An experience I could have done without

I managed to fracture my left tibia and fibula on Saturday night. This is the post I wrote about it on Facebook.

As mentioned yesterday, I was a guide for a Halloween Journey at my friends’ kids’ school last night. I looked super-cute and made the fortunate decision to wear my lace-up, over the ankle,Ariat riding boots. I truly think they kept things from being worse. The Journey had 7 “scenes” representing places around the world and traveled over the school grounds, which is set along the mountain-side. This means the terrain was of varying levels and somewhat rough. I had finished the Journey and people were traveling down a hill to the “Reform Club” at the bottom. A woman in my group slipped in a muddy patch, and went down hard on her butt. The only thing hurt was her dignity, but I said that I would go stand above that patch and direct people away from it. As I made my way around the patch, back up the hill, my feet slid out from under me and I landed hard on my right side, facing down the hill. As I hit the ground, I heard an unfortunately-familiar sound, “CRACK!” and felt sharp pain around my left ankle. I’ve broken bones before and I knew what had happened.

There was much screaming and gasping in pain from me and people immediately rallied to help me. At one point, I almost passed out, with voices and vision fading and blurring, but they got me laying down on the ground and that helped a lot. Turns out, I was blessed enough to have two doctors in my group: a female gynecologist and a male foot surgeon/podiatrist (? a foot doctor of some sort). They were assessing me, and did a lot to reassure me. Someone called 911 and thankfully Kona Community Hospital is about 2 minutes down the hill from the school. An ambulance was there soon, but then came the challenge of getting me to the gurney at the bottom. They put a box split around my lower left leg, and the two attendants plus my friend Eric carried my top half, while at least one, possibly two, people carried the left leg so no weight was pulling down on my heel. The attendants were awesome, and so was everyone who helped me (I only remember the name Ally because Julie told it to me later). Per the EMT, I look much younger than 40, by the way.:)   I kept it together for the most part in the ambulance and all the way through the ER. My nurses were lovely, so kind and very careful not to hurt me as they got me half-undressed, ran an IV and started giving me drugs while getting the intake information.Shout out to Alecia the travelling nurse!

I had some morphine before the X-ray (always ask for the anti-nausea drug at the same time! I didn’t get sick at all!), and they eased off my left boot with less pain than I expected. The laces on the boot got cut, but the boot itself came off relatively easily. It had helped to contain the swelling on that side, and based on where the break was, I think it helped direct the fracture and keep it from pushing out. X-rays confirmed that my tibia and fibula both had clean fractures (above the ankle and below the knee respectively), and I was put into this odd split. It stated out as long strips of fabric that were wrapped around the base of my foot and up the sides, then another one was put… somewhere I don’t remember. The whole deal was surrounded by ace bandages to halfway up my thigh, and I was encouraged to make sure my knee had a slight, natural bend. The fabric got warmer and I could feel it expand and contract. By the time they released me, it was hard and very heavy. Pretty cool! Julie had stayed with me in the ER, but then went to pick up my car from the parking lot, and came to get me. Yay for the RAV4 with a backseat that allowed me to stretch out in it!

To wrap up the rest: the Z’s got me home, and after I lost it (finally) while they tried to figure out how best to help me, they gave me some space and ended up going back to the hospital to get me adult-size crutches as it turned out their daughter’s crutches were too short. I am now working on how to move around without putting any weight on the leg, keep the leg elevated while resting, and not wince too much when some movement makes the bones shift inside the splint. Also, I’ve had periods of extreme sweatiness come and go. I hope to see the ortho specialist within the next day or two, and that she will say I don’t need surgery.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Observations from Kona

I’ve been here 2.5 weeks now and though I haven’t been out and about a ton (darn work), I’ve started noticing some things I want to share.

1. People like to be nose-out in their parking spaces. This is not just tourists bringing hometown habits here, it’s definitely locals too. I have no idea why people do this (my dad has done it for years), but I’m seeing it in many parking lots.

2. At sunset, you’ll find locals and tourists alike parking alongside the road, in a parking a lot, or on the beach, stopping to appreciate the sunset. It’s a sight to behold, so it’s well worth doing, wherever you happen to be.

