent questions! And all questions I tried to ask to the boarding agent. For my efforts, I earned several eye-rolls, a side-eye, and the phrase "it's weather-related" repeated with varying degrees of apathy/sulleness. No explanation. No elaboration. Not even a "sorry your whole day has been ruined by some random decision made by someone thousands of miles away." It was like talking to that Eliza/Alize psychologist emulation program.

After ninety minutes of standing, I was already sore and cranky. I did, however, get on a flight to Seattle with the intention of traveling the next day to Vancouver. I grabbed a hotel (thank you, Hotwire!) and got a few hours of sleep, then woke up groggy thinking, "Well, at least it's just a quick flight to Vancouver. How bad can it be?"

Now, keep in mind that traveling with a hip replacement is already pretty ridiculous. For the rest of my life, I'm going to have to arrive at airports an extra 20 - 30 minutes ahead of other people, so that the good ladies at Homeland Security can give me the special pat-down grope-fest. Multiply that over a lifetime, that probably translates into an extra week of my life where I'm subjected to the phrase "Now, I'm going to use the back of my hand to clear the breast area." (As if my cleavage was a highway in Afghanistan that needed to be swept for mines!) And that doesn't include the fact that airports (with all their walking, standing and sitting in uncomfortable positions) are not exactly "hip friendly."

I therefore do not need any more meaningless standing in line, and I especially did not need to stand in the "line" that greeted me at the United counter in Seattle, which was less a "line" and more of "a throng of people struggling to print their tickets off a row of broke-down boarding kiosks, while two agents randomly appeared at different kiosks at different times, so that tracking them down was like one of those video games where the zombies appear and you have to shoot them without hitting the innocent bystanders, except instead of "zombies" it was "boarding agents trying to go on break" and instead of "innocent bystanders" it was "similarly dressed boarding-agent underlings who do not have the power to help you and will scold you not to 'speak in a big voice' if you try to talk to them over the din of other shouting people" and instead of "shooting them," you have to "shove your passport in their general direction while pleading for help." I'm sorry, but bread lineups in Soviet Russia were run with less chaos.

After 30 minutes of trying to foist my passport on whomever would help me (spoiler alert: no one), a nice agent finally took pity on me. I explained to her that I was standing in the line in the first place because the self-check-in machine was freaking out about my itinerary change and wouldn't let me check in. The problem that Air Canada had made for me yesterday had spawned little baby problems, which because of the general understaffing and over-chaos-ing had turned into big problems, since I was in danger of missing my flight. The nice agent was sympathetic and literally 3 seconds later, I was booked. Yes, that thirty minutes of standing, jostling and passport waving was to correct a problem that could have been fixed in the time it took for the person on the other end of the customer-service phones by the self-check-in kiosk to say, "You'll need to talk to an agent in person."

I thought my problems were over. I thought I would board the 30-minute flight to Vancouver and be done with it. I, however, had underestimated Air Canada's incredible appetite for the ridiculousness. Five minutes before I was set to board my plane to Vancouver, my flight was again mysteriously canceled. Why? Never found out. Maybe the numerology of the flight number was off. Maybe a monkey drew a number from a hat. Maybe the pilot was watching an episode of "Maury" that was really heating up and he couldn't bear to leave without finding out which one of 10 guys was the baby daddy. I will never know. I do know, however, that I was transferred on to a different airline's flight, which was leaving in 15 minutes from a gate across the airport.

Another passenger and I therefore ran (well, she ran, I gimped at a fast pace) through the various modes of transportation needed to navigate the Seattle airport. It was like an episode of "The Amazing Race," except instead of winning a million dollars, we won exactly what we had already paid for. When we got to the new gate, there were no tickets waiting for us because the agent hadn't called ahead, but somehow (miraculously!) after some confusion and more boarding-agent ennui, we got on the plane and landed in Vancouver.

Now, I have said in the past that I will never again fly Air Canada. I said it after you refused to let me gate-check my basketball wheelchair. I said it one of the million times someone was rude to me. I said it after you tore a gaping hole in my bag on a flight to Paris, then spent a full year losing the bag in different "repair departments" and directing me to increasingly snarky customer service representatives until the window for getting compensation had expired. But now, Air Canada, I mean it. You and I are done. Going from Chicago to Vancouver should not require me to spend 36 hours of my life trapped inside a Kafka novel. I am taking my business to West Jet, where they're at least friendly whenever they have to inconvenience you.

