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Accident Prone

January 14th, 2010 by Raj

In the few times that I’ve retold this story the consistent theme in each response has been along the lines of “Gee you’re accident prone aren’t you?” generally conveyed in a somewhat sarcastically rhetorical kind of way. I can’t blame them, in the past few years I’ve been hospital twice already and now with this latest endeavour I’m surgery bound once more.

The short version of events comes down to my knuckles trying to (unsuccessfully) catch an American football. Normally I’d allow the palms of my hands to look after such a task but on this particular occasion my brain decided to do things differently, you know, try and keep things fresh and all. I had, after all, been catching balls using the tried and true method for quite a few years now and it’s just plain dull.

It would seem however that my knuckles, or to be more specific the top knuckle of my left middle finger, wasn’t quite up to the challenge on this particular day and instead it felt the need to sustain an injury called “mallet finger” where the tendon is over extended and stretched causing a rather significant amount of pain.

My doctor the next day didn’t seem particular concerned with what had taken place, “A common injury among footballers I see every day” he told me, whilst at the same time observing my rather scrawny body seated opposite him and quietly quizzing himself as to why on Earth I would even put such a fragile frame in a position. I felt the need to reassure him that I was merely tossing the old pig-skin with a mate and not actually participating in an actual game. That would, of course, be suicide.

“Nothing to worry about” he said, “We’ll just take an x-ray to be sure but you’ve got some movement there, which is good, but you’ll be splint bound for about 8 weeks, less than 5% chance there’d be anything else going on”.
Oh joyous day, my day-job of programming was sure to suffer from the splinted attributes I was soon to inherit and no doubt it would of course ice my moonlighting career as the new wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers but that’s ok, they were knocked out of this years Superbowl that morning – most likely due to my absence mind you.

X-ray done and a few minutes waiting for the docs return I was met with what could only be described as “you’ll-never-frakin’-believe-it-but-you’re-in-that-5%-I-shouldn’t-have-mentioned-about-10-minutes-ago” look smacked across his gob. I started to smile, it just seemed funny waiting for him to try and figure out how to break the news to me that my finger was completely rooted. The smile evolved into a giggle and I apologised telling him that it was OK I was used to being in the medical minorities.

Turns out my tendon had done a little chop and wiggle from my bone, which was already expected, but a shard of bone had come loose, which again was kind of expected but as this shard was over 50% the size of the joint it was a little bigger than 8 weeks in a splint was going to fix and meant it was going to need some surgery to get things back on track.

“I’m going back to the tit doctor aren’t I?” I asked him.
“Um… sorry?”
“I had my wrist operated on a few years back by a plastic surgeon” I informed him, “His entire office was decorated with breast implants that he displayed with gusto & pride; ‘tit doctor'”.
“Ah, well yes, that’s probably where you’re headed” he confirmed.

Turns out my plastic surgeon is on a little extended leave post new years and I wont be seeing him any time soon meaning my day surgery attendance is beyond that by some time. At this rate I’ll do 8 weeks in the splint, have the surgery and then spend another month recovering (in a splint). I might make the Packers’ pre-season if I’m lucky! Haha.

As you can imagine having any body appendage retarded you begin to quickly realise just how often you rely on it. Sure it’s my non-dominant hand but I’m quickly broaching a new level of admiration for those of the world missing limbs or paralysed. In that spirit here’s a quick top 5 list of things I’ve found embarrassingly difficult to achieve only one finger down.

  1. Squeezing toothpaste out of a tube while holding a toothbrush at the same time.
  2. Putting deodorant on, it now involves resting the can on my bedside table and pushing the button with my thumb and spraying it al over my arm nowhere near my armpit.
  3. Eating a meal that requires cutting meat, the “stab & devour” method of food consumption is now employed on a regular basis.
  4. Opening a bottle of… well anything really, even though I use my right hand to twist the cap keeping a grip with my impaired left hand is like lifting a 10kg weight with my pinky finger only.
  5. And then finally… making the bed. It took me 20 minutes to put on a fitted sheet yesterday, the whole process now involves me holding the sheet in my teeth whilst lifting the mattress with my good hand and hooking it underneath. It’s just plain awesome to watch in a rather sad yet unbelievably humour-able fashion.


All that said typing is something that I’ve quickly adapted to doing one finger down and once this new medical chapter comes to an end I’ll probably have to teach myself to use the current dead-weight-digit the other 9 are carrying on the keyboard!

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I’m coming home!

November 21st, 2008 by Raj

Just as the first snow begins to fall in Toronto I am making a sooner than expected departure. In less than two weeks (December 4th) I will be boarding a plane and heading home to Melbourne.

Unfortunately the return will signal the end to my “Canadian Tales” adventure, which in turn has been cut short as a result of my recent hospital stint.