3. A bikini top or swimsuit is a perfectly acceptable alternative to a foundation garment, and many times more comfortable. 🙂 I really like this one.

4. While Hawai’i is ahead of many states in their complete ban of plastic bags in shops, and they use a LOT of wind/solar power, they don’t have an easy way for recycling other than for bottles (glass and plastic) and cans. They have a 5 cent redemption rate for bottles and cans, but I haven’t seen any bins to recycle paper and other forms of plastic. After some research, I’ve found that there are places who will take those types of items for recycling, but you must drop it off. It’s not like the Bay Area where a recycling company provides bins at your home and picks them up.

5. As mentioned, I haven’t been out a lot, but I haven’t seen any speed limits above 55. I’m okay with that. The slower lifestyle is a big draw for me, and considering the views that are available from many of my local roads, I prefer that people drive a bit slower so they don’t distracted at higher speeds.

6. Kona has a built in method for making sure you don’t hide yourself away on your electronics all day. Each weekday afternoon, I have to shut down my laptop around 2 p.m. if not earlier, because it’s getting too hot between the temps inside my condo and the numbers of hours the computer has been on. Today I had to put my cell phone on a chilled bag that is usually used for muscle inflammation, to cool down the phone battery so it could charge. It had only been in direct sunlight for about a half hour, but it had been outside on my lanai table as the sun moved towards it for a good 2 hours.

I’ve unpacked most of my belongings, and am feeling more settled, but now I’m off to run errands including the bank and picking up some basics like cotton balls and small trash bags. Oh, and food. I’m trying to implement a practice I thought of on the mainland which is to buy fresh food twice a week, so I don’t rely too much on packaged, processed stuff by the end of the week. Yes, I’m still buying pre-made salads, but those are made up of fresh food, and they are generally only good for 2-3 days beyond the purchase date so I can’t buy a week’s worth of salads at once. I’m also going to augment my pre-made salads with a salad mix from local farmers, so I can get a larger salad with more greens in it. The added benefit is supporting the local economy. 🙂

Tonight is my stint as a guide on the Halloween Journey at Kona Pacific Public Charter School, and I’m fairly sure I’ve managed to do a rote memorization of my lines. There aren’t many, and I’m taking my flashcards just in case. We’re going “Around the World in 80 Days”, and I’m really looking forward to it. I hope you have a very spooky night!

The first 10 days

Kona Transport delivering my personal possessions
Kona Transport delivering my personal possessions

I’ve now been in my new home for 10 days, and I’m feeling pretty good about the whole thing, Hurricane Ana notwithstanding. Yes, we experienced a hurricane this weekend, but it’s path veered leeward and the Big Island didn’t get more than wind and lots of rain. Where I am really only got rain, and we weren’t bothered by wind or damage to property.

Let’s go back a bit, shall we? This was the week that I started working remotely and it was… challenging. Nothing to do with my move, other than trying to catch up on everything that happened last week. My employer had been acquired as of mid-September, and last weekend was when the people and technology were moved into the new company. That created some technical difficulties that had to be sorted out and worked out. Some of them still aren’t fixed, but we’ll have to deal. Thankfully, some of those issues will die a natural death when we switch over completely to the new company’s systems in another 2-3 weeks, but until then I need to hustle to keep up. My work hours are running approximately 6 a.m. HST – 3 p.m. HST, brief break for a swim to bring down my body temp (sometimes this occurs as early as 1 p.m.) and then back online for an hour or two. I haven’t really established a “life” here, so it’s not like I have a ton of social engagements to take me away from the work. Also, it’s a huge relief to not spend 1.5 – 2 hours commuting on a daily basis, and I can put those hours into work without being completely exhausted. Thursdays are brutal, as I have to be up at 3:40 a.m. or so for a 4 a.m. conference call and my day still goes until about 3 p.m.

One thing I do need to get to work on is regular exercise, and the other is eating clean. I used to have regular walking dates twice a week with girlfriends, and a weekly visit to my trainer (miss you Cyndi!). I don’t have that here, and since I start work so early, I don’t have the opportunity to go for a walk before it gets hots in the morning. As for the food thing, I had a routine of food that I would buy at Trader Joe’s and Fresh and Easy. Since those stores don’t exist here, I have to adjust my shopping and determine what the replacements will be. I’ve had some junk recently that I generally don’t indulge in, but I’ve made an effort to include salads, fruits and veggies. The strawberry papaya and avocado that I had for lunch on Friday were so good! Oh, and I’m eating more “meals” due to the weird hours: my breakfast shake at 6 a.m., second breakfast between 9 and 10 a.m., lunch around 1 p.m. and dinner about 6 p.m. As long as I can keep the meals small, I should be okay with that schedule.

