Wednesday, February 20, 2019

How I broke my ankle

So, I'm finally home from what should have been a half hour routine check-up with my nephrologist (or kidney doctor for stoopid yanks) at Lillehammer hospital, but turned out to be a long day being shipped up and down between doctors, the x-ray machine (3 times!) and more doctors. And lots of wrinkly, ugly, old nurses; not even the hot kind. Meh. The only good thing that happened all day was when I was waiting to take a blood test (for the kidneys) and a young lady with a small kid went in before me and the noises that came out of that office sounded more like a bunch of wildcats fighting than a human child. For all I know, her head spun round and she projectile vomited dark blood.

Anyway, to recap: I slipped on the ice outside McDonalds, parked at the hospital, limped in and had my half hour, was sent up to x-ray which looked like a fracture, was sent down to orthopedic and promptly sent back up to x-ray to get better pics, then down again to get a slight cast around my ankle, up to x-ray to confirm that the cast was placed right relative to the injury, then down to orthopedic yet again, where they explained to me how to use crutches, which I've never used before.

In between all this there was endless waiting, which allowed me to finally, but fucking finally understand WHY people sit on their little smartphones all day and I gave thanks to Bob the Rain God that I had finally gotten one. I emailed my landlady and my boss and posted updates and insults on FB.

It was almost like being in a very slow, cumbersome version of home; like an Amish Facebook user, with my tongue sticking ever so slightly out of the corner of my mouth as my sausage fingers searched for the right button to push and by mistake pushed the one beside instead. Yeah, that happened. A lot. But I managed, and now I am back to my dear laptop with its large keyboard and screen.

"But what happened with the ole' leg", I hear you say, for I frequently hear voices and they're not always screaming for the blood of innocents. Well, the slight cast I have on now will probaby go off in a week, to be replaced by a proper, harder cast. At the same time they will also do a CT-scan of the leg and even make a decision on whether to operate or just leave it to grow of its own accord.

The doc in orthopedics told me that due to my diabetes-related neuropathy, there was good news and bad news. On the bright side, I won't feel as much pain as I normally would. On the not so bright side I will heal more slowly. Which brings me to a potentially big problem; estimated time I have to have a fucking cast on, precluding moi driving my beloved automobile, indeed any automobile at all, is 9 weeks versus normally 5-6.

We'll have to wait and see how the injury heals, but I was supposed to go to Scotland to chaufeur a couple of Californians around on April 17th. Iffin that 9-week time table still stands, there are two possibilities; either I need to arrange for a hand-controlled handicap car or a certain Californian needs to learn how to drive on the left.

I was sent home by taxi tonight - almost an hour's drive to the tune of appx 2500 NOK/300 USD, of which I personally paid a measly 149 NOK/17 USD. The rest is paid for by all you Norwegian readers through your taxes; a heartfelt thanks!

The walk from the courtyard along the garage and round to my entrance was almost too much and I would not have made it if not for the support of the taxi driver. I almost fell several times and the actual steps up to my apartment turned out to be too much for my crutches and my by now worn out left leg, which had had to bear the brunt of the struggles. I had to use my right leg for support even though I'm really not supposed to put any stress on it the first week. My landlady very kindly helped me with getting seated and brought me drink and medicines and stuff, but I already fear getting up and doing even the simplest things, like making a sandwich or *shudder* going to the bathroom.

Tomorrow I need to call my primary physician to write me a sick note for work and also I must contact the municipal authorities to hear what types of aids they can offer me, like maybe a walker. I foresee several weeks of cumbersome shittiness, medical mistakes interspersed with hours of tedious waiting and not least lots and lots of pain, glorious pain. I want a blanket, hot cocoa and sympathy, knowing full well that y'all are gonna rip me to shreads for being a whiny bitch who should have just gnawed off my leg and gotten on with it.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Parc Alpha

In late October every other year, my school arranges a trip abroad. It is open to all employees, but participation will of course vary with destination, prices and for all I know menstruation cycles. Anyway, this years destination was Nice, France and out of sheer boredom I finally decided to snatch the last available ticket, belonging to a colleague who could no longer go. Since the city itself didn't hold that much attraction to me, I decided to rent a car and explore the countryside for two days. I had hopes of getting colleagues to join me and thus split the cost, but apparently I should have planned way longer in advance (note to self there) or possibly changed my deodorant, because I had to drive off on my own, sweet own.

