Saturday, February 23, 2013

My First Hospital Visit: also known as 'Don't Break a Leg'

Up until last Friday night, the last time I was in the hospital was the day I was born (well, correction, three months after I was born, since I lived there for the first three months of my life, as a super-mini person weighing 2lbs, 5 ounces (that's 907 grams)). I have feverishly avoided hospitals since, never played sports when I was younger so I wouldn't get hurt, and maintained a healthy lifestyle. And then...Friday night happened.  Four years of training in Martial arts, running training and yoga, 10 day hiking trips and years of going to the gym, but KICKBOXING breaks my leg. -

It was an intra-team match in preparation for Varsity (Oxford vs. Cambridge), so not even an actual competition! The last 20 seconds of the last girls' round finals, and I kick someone's leg, WAY too hard. So much for shin guards, Blitz sports. I much prefer my MMA shinguards that were WAY longer, but they had metal hooks and weren't allowed for safety here. The most ironic part? My new headguard and kickboxing outfit arrived on Monday. Ugh. One comfort is that I wouldn't have got to fight at Varsity anyway, since Cambridge only has one girl fighter (we have 7!) who is way heavier than me (65 kg).  Anyway, feel free to skip the next bit if you like, but I will take you on a mini journey of what NOT to do in case you break a limb (which I hope, whoever you are, you never do. Incredibly painful).

Don't Underestimate the AGONIZINGLY Long Emergency Room Times

SEVEN HOURS. (Arrival time: 10pm)

Triage (where they check if you have a shaving cut or head trauma and put you in order of severity) is supposed to happen within 15 minutes of arrival. It took 1.5 hours. Oh, and meanwhile, there is a Stephen King-like horror show going on in front of you, where people are being wheeled in hospital trolleys looking half-dead, teenagers are bleeding from the head, psychiatric patients are running away from nurses and policemen, and people drunk and dripping with blood come in (I wish I were making those examples up).

Waiting for an x-ray (we thought it was just a bruise): 1 hour
X-ray: 30 mins
Waiting for a doctor to see the xray and say "yes, it's broken where the nurse said it was broken":  4.5 hours. Thank you to Jamie from kickboxing who patiently waiting beside me all night. 

By this time, my very awesome family from Kent had driven two hours, in the middle of the night, to meet me at the hospital in Oxford. 

Getting a temporary cast that was below the knee: 0.5 hours and a lot of pain
So, at 6 in the morning, Uncle Steve, Aunty Viniti and I went to let Kiara out (poor girl, who was expecting me back after two hours of kickboxing the night before)

Waiting for next appointment at "trauma unit": 2.5 hours
EXCRUCIATINGLY painful appointment to put the cast on: 1.5 hours.  Laughing gas helped a little (was like an insane weed high but with bits of pain seeping through); nothing has even been more painful. The nurse assured me this was nothing, being in labour would be. 

Note to self: Reason # 1 billion why never to have kids.

So by 11 am, we were at my place in Oxford.
By 12 noon, my parents (who coincidently had arrived at Heathrow that morning to visit my grandma), took the bus to Oxford rather than Kent

By 1:30pm, my family had convinced me there was no way I could take care of myself, let alone Kiara, with a leg cast going from my thigh to toes.  SO much codine and it just wouldn't stop.

By 7pm that evening, I was in Kent and Kiara was at Ineta's house (Top Dog Training School), where I can see pictures of her daily.

At least NHS treatment was free.

Don't Be Alone

Kiara @ Ineta's : I miss you, puppy!

For someone who hates doctor smells, can't stand sitting still, and is always busy, this is a terribly lonely experience. It's been seven days of get up, take absolutely forever to get dressed and sponge-showered, let other people help me prepare food (so frustrating), Skype into classes and keep my leg elevated. So basically, sit on my computer, uncomfortably trying to work and not having any fresh air. Thank goodness for Whats'app, Facebook and friends and family who stop by. I miss my puppy!

