When it rains, it pours…

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Image Credit: Edward Corbett

Well, November ended with a bang. As the title suggests I am having a run of bad luck right now. Eddie worked last night from 4 to 10 PM. I left about 9:20 to get him. It’s about a 15-minute drive. The first 5 minutes are on the old highway which we live on and then I went up the ramp onto Highway 101. As I got off the ramp and started picking up speed and heading down the hill to the bear river bridge when suddenly a deer jumped in front of me from the left.

I didn’t notice it until it was in my headlights. I braked hard but it was too late. I hit the deer with the right front of my car. It hit the guardrail, bounce off and slid across my car landed on its feet and took off… how I don’t know. It was a big one too. Male with antlers and I hit it fairly hard. It had to have been hurt. It did some damage to my car and smashed my front headlight and signal light, left a large hole in my bumper, damaged my hood and the corner panel.

Image Credit: Norm Van Tassel. The concrete bridge is the one I was headed onto on the far end of this bridge in this picture. The second bridge, the train trestle, is long gone. It was torn down years ago.

I pulled over to the side of the road up against the guardrail after and there was a car already on the 101 that I merged in front of moments before. He pulled over as well and got out to see if I was okay. He looked the car over good with his phone’s flashlight and said he thought it was likely still drivable. After ensuring I was okay he waited for me to pull away and followed me across the bridge and I pulled over at the exit right after it as I was shaky and also concerned because a caution light was on.

Image Credit: Edward Corbett

The guy must have gotten off at the exit. I didn’t see where he went from there but I called my mom because I was starting to get sore and wasn’t sure if I should drive the car or not. It felt shaky but that could have just been me. I think I was in shock a bit. My parents came to get me. We drove into Digby and picked up Edward and by that time I had searing pain across my whole lower back and my hip and knee on my left side and my wrist was getting sore.

Image Credit: Edward Corbett

I usually drive with my left foot in the footwell on the footrest most newer cars have. I won’t do that again. My husband and parents both thought I should go to the ER at this point to be checked out. So they drove us there, dropped us off and went back to the car and Dad drove it home with mom following behind and parked it in our driveway then came back to the hospital to wait for me.

The ER doc luckily was my favorite one (it’s a small town and he’s been contracted to work in the ER for a while along with Dr. Ron) who doesn’t fool around and is actually a really great doctor. He was concerned about my description of the accident and where my foot was placed and where my pain was and wanted to rule out a hip or pelvic fracture and x-ray my knee.

Image Credit: Edward Corbett

There didn’t appear to be any and he said my pelvis alignment looked good. He figures the impact caused a shock wave up my leg because it was braced against the wheel well thingy and up through my leg and knee into my sacroiliac joint and lower back. My wrist and elbow and shoulder likely had a similar shock through them. I am pretty sure my stomach hit the steering wheel. I am experiencing a lot of pain there and am going to have to go back and get it checked I think as it’s been progressively increasing overnight and my head and shoulder hit the door.

Unfortunately, I had the previous injuries all on that side and in the same joints which I still have pain from. So this is just going to aggravate that. I imagine this is likely going to cause my fibromyalgia to flare and cause me even more issues. He put me off work till Thursday but said to come back if I need longer or am still in a lot of pain Thursday to be re-evaluated. He said it should start resolving in a week or so but he didn’t know how bad my previous injuries were or that I have Fibromyalgia. Probably should have mentioned that but even with him, I didn’t want that to overshadow it.

I am so pissed about the car. We have only had it a little over a month! At least it’s not badly damaged. I also feel bad for the poor deer since it wasn’t killed but its back end must have been injured. I called the non-emergency RCMP number this morning to see if I needed to report the deer and she said no unless it’s dead and needs to be moved off the road or is lying injured on the side of the road and can’t get up then the department of natural resources prefers to just let nature take its course and leave them alone. It was long gone anyways it ran for the woods. Hopefully, it’s not hurt too bad. Not even sure why it was crossing there or came from as the side it came from was steep coming down to the road and where it was going to had a guard rail and on the other side a steep drop off to either the sea or the road that runs alongside it like 100 ft below, its basically a cliff.