A lot of people have asked if I’m going home simply because of what happened and whilst it was a terrible ordeal the act itself is not the reason but it does construct the basis. The healing fractures in my skull require further medical attention with specialists that I can simply not afford here in Canada, the one in my eye socket especially as it may require surgery to prevent any eye damage.

I am regretful that I wont be staying longer, especially now that I’ve seen the city under a blanket of snow – it’s a magical sight and I’ve now decided that I simply must have a white Christmas in years to come. That said seeing my family after seven months over here is going to be the best Christmas present I could ask for.

See you all in Australia December 6th!

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The Hospital Stay – Indians

November 16th, 2008 by Raj

In case you’re wondering what this series of posts is in regards to I had a recent stint in a Seattle hospital after being assaulted. Details on the “why, what, when, how” here.

OK everyone prepare yourself I’m about to shock you; nope, blow your minds even! Hang on, no, even better, I’m about to turn your world upside down bitches! Are you ready? Are you sure? OK, here goes… 3… 2… 1… I’m an Indian. There, I said it. Well, no, that’s a lie, I’m half Indian, and no it’s not “Woa, woa, woa” Native American Indian, I am in fact half curry-munching-bad-BO-thank-you-very-much-come-again Indian. Can you believe it?!

I’m surprised more people don’t figure it out for themselves to be honest. I mean my name is “Raj” after all but then again my skin is about as dark as an extremely over-milked cup of tea. You know, that brown that kind of sits in between blood-nut white and tanning-salon-addict orange. The point is I get mistaken for pretty much every other nationality besides Indian. Italian, Spanish, French, Cuban, fuck I’ve even had Thai and Chinese! In most cases I’ll generally respond with a correction of “Nah mate I’m `stral-yan” (Not really, I speak the Queen’s English) not actually letting them in on the fact that I’m also part Indian.

Now there’s plenty of reasons that this is probably the case, the biggest of which is that I was never brought up with a great exposure to an Indian culture, but if I’m to be honest with myself one of the real reasons is more likely to be that I’m a bit ashamed. Indian’s don’t get the best rap when it comes to social acceptance in Western culture. They smell, they take our call centre jobs, they drive our cabs, their heads wobble as they talk, etc, etc, the list goes on.

It took the shit kicking of a lifetime for me to re-evaluate my own perception of Indians but I’m glad it came about. Whilst in hospital in Seattle I had three different Indian nurses, two male, one female. One of them in particular “Vic” was there from day one, he would come in every couple of hours and check my sugar level, empty my urinals and then leave again as quickly as he had arrived. It was like clockwork, he was never late, he never pried, he was always professional and proud of what he was doing. I would watch him come in and perform the routine meticulously time and time again until on the third day, when my senses had begun to return, I finally asked him his name and where he was from. After a brief conversation, one that is almost identical to every conversation I have with a newly met Indian; “I’m half Indian”, “No, Dad’s Indian”, “He’s Punjabi”, and finally “No I don’t speak Hindi”, Vic left and we barely spoke another word until it was my day to leave and we said goodbye and good luck.

What amazed me most about Vic was just how professionally he went about everything. He wasn’t being a snob he knew that I didn’t want to talk, he just went about what he had to do and did it with the upmost of attention and decorum. It took me a while, but when I thought about it the majority of Indians I’ve encountered in their workplace did the same. They work hard, they do jobs no one else wants to (I mean the guy was emptying my piss into a toilet for Christ’s sake) and they do it proudly as best they can. Vic’s work demeanor made me proud to be Indian, made me feel almost guilty that I, at times, can be a pre-madonna when it comes to working matters and most importantly made me want to be better. It was much needed inspiration.

Professional pride is however only half of the story because what happened after that first conversation is more of the amazing culture that is India. You see, once it was established that I was of Indian blood the grapevine did a’flutter. Eevery Indian within a 50km radius knew of my situation within a matter of minutes. By the end of the day I’d met three more Indian nurses and by the next day I had my Dad’s extended family calling me to take me in as soon as I returned to Toronto. I swear the gay rumour network stole their schematics from the Indians, either that or they outsourced its construction to them!

Indian’s accept any as their own, if you’re Indian you are family. My Mum and I were talking about this the other day because of how confusing it makes things when you’re actually trying to figure out who’s a blood relative and who isn’t. For example, every Indian male I meet who is friend of my father is my “uncle” and any Indian I meet of my generation is my “brother”. They have an unbelievable sense of family, something I’ve unknowingly inherited in the way I always put family before anything, but never really understood how passionately I do so as what I believe to be a result of my Indian genetics.

Hospital was an eye opener on my heritage. I’m not about to whack on a turban and migrate to “the homeland”, that’s not what I’m getting at all, but the next time someone asks me about my background that silly feeling of shame isn’t going to be there any more.