Don't Hold the Crutches Wrong! (ugh, hand cramps)

How NOT to gimp your hand
Tuesday was horrible. Couldn't even bum-shuffle down the stairs (WAY harder than it sounds when one leg has to be straight and cannot have ANY weight put on it). I woke up with a hand cramp, so my right hand was gimped (still is a little strained). To anyone reading this in a cast, look at the pic to the right. Be SURE that your arm lines up with the crutch, the "v" shape between your thumb and forefinger is pointing forward, and the weight you push down into the crutch (rather than your leg) is on the RIDGE of your palm, and NOT your fingers or thumb. Otherwise you end up with a gimped hand, trust me.

Don't underestimate the excruciating pain

And I repeat - no having kids, ever. 'Nuf said. 

Don't forget your "granny grabber"

See picture on the right. I asked where I could buy one, at the hospital, and they just gave me one on loan, right then and there! Stephanie W. used to have one of these when she was alive, and I remember it helping her a lot. It picks things up, and even helps you pull up your trousers and put on socks when you can't reach your leg. Invaluable. Just a note, Stephanie, I commend you greatly for never complaining. I don't know how you did it.

Granny Grabber

Don't overestimate the meaning of the words "disabled accommodation"

So, after a week of being at my grandma's house, since my parents were flying back, we decided I should come back to Oxford. Poor Kiara is still in Kent until they reduce this full cast to a half cast (hopefully in just one more week!).  LMH, my college found me a "disabled" room on the fourth floor, with a lift. 

Ha, disabled they say, except for the four very skinny but long (one wall to the other) stairs that lead to the lift. They have NO railing. So I can't bum-shuffle up them and pull myself up on a railing. So, I am hostage here and would need a person to take me in and out of the building. At least there is an ensuite toilet (look at that step, definitely not a disabled "hop" I have to brace myself against the door and do to get up). My friends are being kind enough to bring me food...


Don't carry things!

I have been carrying the French press and dishes to the kitchen using my "Sweaty Betty" (UK's version of Lululemon) bag all day. Dragging them on the floor...

Don't be too disgusted by needles and ugly bruises

Oh yeah, how could I forget? I'll let you imagine the disgusting needle I have to jab myself with every day for 42 days to make sure the cast doesn't clot my blood. EWWWW. yeah. And it leaves a DISGUSTING purple bruise, every time, even though the nurses and everyone who watches me do it say I'm doing it exactly right. For the first time in my life I'm glad there's no beaches close to where I live. YUCK. Bruised and ugly!

Don't look at the clock/calendar too much 

Well this last one I haven't figured out yet. I'm impatiently trying to be patient. Appointment #1 on Tuesday. Hopefully by Appointment #2 this full cast is a half cast and I can have my house and dog back. I'm so grateful that she is well taken care of, and also that I have some friends who are not freaked out by hospitals, and are accompanying me to my appointments. 

Sorry for the downer post...this has really been my week in a nutshell. Good news though - my dissertation plans are going well and I can still go to France once I have a half cast. Positive thinking and hoping it'll be really, really soon. I know the next time I get to run my dog it will feel like freedom, no matter how much she pulls! Maybe I'll skip out on kickboxing and join another running club instead.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Champagne & Canapés @ LMH College Principal's home & My First Attempt at Tiramisu

Juliet, Dima, Sapna & Sophie
Valentine's Day this year was quite special. Apparently, Lady Margaret Hall's college principal and her partner sometimes invite graduate students to their home for a cocktail hour. Champagne and canapés at the principal's home, steps away from the college ---it was like being in a novel that is a cross between Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables. 

Beautiful, antique paintings, green walls, lush oriental carpets, a small terrier, and servers bringing around vegetable, cream cheese, and tuna canapés and delectable champagne was only part of the fun. Juliet and Dima are in my college, as is Sophie, who is teaching full time and taking our course part time, and is now in her second year. As our ALSLA course likes insane intensity, our Tuesday/Thursday classes end at 6:30, so the four of us had to appear late, but were still able to enjoy the atmosphere. Sorry for the poor picture quality - the lighting was tricky and all we had was our Android Galaxy III phones! 