I had dinner with an existing friend on Tuesday night, which was fantastic as I hadn’t been able to see him when I was out here in August. Catching up with him, sitting on the balcony at Humpy’s, listening to the pub trivia and enjoying a very tasty “True Hawaiian pizza” with kalua pork, garlic and pineapple was a fun experience. I may try going back for the trivia night, I used to be pretty good at that sort of thing. On Thursday night I made a new friend, introduced to me by Julie, when the three of us met for Happy Hour at Sam Choy’s. A note about Happy Hour: I’ve been told that the hours have been changing at various places, shortening and ending earlier (i.e. 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Huggo’s ). Conjecture is that this is so that only the tourists can take advantage as the locals have jobs that don’t allow them to make the hours. I’m not sure if this is accurate, but I’m glad that I work from home, on mainland hours, so that I can go Kenichi Pacific for half-price sushi rolls! So, Thursday night at Sam Choy’s was we three women, and we had a great time. I love the marinated poke and the brie wonton. Ono grinds! We laughed, talked, shared and made future plans to get together. I am now going to a burlesque show at My Bar on November 8, which should be fantastic.

Hurricane Ana was still a Tropical Storm on Thursday and Friday, but I was rather nervous since I had no idea what to expect. I did buy two cases of water, a 10-pack of Longboard Lager and a 6 pack of toilet paper, plus assorted other food items. I figure I covered the most important stuff. 🙂 I made it out to a new doctor appointment Friday morning, and got established with a nearby nurse practitioner. She’s lovely and I’ll probably see her for most of my care. The irritating thing is that the endocrinologist I will be referred to is based in Honolulu and I’ll likely have to fly there to see him for my new patient visit. He only visits Kona twice a month, and he doesn’t have an opening here until February. *sigh* Definite downside to a small island. Early Friday evening, a handful of us were at the pool and it was great to start connecting with my neighbors as a resident. We all shuddered over the cockroaches and compared stories. It’s a good thing I’m not inclined toward pets, as I’ve learned that cats tend to catch and bring roaches into the house, and will drop them on your bed. While you are in it! The lanai chairs and umbrella were pulled in Friday evening, and I made sure that the louvers of the windows near my work desk were closed, as well as pulling the desk away from the windows and moving my laptops elsewhere. Stayed up entirely too late reading and listening to the rain, which started out sporadic and light, and continued throughout the night and into today, becoming fairly heavy at times. I don’t know why but I didn’t sleep well last night, after a week of sleeping wonderfully on the gel-foam mattress pad (absolutely worth the $170!). Maybe it was the heat, humidity or even the noise of the rain on the roof, something I’m not used to anymore. By late Friday night, we had word that Ana was officially a Hurricane but was veering more leeward and we could still expect a lot of rain and wind. I have since heard that further mauka (towards the mountain) was pretty windy as well as rainy, but makai (towards the ocean) we had mostly just rain.

Today was spent piddling about the house and reading some more. I do have a to-do list and I must work on it tomorrow since I lagged today. Having a rainy day made lazy curling up inside much more appealing, but I can only let myself do it for one day. Tomorrow is the start of a new week and I have lots to do, including backing up my phone so I can get a new one that has a better camera so I can take gorgeous sunset photos. I’ll be editing this post to add a photo from Friday afternoon, but I need to do that backup first to pull the photo from my phone. Stay tuned friends!

Acclimating

Ooof. I’m tired, my body aches and is covered in dried sweat, I’m itchy in too many places and have multiple welts from bug bites. Also, I’m fairly sure my credit card is smoking from the workout it’s gotten the last couple of days. All in all, a successful first few days, but tomorrow starts the true test: when I start acting like I live here, and working remotely. Vacation is over!