My first destination was a couple hours north of Nice, up in the mountains of the Mercantour National Park, not far from the Italian border. The Parc Alpha contains three packs of wolves and two souvenir shops that seem too large for the place, but when I saw how many people were there, I understood that this was pretty big business.

The road up to Parc Alpha is winding and in places quite narrow. The French, as is their wont, behave like madmen and many a time I thought I'd bought it only to be saved from imminent death by the width of a French cunthair. Anyways, this pic is from a tiny settlement I thought looked a lot like Italy.
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Not far from the park was a small lake dammed up at one end, with a picturesque bridge and a potent waterfall.
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As I stood photographing the waterfall, two planes crossed paths way up above and suddenly I felt a pang of yearning for my beloved Scotland.
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Up at the first and largest souvenir shop, I bought tickets and consulted a map. The packs had different feeding times and the walk to where the first pack was to be fed wasn't that far, I think appx. 600 meters or around 2,000 feet. Now, one of the later developments of my neuropathy-ridden legs is that in addition to giving me constant, low-intensity pain I develop cramping if I walk too fast or too far. Well, in order to make it to the feeding I had to walk faster than I would normally have dreamt of and I think I kind of reached the limit of my physical ability that day. Keep in mind, I was supremely motivated by the chance to see the wolves and my pace on the walk was quite a bit less than impressive for a regular, fit human, but still I was in excruciating pain. It felt like vices were placed around my legs, pressing against them with every move I made, cramps shooting up along them. And here's the thing. Even as motivated as I was, I couldn't quite make it. When I finally had the feed place in sight I almost collapsed in the last little hill up to it. Fortunately, a bench was placed next to where I almost buckled, so I managed to make it seem like I was just sitting down, but another couple of steps and I would have hit the ground. As fortune would have it, the feeding had only just started and after a good rest I got in a few shots; have a looksee below!

A hungry wolf trotting out of the woods.
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Beautiful animal.
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Another one making his way down to the feeding place.
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Afterwards, I wisely decided against trying to climb the steep, alpine hill to get a glimpse of the pack at the top of the park and instead began walking slowly down towards where the second feed site was. There were some laminated posters put up here and there and they looked very informational, but proved way too much for my almost forgotten high school French. I had some time before the feed, I was almost the first one there, so I had to walk around almost half an hour before anything much happened, and in this place there were no fucking benches, at least that I could see. Finally, fucking finally, the wolves started coming out of the woods toward the shack where by now I'm sure a hundred garlicky Frogs had assembled, all croaking in their native tongue. I saw a lot of families and tons of children, so I don't know if it was some kind of school holiday. Also, America had culturally assfucked France by exporting the tradition of Halloween to them and I saw quite a few little anklebiters dressed in various costumes and oh, how I love me a bit of Yank cultural imperalism.

This wolf had glowing eyes.
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Carefully approaching.
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This one had glowing eyes too.
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And that was basically it. Two fairly brief feeding sessions viewed through glass windows, standing with dozens and dozens of Frenchies and my legs a-hoytin' like fuck. Still, it was worth it just to see the animals, and the nature around there was very nice. Walking back toward the car, I stopped in at the two souvenir shops in quick succession, almost causing a stampede in the last one, when I approached the till and attempted to ask a question in English. Finally, one of the employees was pushed forward and she proved to be, if not exactly fluent, then at least able to somewhat communicate without having a nervous breakdown. Since they didn't have a single fucking t-shirt in my admittedly elephantine size, I bought a fleece jacket and a coffee cup; the last one a "gift" for a colleague who is also a farmer and would no doubt have nuked the place if given half a chance.