Sincerely,

- Arley

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Here's to Skinner the Sinner

It's a sad day around these parts. On Friday, my Nana Elsie died of kidney failure and complications of dementia at the age of 90. In a one-two punch to our family, her brother (who I called Uncle Hugh) died unexpectedly just a few hours later. My grandma was one of my heroes because, well, she was the ultimate bad-ass. How bad-ass? When I was four, my other grandma was visiting us and asked me what my Nana Elsie would like for her upcoming birthday. My answer: "Whiskey. Lots and lots of whiskey."

It's hard to write a blog post about my grandma without entering dangerously into Hallmark territory, so I've decided to fall back on that old standard of business writing designed to convey information quickly and effectively: the bullet point list. So here, then, is a list of reasons my grandma was awesome:

  • Once wrote her memoirs, which I (at the tender age of 12) was tasked with transcribing, since I was the only one who knew her way around those newfangled "personal computers." The "memoir" turned out to be more of a "detailed account of her sexual history," and I was forever traumatized by her use of the phrase "mad Russian love."
  • Would begin every family dinner by reciting various dirty rhymes, which she picked up when she lived with her first husband in mining camps. Her favorite was about Skinner the Sinner....who took his best girl out to dinner....at a quarter past nine, he looked at the time....at a quarter to ten it was in her....the dinner, not Skinner. He'd had it in before dinner. The sinner!
  • Once got drunk, hopped up on stage in Reno, and recited "Skinner the Sinner" in front of hundreds of patrons and her three very embarrassed sons.
  • Another go-to poetry favourite was called "It was Cold" and contained such phrases as "cold as the tip of a polar bear's tool" and "cold as the kiss of a whore when she cums."
  • Used to ride her exercise bike a few miles every day. I have never seen her so mad as when I started riding her bike backwards, thus disturbing her mileage count.
  • Caught gigantic fish.
  • Was a union shop steward when working at a pulp and paper mill. Had various service awards from the NDP.
  • Contracted and recovered from polio. (I guess this isn't so much an 'awesome thing my grandma did' but an example of 'shit she overcame').
  • Used to go down into the mines with her first husband, despite the fact that this was considered bad luck by the other miners.
  • Was the adopted grandma to several of my friends, who fondly remember her with phrases such as "your grandma tried to give me her underwear" or "your grandma taught me that 'cat' was spelled 's-h-i-t.'"
  • Made the most delicious bread and cinnamon buns. I have fond memories of eating raw bread dough covered in cinnamon and sugar. She also did her own canning and made her own soap.
  • At 80, had a better dating life than I did, at 17. ("My grandma gets more play than I do" is not a phrase you ever want to use). When she broke up with one paramour, she told him to "stick his d*ck up his a**h*** and f*ck himself," which is probably the best f*ck you I've ever heard.
  • Once drove through Mexico with my grandpa. They were aiming for Tijuana, but ended up driving for days before phoning my dad to say that they were lost. They hadn't found "Ti-a-wanna,' even though they had passed this "Ti-joo-ana' place awhile back.
  • Had the most high-pitched, glass-shattering voice. I have distinct memories of being on stage at Christmas concerts/ piano recitals etc. and hearing "that's my granddaughter up there!"
You see? I could really go on and on. So here's to Skinner the Sinner. And here's to my grandma, Elsie Margaret McNeney.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's the Final Countdown...No, Just Kidding, Psyche!

For the past few months, I've been preparing to move back to Vancouver. (Well, okay, preparing mentally, since I haven't really done the whole "packing" thing yet, even though my dad comes to get my car tomorrow). I had wrapped my mind around the fact that I would leave Champaign on June 14th, then have surgery on June 24th. You know how advent calendars give you a little chocolate every day until Christmas? Well, I had a little surgery advent calendar in my mind, except instead of getting chocolate, all I got was iron pills and an overwhelming sense of dread.

This morning, however, my world was rocked when I received a phone call from my surgeon's office letting me know that my surgery has been bumped to July 28th. It was like opening that last day of your advent calendar expecting a huge-ass chocolate Santa and instead finding a little piece of paper that said, "Christmas has been moved to January 27th. In lieu of chocolate Santa, please accept another month of anticipation and mall Christmas carols." Wrong and unnatural!

On one hand, I was disappointed. Leaving Champaign has actually been really hard for me, but I've had my goodbye party, said farewell to most of my friends, and reconciled myself to ripping off that big bandaid known as "the last four years of my life." I've spent weeks full of emo-ness mentally reenacting that scene from Thorton Wilder's "Our Town" where the chick is a ghost and is lamenting all the things she'll miss about earth ("Goodbye world! Goodbye to clocks ticking and my butternut tree...and Mama's sunflowers...food and coffee...and new-ironed dresses and hot baths..." ), except instead of clocks ticking and butternut trees, it was more like cheap bourbon, barbeque, $250 rent and fireflies. (I freaking love fireflies. They don't have them in Vancouver). I was mentally prepared to leave and I wanted to get the ass-reattachment show on the road.

