Hello everyone, and welcome to our new blog! Looks just like the old one doesn’t it. But it’s running on a whole new platform, Wordpress for those of you who are interested. And for the tech-saavy readers, there is now an RSS feed that you can subscribe to.

I know I’ve emailed a lot of you in person over the past month and a bit, and I still have a bunch of emails in my inbox that I need to reply to, but I thought it might be time to post an update on my condition. I’m doing really well these days - I’m back on my feet and back to work. I still have a few aches and pains, and going for a run is still out of the question, but in terms of my day-to-day activities, I barely notice that I’m still hurt. I’ve also started going to the local gym to rehabilitate myself, and while I’m still quite limited in what exercises I can do, I find I can ride the stationary bike well enough that I can at least get a bit of a workout. It feels pretty damn good after living a mostly sedentary existence since the beginning of October. Last week was a bit of a setback - I came down with what was either food poisoning or a violent but short-lived case of the flu - but this week overall I’m felling as good as I have since the summer.

Thanks to everyone out there who supported me through all of this. It was great to hear from all the family and friends back home, and it sure makes me miss it that much more.

Last week, Jen and I solidified our plans for the holidays, and we’re both going to be heading back to Canada for Christmas! Jen will be in Vancouver from December 23rd to January 1st, and I’ll be in Winnipeg from the 20th to the 28th, then in Vancouver until the 1st as well. I’m really looking forward to it - a few weeks of bed rest makes you pretty homesick alright. See you soon!

An Update on this Last Month

3 weeks ago we had a five-day weekend in Taiwan, so Jon and I and 5 of our friends from various parts of the world (New Zealand, USA, Taiwan) decided to head off to a small city called Ilan. The first day honestly could not have been better. We got to a nice beach and did some surfing along with a good amount relaxing until the sun started to go down. In the evening, we got invited to a beach bonfire party that was being put on by some aboriginal people who lived in Ilan. A lot of them were part of a surf club there, and everyone there was incredibly friendly, giving, and laid back. Their open, laid back attitude was a nice change from the people we are used to in Taipei city, where a lot tend to be a little too affected by materialism. The aboriginal-surfer-people were all really interested in trying to talk to us in English, and they had a guitar and were singing some songs they knew around the campfire on the beach. And of course, Jon got a hold of the guitar and played two classics: “Hit Me Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears and “Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi. Mac, Danielle (two friends from San Francisco) and I did the singing. The aboriginal people even grabbed us off of our logs we were sitting on and forced us to participate in one of their campfire dances. The steps for the dance were a bit complicated, so none of us ever really got all the steps right. So basically, we looked pretty hilarious! We connected really well with these people and had a lot of laughs together and very interesting conversations in mixed English and Chinese. It was an extremely cool experience that I will never forget. Hopefully we’ll get to hang out with them again some day.

The next day was also another day that I will never forget, except that this time the story is not so nice. Jon, our friends and I decided to try paragliding. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s basically where you strap a parachute to yourself and run down a hill to catch wind and you soar up into the sky for a few minutes and then land back on the ground. We went with a Taiwanese paragliding company that does tandem rides (two people – pilot behind you and you at the front), only to find that the company was not as professional as we had trusted them to be. When it came to Jon’s turn, I watched them try to take off three times without successful lift off into the air. The Taiwanese paragliding guys seemed to indicate that this was not a problem, as they kept rearranging the chute to get ready to try again. They told us that Jon was doing everything he was supposed to do and that it was just the wind that wasn’t quite right yet. The fourth time they tried, they successfully caught a gust of wind, however they were a bit too low to the ground and looked like they were heading straight for some bamboo trees a little ways past the take-off point down the mountain. The pilot pulled up on the chute quickly and so Jon and him soared up above the trees into the sky. We all cheered because they had finally gotten into the air, but then we quickly realized that something was very wrong because the parachute had stalled in the sky. We reckon now that the chute stalled because the pilot had pulled up so quickly, which consequently made the chute lose its hold in the wind. Everything after that happened so fast. I watched the parachute shift awkwardly and then collapse. Then in horror I saw Jon and the pilot fall about 10 metres (35 feet) into a thick bamboo tree forest.