The principal made a point of coming around to chat with everyone and even asked us what our dissertation topics involved. It was really lovely! I feel so lucky to be part of such an adventure. In fact, I felt a little bit like a rich kid in prep school. I'm definitely going to have to buy more dresses to make the most of the rest of my time here at Oxford ---I only have 2!  I find it  kind of ironic that our "student budget" is supposed to include clothing such as ball gowns (for the LMH ball in May), cocktail dresses and smart jackets and skirts.

Seriously? Do I have to be your Valentine every year?
 Arriving home around 8pm ,with my only valentine being my beloved Kiara, I decided to make the most of my evening trying out the tiramisu recipe that Alexandra got from her Italian host family when she lived in Italy. In fact, she is an amazing chef and made it for me a few days after my birthday (since it is my favourite dessert of all time).

  So, I thought, if  tira-mi-su is Italian for "pick me up", what better day than Valentine's for a single person to make the dessert for herself?

My first tiramisu!

What I neglected to realize, however, was that although "5 simple ingredients" are quite simple, whipping egg whites without a mixer is HORRENDOUSLY difficult! It took an inordinate amount of time, an attempt of using all 3 mixing bowls I own with my only whisk, adding lemon juice to increase the acidity (thanks, Google)....and my "whip" still didn't look like the picture! Oh, and  by the way, separating egg yolks from whites without an egg separator = a lot of mess!

Anyway, it did turn out okay, I think, if a little liquid-y. It tasted, yummy, anyway! So, I watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding on Youtube (we used a clip of it for a presentation on Greek-English bilingual's pronunciation that same afternoon), and ate my tiramisu with puppy at my side.  I am definitely lucky to have her ---once again, pup, you are my Valentine! Happy v-day, everyone!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My First Fight!: Kickboxing Friendly @ Windrush Club

Oxford vs. Windrush
My first fight in a ring - the kickboxing "friendly" fight (Oxford University Kickboxing Club vs. Windrush Kickboxing & Boxing Club) was a thrilling experience! Although I initially thought I'd be fighting someone my height, I ended up with a girl who was much taller (and much more skilled, as that club fights in many competitions; one of the girls in their club is a world champion!!!) 

While I did manage to corner her in the ring once or twice, and throw a few shots to the body, I did take quite one shot in the head (disorienting!) and had some trouble getting under her guard. The coach, Jan, said I did pretty well though, which is great ---anything is great for a first fight, I suppose. I will say though, that the axe kick is the worst ---well, the best, if you know how to throw one properly.  I definitely didn't see that one coming, and my opponent was really good at them! With someone that much taller, I can usually divert a roundhouse or side kick, but the axe kick to the head just comes out of nowhere!

At any rate, I am SO glad I signed up to spend my day there today; it reminded me how much I really love competition. Maybe I will be ready to fight in varsity on March 2nd, after all. 

Check out the slideshow below of a few shots that Catherine, one of our members who didn't spar today, took. (Sorry about the blurriness - motion pics are hard to edit!)

We spent a couple hours when we returned to Oxford this afternoon at Jan's place, admiring his many trophies, watching the pictures we took on a slideshow, and enjoying sandwiches, cookies and coffee and tea. He told us of a proverb in Bratislava, which says that "having a guest in your house is like having God in your house" --very hospitable! As per my new year's goals, this term is definitely not just about studying, and I am really enjoying the Oxford experience (fingers crossed that I will get a DPhil place and funding, and be here next year).

Oh and one other note - I am definitely going to order an OUkbc hoodie and a couple of t-shirts now :) We should all be in uniform at our next competition, I think --the Windrush club looked very smart in uniform.  There is competition next weekend as well, but we'll see how much work I can cram in before then to find time to spend another Sunday fighting. Go team!