I spent half of Wednesday traveling, and was picked up by Eric and Julie. They gave me the lowdown on the events for the weekend, and we made plans to have dinner that night. In the afternoon, I set about unpacking and making my condo livable, which included a trip up to the KTA for essentials, coffee creamer and a six-pack of Longboard Lager included. A quick swim in the afternoon helped bring down my body temperature, and I’m going to try and make that a habit while I can. I missed the first night’s sunset but we did go up to Bianelli’s for some stellar pizza. I can’t go back there too often, or I’ll need to buy some new clothes. It’s good to know they offer slices-to-go, however! Had my first, “omigoddes, there’s a cockroach IN my house!” experience, and we declared a detente when I couldn’t smack him and he crawled into the grooves of the wood vaulted ceiling. I went to bed fairly early because my body was (and still is) on Pacific time, but slept poorly due to the new surroundings, a very firm mattress and general body discomfort.

Thursday morning I was up bright and early, before the sun, which should be the norm for a while. I was able to locate the cockroach and scoop him outside before he died in the house. Plans had changed a bit, but I was on the road by about 7:30 to go pick up my car, which went smoothly. If you have the opportunity to ship your car to the Big Island, and you are on the West Coast, use Hawaii Car Transport. They ship into Kawaihae, which is maybe an hour north of Kona, and they only charge $1075 from Oakland, which is cheaper than Matson. There is a ship sailing weekly on Wednesdays, and the pick up was very smooth. Customer Service was terrific, and there’s a gas station fairly close to fill that tank back up, which needs to be at 1/4 full or less when you drop it off. I piddled around for the rest of the morning, got in a brief swim in the afternoon and hit the KTA with coupons, and the BOH there with a deposit. Again, great customer service at both places. You WILL pay more for food/beverage here due to the high cost of transport, so expect it. I picked up some dinner at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue (much bigger selection than on the mainland, including burgers/fries, breakfast and musubi options), and started eating it while sitting on a lava wall at the top of my street, watching the sun set. Another early night to bed, and yes, I sweated and woke up frequently.

Friday was the day I planned to get stuff accomplished, and I mostly did. Throughout the day I did laundry, a couple of hours of work email, checked FB numerous times, and started my credit card workout at Walmart, Target and Sports Authority. I needed to pick up such essentials as shorts (which I haven’t owned in more years that I can remember), shortie pajamas (long pants aren’t cutting it), slippahs (aka flip-flops), and additional swimsuits. I did wander downtown in the morning to check out the activity and had to continually check to make sure I wasn’t openly drooling at all the very fit athletes training in the area. This occurred on Saturday too, I’m ashamed to admit. I did manage to pick up a cute Ironman visor in Ironman Village, which I was very grateful for the next day. There was actually rain in the late afternoon/evening, which I thoroughly enjoyed, as I’m from drought-stricken California and I sorely miss the rain. It also brought the temps down, which was a relief as it’s been in the high-80s this week.