I also called my insurance and they said it would fall under comprehensive so it would not affect my premiums or anything and they started a claim and booked the car in at 11 am tomorrow in Smith’s Cove for an estimate and set up the rental car for when it is in the shop. They also started a benefit claim for the injuries and said they like to get you into a clinic to assess injuries and determine what’s needed for physio, etc.

I have to pay a $250 deductible which fortunately I just changed last month when we got the car, it was previously $500 with the Nissan Altima. There goes our winter tire money. Kinda pissed about that too. Took me a few months to save it up. Going to have to deal with all seasons for the winter or see if there is anything left over to at least buy used for this year.

Also, it’s a good thing I know not to swerve as that guard rail would not have stopped me going over the edge either

So This is Christmas

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Image Credit: Pexels

Driving home from an Oral and Maxillofacial appointment in Halifax today with Mom and listening to Christmas music (I wasn’t much in the mood at first but she felt like listening) I decided that this year I was going to try and do things a little differently for Christmas. I say this now I know, but I really am going to try. I promise I am going to try my best. What do I mean by that?

I am determined this year to get a bit more in the Christmas spirit. I am going to take a bit of money this week that we have extra and get a few things to decorate with. I am not one to go overboard anyways. However, I really want to put up some nice decorations and maybe even a real tree or at the very least a proper artificial one. We even have one from a few years ago out in the garage.

One of the songs Mom and I heard was this one by John and Yoko:

I have always been a big fan of John Lennon and of The Beatles actually and this song has long been one of my favorite Christmas songs. I know some people found the song to be weird and John & Yoko obviously but I loved it and it’s one of the most memorable Christmas songs from my childhood. All of the Christmas songs we listened to really put me in the mood.

When I got home since I am still not feeling well and since my husband was at work I had started to read some blogs and then I got to thinking I wanted to make a Christmas theme for my blog. Something I don’t think I’ve done in a long time. I got a little lazy I must admit and took the easy way out. Something I am all too good at doing

I found the above image of the reindeer and fell in love with it and really wanted to use it so I figured a way to just incorporate it pretty easily into my current theme which I just edited right in WordPress because I was too lazy to create a new theme and besides, I want to try a different WordPress starter theme to build a theme from next time. So I apologize in advance for the early Christmas stuff, I know, it’s not even the end of November yet..

It’s been a long couple days since we had to stay up in the city in a hotel so I was near the hospital but we are home now and it’s time for bed. I got to spend some quality time with my mom in the car and that’s all that matters!

Kandahar, Afghanistan

In March of 2009, I hopped on a plane in Ottawa and flew to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and then on to Kandahar, Afghanistan. My mission? To work on the base in Kandahar for 6 months as civilian support. I was 29 years old and this was the furthest from home I had ever been. I only had one week’s preparation before being shipped off with about 15 other men and women I did not know to a place I had never been to a climate I was not prepared for and a situation that kind of got out of hand.

To my credit, I did do my research and my father who is ex-military had been to Qatar almost 20 years before. He was familiar with what the housing, food, and “community” living was going to be like. He knew the climate, what I would need to bring with me to wear, what other things I would need with me. So I felt like I was all set.

The plane ride to Dubai was very typical if not a little turbulent. As someone used to being on planes and in the air there were no surprises, just an excitement about what was to come. I couldn’t wait to get there. And I was missing my family and (current) boyfriend already.

In the airport in Dubai we shuffled into a few cabs and hightailed it to the most magnificent hotel I had ever stepped foot in. The hallways and foyer floors were all marble, there was real gold accents everywhere, beautiful crystal chandeliers and accents with water colored by emerald color lights. Outside the hotel, the sidewalks were also marble! I was so amazed.