I stood there frozen for about 5 seconds in denial of what I just witnessed. And then I was hit with a strange feeling, if you could really call it one. I felt really calm, but in more of a numb kind of way, without very many thoughts running through my head. The only thought I remember crossing my mind was, “This could be very bad.” Then I snapped back into reality a bit and ran down the hill by myself to try to find a way into the bamboo trees that would get me to Jon quickly. I glanced behind me and saw two of our friends following me. It was hard to figure out where Jon and his pilot had fallen, because the trees were about 2 feet higher than our heads and really close together. We bent and broke down the trees and carefully but quickly tried to find Jon, all of us a little nervous that there could be poisonous creatures lurking about. After about 10 minutes of fighting through the trees, I called out to see if he could hear me and I heard him call back in a pained voice, which made me feel a little relieved. Finally we got to them, and I could see that he was in a lot of pain. He said that his back and chest were really hurting. The pilot looked like he had hurt his legs and hips, but he seemed a lot less hurt than Jon.

I’m going to keep out a lot of the details about how we ‘rescued’ Jon, because this story would end up way too long. Luckily, our friend Zack down at the bottom of the mountain had seen him fall and quickly got in a car and drove up to find us in the forest. Zack had been a medic in the US military for 2 years, so he was very helpful in getting Jon in a more comfortable position while we waited for the ambulance to come, which was about 45 minutes later. The paramedics were pretty horrible. They found us in the trees and brought a stretcher with them, but they took absolutely no initiative to check Jon and help him get on the stretcher. We waited for about 2 minutes, and watched them stand there and do nothing, and of course with there being a language barrier between us, we couldn’t yell at them to do their job. So we grabbed the stretcher from them, and put Jon on it carefully ourselves, and then gestured and yelled at everyone to grab a side and carry him up the hill and out of the forest. We got him into the ambulance and I climbed in beside him. I held his head to keep it from moving back and forth while we drove down a gravel road, and I kept looking at him in the eyes wishing I could take some of his pain away. 40 minutes later, and completely appalled at how no one in their cars would move over to let the ambulance through on the freeway, we arrived at the hospital. After 20 minutes of waiting in a corner in the emergency room, some angry looks and telling nurses (through our Taiwanese translator, Yumi) to get Jon some oxygen and pain killers, he was finally in a slightly better state. He got some x-rays done and a few minutes later, a doctor came up to us and said that he could see no broken bones, so Jon was good to go home. We were happy to hear that his back wasn’t broken, but we looked at the doctor in complete shock, and Jon said, “But I can’t move off of this stretcher!”

After waiting in the hospital in Ilan for 6 hours, we got a hold of a car and put Jon in the front seat and drove 2 hours back to Taipei. It was about 1:30 in the morning when we got back, so we decided to spend the night at home and head to a better hospital (with western trained doctors) after some sleep. The next day at the ‘better’ hospital, we were finally able to speak to some doctors who spoke English, which was a lot more comforting. They were a lot more thorough and concerned about Jon (they actually performed a physical exam!), but they seemed to have a bad case of tunnel vision and still missed a lot of what was actually wrong with him. We ended up sending Jon’s x-rays and CT scans to his parents in Winnipeg, and Jon’s dad (a radiologist) would call us and tell us what he could see and what other tests he should get done. Basically we were doing medicine by correspondence. We found out that next week that Jon had broken a rib, a pelvic diastasis (which means that his pelvis bone has stretched out a bit), and had torn a lot of muscles in his back and abdomen. That week, Jon was in a lot of pain and could barely walk. He had to hold on to me just to sit up in bed. The following Sunday, he came down with a fever, so off to the emergency room we went again. He was hospitalized for 5 days, and again after being told that the doctors at the hospital could find nothing wrong in his scans, we found out through Jon’s dad that Jon had a hematoma (clump of blood) the size of a fist in his lower abdomen, and that was the source of the fever. Luckily it turned out to be something that could basically heal by itself, so we convinced the doctors to let Jon come home.

Since then, Jon has been getting better and better by the day. He is back to his cheerful self. He can walk now (carefully) and is in a lot less pain. He is extremely lucky that his injuries weren’t worse, because they easily could have been. We learned a lot about how the medical system here works. And while the experience was negative and challenging to deal with, I think both of us have been able to see the positive side of things. I’ve realized how quickly your life can change, and how important it is to appreciate every moment you have with the people you care about. We’ve been thinking a lot about all the great friends and family members we have back home and how much we miss everyone.

So the last month has been a difficult one for us, but hopefully it’s just a little rough patch in the grand scheme of our Asian adventure.