Driving back, I stopped and lunched at a restaurant in a small village I have completely forgotten the name of and have no intention of trying to recollect. Here, I had a nice surprise when the women who waited on me turned out to be English. Her parents had moved to the region when she was a teenager (probably due to the nice climate) and she had retained her lovely Engerlish accent, a welcome respite to my ears after a day full of harsh ribbit-ribbit sounds.

I had apple pie. Because I deserved it. Don't judge me.
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Some more pictures from the road. A lot of this looks very Italian, doesn't it?
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The light coming down into these steep, narrow, rivercut canyons was sometimes quite spectacular to behold.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A new castle

Tuesday, I set off for Dunfermline to see a new castle. I felt weak, but thank fuck nothing happened with my stomach while I was on the road to the lovely Loch Leven Castle, or, for that matter before I reached relative safety at my lodgings in Dunfermline. I'd had the wits to fill up with a couple of imodium pills and they worked their magic that day, praise Jebus.

Loch Leven Castle lies out in... well, Loch Leven. On an island creatively known as Castle Island. The castle was probably built around the year 1300 and was used in the Wars of Scottish Independence. It was later owned by the Douglas family for around 300 years and Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here 1567-8.
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As the boat headed towards Castle Island, we had lovely views on our right.
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A birdbrain - sorry, pheasant - was striding aimlessly across the lawn for the duration of our stay there.
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One of the many mighty trees on the island.
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There was a small tower and I believe a jail in this corner.
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The tower house.
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Nice and cozy fireplace inside the tower house.
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Several floors had once been inside the tower, but now, only the remains of the supportive masonwork remained.
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The kitchen was in the basement. Nom, nom.
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The shitter. I was getting good at finding them... which might come in handy with my medical predicament at the time.
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Monday, October 1, 2018

Retreat from the north

I spent all but a few precious hours of this night with a horrible, horrible diarrhea. When daylight broke I showered, got dressed and made my hasty goodbyes to the good folks at my little B & B, who no doubt wondered who the hell I was and why I'd even bothered to book there since I wasn't even having breakfast. The following images were all taken up around Stoer, and as I made my way south in the day, I recognized some features from my last visit in 2013; turns out I had taken the long, scenic road back then and not the quicker, inland route. I drove straight down to Drumnadrochit before risking another meal and was damn near famished when I finally reached the place. Most of that day was spent on the can, apart from a couple blessed hours when I went across the street to a restaurant to fill up again.

Just outside my lodgings I discovered this lovely little waterfall, which had been hidden by the rapidly descending nightfall the day before.
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Not much to look at perhaps, but according to an information board by the side of the road, this area was of great geological interest.
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Ardvreck Castle again.
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I wasn't sure I had it in me but in the end I did (have it in me... see what I did there?). My dessert from the lovely Fiddler's restaurant in Drumnadrochit. Well, when you're spending that much time on the can, you need to recharge the batteries (and the calories) when you have the chance.
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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Loch Maree to Stoer

Sunday morning started out much like Saturday had ended, with banter and good grub. Little did I know that the day would end with me on the toilet, my nether regions on fire - a predicament that would last over a week. Urgh.
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I hadn't gone too far when I spotted a place to stop along the shore to take pics. The weather was overcast, but not too shabby.
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Apparently, on one of the islands, there's a lake with yet another island on; the only one of its kind in Britain.
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Right up the hill from Loch Maree was yet another loch. This was to be the day of a thousand lakes.
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A tiny loch.
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"On one side lay the ocean, and on one lay a great water..." Well, not really a GREAT water, per se. More a small loch, which you can barely glimpse. Still, the view was enough to get the old poetic licence going.
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I believe this part was called Second Coast. T'was nice too.
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Then came a slightly wilder area inland, with streams and waterfalls galore.
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Just south of Ullapool, very close to the Corrieshalloch Gorge area was this very pretty vista. That's the ocean down there.
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Driving alongside the ocean, I saw a rainbow appearing and stopped to take this picture. When I looked up after taking it, the clouds had already removed any trace of a rainbow.
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Picture of the bay of Ullapool.
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I'd gone up north of Ullapool before and it was just as wild and beautiful as I remembered it.
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Ardvreck Castle.
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