The inside of the hotel room was just as luxurious. My room had 2 king-size beds. A Jacuzzi tub, a beautiful marble shower with gold accents. White silk bedding with luxurious cotton and silk sheets. And bath towels so big I could wrap myself 3 times in them. This was the “calm before the storm”. We later found out the company paid more than $600 per night per person.

Back at the airport the next morning and after green Mcdonald’s Chicken Nuggets, we loaded onto a plane that looked like it was out of a bad movie scene. The paint was peeling. You could see where at least 2 other airline logos had been on it and the wings had dings and dents.

Inside was not much better. About 15-20 rows from front to back. 2 seats on each side so I’d guess maybe 60-80 seats if that. The carpet was torn and stained and I swear when you looked down at where the seats were bolted to the floor you could see outside (no joke!). I sat down beside a guy that looked like he was out of an Indiana Jones movie and buckled up.

Shortly after I sat down and while they were still loading a plan a girl (woman) walked on the plane. She was about 19 or 20 if I had to guess. She was dressed in black shiny leggings, a pretty sequined top, and 6-7 inch heels, a shiny leather looking surely designer carry on the bag. Indiana Jones looks at me and says “I hope to god she’s getting on the wrong plane” and goes back to his book.

We take off and the inside of the plane shakes so much I swear I see bolts coming loose. Indiana Jones smiles at me and says “hold on!”. Oh, believe me… I am.

It’s an hour-long flight and I am listening to music on my little iPod nano mini and about 40-45 minutes into it I hear a loud whistling sound through the music. I look to my left out the window. I was in the outside seat on the right side of the plane if you’re heading down the aisle from the front. Indian Jones says “that’s a rocket (missile), they are trying to hit the plane, don’t worry we are too high up. It’s the landing you need to be worried about”. I put my music back in my ears. 10 more minutes (which seemed like hours), Indian Jones touches my hand to get my attention.

He says “Buckle up Hun, put all your gadgets away, tuck your bag under the seat and hold on”. I shuffle to do this and hold onto the seats with white knuckles. My dad told me about the types of landings the planes need to do in order to avoid the missiles and stuff. Nothing prepares you though. We make a spiraling descent out of the movies and land with a thud and squeal on the tarmac. I grab my stuff and get ready to go. I get as far as the door of the plane and on the boarding ramp (stairs) and halfway down when the sirens go off. Indiana Jones who is still with me grabs my arm and steers me under the body of the plane and as far from the wings as possible as the first missile hits a ways away. The ground shakes. And so am I.

We walk double-file across the tarmac after the all-clear siren goes (you learn the difference between the two sirens as well as any others pretty quickly) and head for a little gated area off the side of the building where we wait for about 40-45 minutes while they slowly trickle us through. Finally, I am through the gates. Welcome to Afghanistan! I am finally here.

After getting through the gates, we went on a bumpy and slightly smelly bus ride across the base to pick up our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), which consists of a duffle bag filled with a protective vest (Kevlar possibly, I don’t remember) and helmet, a gas mask and a flashlight. This was to be stored under our beds and donned if you are close enough to it when the sirens go off, which happened again while picking up our PPE and trying it on. After 2 minutes face down on the ground with my arms over my head. I head to a concrete bunker and hang out till the all-clear siren.

Next, we go get our IDs and travel around the outskirts of the base, safely just inside the walls to get a view of everything, including the “Shit pond”, which is a small lake that was filled with human waste, cooking oil and grease. The smell gets whipped around the base with the desert winds. It can get quite ripe. But like anything you get used to it. Till you get home to Canada (or where ever) anyways and can not get the smell out of your hair, skin, clothing, and baggage, no matter how much you scrub, wash and rinse. Eventually, it fades on skin and hair, for most, in time to go back to KAF after vacation.