So, Saturday. Epic, amazing, incredible, exhausting, inspiring. Any of those words would do to describe the experience of volunteering at an Aid Station. I got there with Eric and Devin about 11:30; the aid station was one sponsored by Devin’s school so the volunteers were parents, kids and others associated with the school. They’ve been doing this for years, I believe, and they have it down. I felt a bit guilty for arriving when we did and immediately sitting down with a plate lunch, but I was ever so grateful that I had when I finally left 6 hours later. Those volunteers work HARD. I spent most of the time from about 12:30 to 5:30 standing in the middle of the road, among the caution cones, holding out cups of water, calling out “water, water”, squatting to pick up fresh cups and repeating. It’s a very specific stance, since you want the athletes to be able to grab the cup off the flat of your palm on their way past, and not spill it. We had cups of ice, Perform (a fitness drink), cola, red bull, water and chicken broth, half bananas, orange slices, gel or “Gu”. We were on both sides of the lane since we were stationed right at the turnaround point, so we’d have the athletes come up one side and pass us again on the other. It didn’t always work like that, as in the early hour they might head back to the side where they originally got their treat, but when we got to the point where there were athletes in both directions, it all worked out. The athletes themselves were completely amazing. You could tell the pros in the beginning, and those who have done a lot of these: they kept a steady stride, called out for what they needed, signaled if they acknowledged your call and were going to take your offering, and SO MANY took the breath to say “thank you.” That’s the part that surprised and humbled me. These people have already swam 2.6 ocean miles, ridden a bike 112 miles and run a little over 5 miles by the time they got to us. And they still had the presence of mind to spare a precious breath to say thank you. There were a lovely couple of tourists standing near me, for most of about 4 hours, who took lots of photos with camera and iPod, and they frequently stepped in between athletes and picked up the cups that were dropped on the ground. They weren’t volunteers, I’m fairly sure they weren’t American, and they just stepped up to help when they noticed it was needed. The energy of the volunteers was sustained pretty high, we cheered the athletes as they came by, they were announced on a speaker, there was music from the radio station playing through that speaker, we were constantly reminded to hydrate, and we were there for them. Personally, I didn’t want to stop because I was so inspired. I saw professionals, amateurs, amputees, many nationalities, fit bodies, not so fit bodies, runners, walkers, smiles, grim determination and sheer, unrelenting focus. At 5:30 p.m. I finally called it quits because my friends had left earlier for another engagement and I wanted to walk the mile home before the sun set. I slogged my way home with my booty of a dirty Kokua Crew t-shirt and plastic Ironman bag filled with 5 oranges and two large bottles of water, my hair slung back in a hasty pony tail because my cute top-buns had fallen out fairly early, and a smile in my heart. I was definitely in bed early after a hasty shower.

Today, I started my island life, which meant a bit of lounging with coffee in the morning followed by errands. Up to the Kings Shops in Waikaloa for some proper slippahs with orthopedic support from The Walking Company (computer-assisted fitting!), membership at Costco plus a gel-foam mattress pad, a new desk, chair and reading lamp from Target (those got put together tonight with a lot of sweating and some swearing), and a run to Wal-mart for some hair do-dads to keep my hair out of my face. Oh, and a stop at Safeway for some proper salads and such, since my kitchen gear won’t get here for about a week. Right now, my desk is all set up with my work stuff, ready for tomorrow morning, and I’ve been typing this out on my lanai, with a Kona Brewing Company Big Wave Golden Ale keeping me company.

Unfortunately, 5:30 a.m. will come way too soon, so I’m going to log off and go hose down.before crawling onto my (hopefully) soft mattress pad and sleeping the sleep of the just. Welcome to Kona!

Aid StationAid Station 5 at the Kailua Kona Ironman 2014

Leavin’ on a jet plane

[Ed. note: this post was hand-written in my Hawaii notebook on Oct 8]

Sitting in the boarding area for Gate 11 in Kahului Maui (Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t fly direct from San Jose to Kona, and I used miles to buy my one-way ticket), almost at the end of this stage of my journey. When I step off my next flight, it will be as a resident of Kailua Kona, Hawaii, and my journey will continue in a new direction.

The last week has been fairly emotional. I realize and accept that I am a bit of a soft touch, but I think many people would be affected the same way when saying “good bye” to so many people. As much as possible, I tried (and succeeded) to see the people who are most important to me. There were definitely tears, then. Saying good bye to the various pieces of my family was heart-wrenching. Overall, I have cried tears of loss but in a somewhat restrained manner. I fully expect to lose it tonight. And that’s okay. I am embarking on new adventure and my life will never be the same (cliche alert!). While I do expect to see my family and friends again, I will do so as a different person and I plan to do a bit of mourning for our current relationships.

[Ed. note: I absolutely had 3 glasses of champagne on my last flight, and just inhaled a rather large Longboard at the Maui Snack Bar. Let’s be grateful I didn’t also take advantage of the half-price shot.]

My friend Eric will pick me up in Kona and we will travel through the madness that is “pre-Ironman”. I’m already hearing about traffic and delays caused by athletes out training. I have a volunteer assignment on Saturday and possibly another on Friday night. Picking up my car will occur Thursday morning after the famous “Underwear Run” (Iron-athletes in their skivvies? Yes, please! And bring on the locals and tourists to help celebrate!) I’m hoping that being thrown into local events will help stave off disorientation and homesickness. Also, it should be a lot of fun! What a fantastic experience in which to be involved!

Should be boarding in a few minutes, so I’ll close for now. Mahalo for following along!