P.S. I’m not just saying all this because Indian beat Australia in the cricket either :)

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Archives Posts

The Hospital Stay – Soul Searching

November 14th, 2008 by Raj

In case you’re wondering what this series of posts is in regards to I had a recent stint in a Seattle hospital after being assaulted. Details on the “why, what, when, how” here.

If it’s a soul searching environment you’re after then do I have the solution for you. It’s really not that hard at all to set up the ideal surroundings required to bare your inner thoughts to some conscious daylight. All you’ll need to get you started are a couple of things…

  1. Damaged eyesight. Anything that’s going to stop you from seeing a TV and reading a book.
  2. A short hospital stay. I’d recommend a minimum of a three day stay, you want it to be long enough that you get really bored, yet not too long that you’ve recovered enough walk about the place.
  3. To be in another country. This one’s pretty important. Try and pick a country that you know absolutely no one and is far enough away from everyone you know that you’ll get no visitors but has a health care system that’s actually going to fix you.
  4. Travel Insurance. Hospital stays aren’t cheap in foreign countries.


Well those are the four elements that did it for me anyway. I’ve been in hospital plenty of times before but this time was a very, very different story. Never before have I spent so much time analyzing not only the immediate events of my life but every moment before it that had led to where I am now.

Hospital felt, as best as I could imagine, to be akin to solitary confinement. The only solace was food, even if for the majority of my stay that was liquids it was the only thing to break up the day. I couldn’t even hide in slumber, my dreams filled with flashbacks and nightmares resulting in me constantly waking covered in cold sweat, heart racing and barely able to breath. There was nowhere for me to hide and only one thing I could do; think.

Now I’ve looked in the mirror and stared back at the reflection with a pondering gaze many a time before but staring into the infinite space of darkness with only your mind to keep you company for hours at a time is another kettle of fish entirely. There’s lots of things that begin to swirl around, “Why am I alone?”, “What’s the point of it all?”, “Life after death?”, or just “Why?” but when it all comes down to it what I dwelled on most was me or to be more exact “If I was to take a good hard look at my soul would I like what I see?”

To be honest I’m still not sure if I have an answer. Of course I, like everyone else, has moments in their past they’re not particularly proud of but do they make me a bad person? Perhaps. They make me feel like they do at times but then I feel as though I have a lot of redeeming qualities too. It’s not an easy, nor fun thing to do, question one’s existence and morality in the world but it is one of the top 5 “Things to do in hospital whilst blind and incapacitated” list I just now made up.

I guess the only real conclusions surmounted after jumping into the rabbit hole were that there are things I’m not happy about. Be those general things in my life, work or relationships there are elements in each that I need to change. Maybe this whole adventure was life’s strange way of getting me to wake up and smell the roses, lord knows I could’ve done with a kick in the butt. Message received.

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I’m OK. [Updated 15/11/08]

November 8th, 2008 by Raj

I’m going to keep this brief because it’s hard to look at a computer screen at the moment…

For those who don’t know I’ve been in hospital in Seattle since last Saturday morning, the 1st of November. I’ve just been released today and am flying back to Toronto tomorrow morning.

I was admitted to hospital after being attacked by a group of random guys who were harassing a friend of mine that I was trying to help get into a cab. The attack was completely unprovoked and unwarranted. I was not drunk, nor do I remember what happened after the first punch crushed my glasses into my eye.

The result of the attack left me with a fracture in my nose and another in the lower left portion of my orbital socket. Neither appear to be serious but I am required to follow up with specialists to rule out corrective surgery at a later date.

After spending the night in the ER I was released but due to the concussion, drugs, swollen eye, the constant nausea from cat-scan dye, etc my sugar levels were drastically screwed and I was in no condition to fix them resulting in an attack of Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) to which I was then readmitted 12 hours later and spent the next 5 days recovering from.

As scary as all that sounds, I’m OK. I’m very lucky and very thankful to the nursing staff of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. I’m not even close to 100% of my normal self and my vision is still slightly blurred but it will hopefully have no permanent damage. My nose is not knocked out of alignment nor am I hideously disfigured but I do have some rather deep bruising and cuts about the place.

I’m sorry if I’ve had anyone worried but being out of contact but this is the first chance I’ve had to be in touch with anyone beyond family.

Update – 13/11/08
A few common questions have come up in regards to what happened so I thought I’d just update you all here…

I have no idea how many people were actually punching me, all I can remember is that there were 5 of them there and at least one was punching my face.

There was little to no chance of the police finding the attackers and they were quite upfront in telling me this. A fact I completely understand being it was Halloween and there were thousands of people on the street.

I will be returning to Australia sooner than expected. Most likely early December but this is yet to be confirmed.

Update – 15/11/08
Day 271Here’s a photo of my damaged eye as of today. As you can see it’s healing nicely and the bruising has almost gone. You can click on the image to load it up in Flickr which will point out the two fracture points as they’re hard to see with the naked eye.

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