Luckily it’s close enough to our tent line that you get used it fast. As well as the sounds of jets, planes and other vehicles, night and day which we were also lucky enough to be right beside. Oh and the constant blasting and testing of missiles and other ammo at the ammunition depot and fields. You really do get used to it though. Makes for a rough first week, coupled with homesickness.

“Home” is an 8ft by 6ft space in an 8 person tent that you share with up to 7 other people of the same sex. Mine was quite cozy with a real dresser, a single bed, a locked storage box, a night table, and one of those 3 tier plastic containers you can store stuff in. I learned quickly to put shoes in there and not leave them on the floor or all kinds of creepy-crawly would crawl out when you picked them up.

Prior to the plane trip to KAF, I had a week’s stay outside Ottawa on an old base or training range. Where we learned CPR and First Aid, fire fighting skills, training on how to recognize land mines, booby traps and any number of natural hazards, including but not limited to: Snakes, scorpions, and spiders. We learned to don our gas masks in the dark inside a hut filled with pepper spray gas. I was one of the lucky ones that had been shown how to use it before, minus the pepper spay, when I was on base in Baden-Söellingen, Germany. We also got medicals, immunizations, etc. They weren’t really worried about us getting to know each other. There was plenty of time for that in KAF.

Lunch and supper were usually spent at one of the 4 Dfac’s (no idea what that stands for), which were basically cafeterias, each with slightly different themes. Aptly named: Niagara, Cambridge, Luxemburg, and Far East. They basically served the same items with different spices, garnishes, etc to make them more, North American, British, European, and Asian foods. There was also a “fancy” restaurant whose name I have forgotten and a European bakery that served the best black pepper beef pot pies, which was below a European PX (“post exchange” – a fancy way of saying store). At the time I was there, along the boardwalk there was a Tim Hortons, a Subway, a Pizza hut, an ice cream stand, and some other concessions. Pizza hut quickly became a favorite. Along with Tim’s. Can’t be a proper Canadian without a Tim’s close by.

The next weeks blended together with learning my work, getting acquainted with the lifestyle and people of KAF, and missing home, but enjoying myself for the most part. Life at KAF was interesting and the money was good. I bought a cell phone and got internet. They along with food from the boardwalk or things bought in one of the PX’s or souvenirs from the market or boardwalk were the only things you paid for. Everything else was included, plus a hefty pay. Bottled water was everywhere you looked at the end of every tent row, outside every building, around every corner. Tap water was not potable at KAF and could give you very nasty bugs, parasites, etc.

In the evenings we would sit outside on our decks made of pallets and plywood in camp chairs around wooden cable drums that served as tables and played cards, talked and played board games or we would go to the gym or grab a late supper at one of the Dfac’s or spent half the evening in a concrete shelter in the dark with maybe 20-30 other people or more trying to get as close to the concrete bunker as possible should a stray rocket get too close for comfort. Though most were duds and half the time they could not hit something no matter how hard they tried.

Once or twice a month there would be a barbecue hosted by the company and we would get 2 beer and have hamburgers, steak, ribs, and/or hot dogs. Real stuff sent from the US or Canada. Other than that drinking and drugs of any kind were strictly forbidden. So  was fornication of any kind. The “No booze, no sex” rule that also applied to both the Canadian and American troops stationed there. Other nations were not as strict with the no sex rule but the no booze rule was enforced by the base commander and anyone civilians caught doing either were sent home. Not sure what happened to the troops.

On one such occasion (barbecue, not sex), after drinking our beer a guy friend and I decided to go looking for another friend of mine and found her on her deck in front of her tent with another tent mate and a tent mate of my guy friend. We sat down and started talking. About an hour or two later when the barbecue was starting to wind down and people were starting to migrate back to their decks in front of their tents, I felt something crawling on my face. I swatted at it and it bit me. Being used to black flies and other things biting me I only mildly paid attention. My friend looked over and said, “hold still, you have a spider on you, I can’t see what it is”. It fell on my leg and bit me again, fell, and scurried off.