On the other hand, however, I recognized an opportunity to cling harder to America. Even though my bags were packed, my apartment was sublet (subletted?), my dad was flying down to get my car and my cat had her own little kitty airplane ticket, I didn't have to leave. I could go up to Canada for a week for pre-op appointments and work-related stuff, (I'm off to Montreal soon for a tournament), then come back down for a whole month of rekindling my turbulent romance with the old U. S. of A. America and I could have one of those relationships where it's like "Oh, darling, I know we broke up because you cheated on me with my sister, but let's get back together because I'm lonely and have daddy issues, even though we both know that this will end badly. Turbulent relationships give my humdrum existence meaning!" You know, those people for whom the Facebook status "it's complicated" was invented.

Some might say, "But Arley. Aren't you just prolonging the inevitable? Why don't you just get it over with, move back to Vancouver and begin the chapter of your life entitled 'The Part Where Arley Goes to Concerts By Herself and Tries to Appear Both Receptive to New Friendships And Repellent to Drug Dealers/ Fetishists/ Men Who Believe "So, What's Wrong With You?" is an Acceptable Pick-Up Line'' Wouldn't that be the mature thing to do?" To you, I say: hells no. I have spent at least six months of the past year in bed (or at physio, being out-run by 95-year-olds, which is worse) and I am about to spend another god-knows-how-long doing roughly the same thing. I'm in a "months of bedrest" sandwich and I fully intend to make the filling of that sandwich be as exciting, entertaining and meaningful as possible. And if that means traveling back to Champaign for an extra month of seeing the people I care about...well....so be it.

Yes, it looks like I'm going to have to rebook my ticket on the Struggletown Express. The new plan is that I'm leaving Mika with A., going back to Canada for a week or so, (which will involve a trip to Montreal), then returning to Champaign for a month of couch-surfing, BBQ-eating, and hearing the phrase "hey, didn't you leave here a while ago?" from random people on the street. Because, hey, if my life wasn't relentlessly complicated, I wouldn't have anything to blog about.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It's Not You, It's Me: The Breaking Up With America Deportation Extravaganza

In just over a week, Mika and I will be going back to Vancouver and I'm not the only one who's having a hard time being optimistic about the move. Mika has somehow figured out that we're leaving (more proof that she secretly speaks English) and is acting out. Case in point: last night. While A. and I were watching "Dead Ringers," Mika got inspired and unleashed her inner David Cronenberg by killing and snacking on a baby bunny, dragging it in through my window, and depositing it on my living-room rug right as the movie was getting all "heroin-and-bizarre-gynacological-instruments"-y. That night, she kept me up from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. meowing and biting my chin. When I finally let her out, she packed her kitty bags and ran away to A.'s house, where she broke in through an open window and refused to leave. Yes, it looks like there's a little feline-shaped seat on the Struggle Train. At least she's not acting out by smoking crack behind the 7-11.

But while Mika's been throwing cat-tantrums, I've been trying to make the most of my final weeks in Champaign-Urbana. My original plan was to say 'yes' to every social opportunity, though I had to tweak this plan a little when someone rather strenuously offered me meth at a BBQ (not even once! Not. Even. Once). There have been too many highlights to mention (Kimberly, Erin C. and I rocking Allerton Park by posing beside every statue of a half-naked man, half-naked centaur, unintentionally suggestive Chinese musician, or Fu Dog; the Room 248 Reunion Party; randomly deciding to purchase and eat a large cake with LeFevs, Shelley and Donnie in a campus bar while drinking the world's nastiest $3 margarita), but the main event was "It's Not You, It's Me: The Breaking Up With America Deportation Extravaganza and Dance Party."

Though the name was long and egotistical, my goodbye party was really just a chance for me to hang out at The Esquire with people I might not see again. And you know what? Even though I have a semi-detached ass, a wonky hip, and a one-way ticket back to Canada, I have fantastic, fantastic friends. Erin C. made me an awesome cake based on the "Hark, A Vagrant!" web comic and bought me three cards: a retirement card for my Freaky Cyborg Hip; a "congratulations on getting re-attached" card for my ass; and a general card for me. (There are good friends, and then there are good friends awesome enough to buy you a card for your ass). Erin McQ bought me flowers and tons of other people contributed to my mission of getting sappily drunk on bourbon (mission accomplished). It was great to see all the 20+ people who showed up to help me break up with America, even though knowing what good friends I have in the Midwest will make it extra hard to leave.

Next stop on the Struggletown Express: figuring out how the hell I'm going to pack four years worth of stuff into one PT Cruiser.