My friend tried to kill it but couldn’t it moved too quickly. He thought it was a brown recluse though and told me I needed to get to Role 3 (the Nato Role 3 hospital) fast. I was starting to feel sick to my stomach (from the spider bite or from nerves? I don’t know) and feeling lightheaded. They got a vehicle and in the middle of another rocket attack took me to the hospital. Once I got there I was taken in, put on a saline IV, and asked a bunch of questions about what bit me. I couldn’t answer. Someone else said spider but we did not know the kind. I had seen it briefly and they started showing me pictures to try and identify, I passed out.

When I woke up they told me they had given me the stuff to stop the spread of the poison. They said even if it was not the spider I thought it was there were plenty other poisonous spiders and other things that could have bitten me and since I was not able to kill it and bring it with me they would need to keep an eye on me. I was put on a hospital bed in a ward of about 10 beds. There were other people there including a child I believe. I don’t remember much about the next 2-3 days. After more than 24 hours I was sent back to my tent and told to rest. I slept a lot or just laid on my bed.

After another day or two, I was able to get up for 12-20 minutes at a time and a few days later I decided to go back to work, the first day was a bit of a blur. The second day I was feeling better and decided to go to the boardwalk for my lunch and grab a pizza from Pizza Hut. I ordered and then went to lean against the rail at the other side and wait. A few minutes later I apparently fainted and fell. Unfortunately, there was a bench beside me that a few people were sitting on and I smashed my face into the cement post on the back of it.

I woke up when a worker from Pizza Hut poured cold water from a bottle over my head. Not sure how good an idea that was considering my face and shirt were covered in blood. When I saw the blood I passed out again. I am not one to faint at the sight of blood, even my own. But that was a lot of blood. My shirt was saturated in it. And my face stung like a bitch. I still wasn’t sure what was going on.

Three British girls came rushing to my side, all were medics in the British army. One told me I would need stitches, she lifted me up in her arms and carried me to their vehicle and drove me back to Role 3. The same doctor again: “Boy you must really want to go home”. No… I did not. The girls disappeared. I never got to say thanks. Not that I could, my whole mouth and face were numb. I didn’t hurt yet. He sat me in a wheelchair and disappeared and when it felt like I was going to pass out with pain which did not take long to start or loss of blood, or both he showed up again and said in a lovely accent I did not realize he had, said “It’s busy tonight” and disappeared again. After god knows how long he came back a 3rd time and pushed my wheelchair into an x-ray room.

An American girl about my age or maybe a few years younger took x-rays of my head and wheeled me back to the other area I was in. Then I was brought to the dental part of the hospital and more x-rays, this time dental type ones were taken. They confirmed I had a broken jaw and my front teeth were cracked, but not broken. I also had bitten off about 1/3 of my bottom lip. That concerned me the most. I was scared of scaring. There is some but now it is hardly noticeable. About 20 stitches later in my lip and inside my mouth, I was back in one piece. They said my jaw would heal on its own (it did not, I had to have it broken and wired about 6 months later).

I went back to my tent and slept most of the next 2-3 days in a haze of pain. My tent mates and other friends I had made, bought me soup and Gatorade and snuck soups and soft foods into the tent (not supposed to have food in the tents). Until I was well enough to .go to the Dfac again. I ate soft foods for the rest of the time I was there. After about 2 weeks I was told I either have to try and get back to work or they were sending me home. My job consisted of talking on the phone a lot. 2 hours into the first shift I gave up and tearfully told me, supervisor, I wanted to go home.

I went back to my tent and a flight to Dubai was arranged for 3 days from then. On the day I left it was a blistering 42°C. The warmest so far. I got back on the plane from hell and we lifted off. I arrived in Dubai roughly an hour later. I left with a friend of mine and a friend of his who was going on their vacation. They decided to go to Egypt. I landed in Halifax to 25°C and was freezing. I was home. :love: