i blame george

less than 24 hours until george w is on his way back to a retirement filled with brush clearing, so i’m taking this last chance to blame him for an troubling miscarriage of justice.

in our previous visits to new zealand we had spent almost all of our time on the south island – the greener, wilder and more action packed half of nz – and when we were planning to move here we always assumed we would live on the south island.

then we ended up in wellington and have been keeping ourselves busy on the north island for the last 18 months. but our first trip to the south island was on the books for march. and it was a big one – the milford track.

the milford track is viewed by many as the finest walk in the world. the track is limited to 90 walkers a day and reservations open up each july 1st for the following year. last july i jumped on the booking system the minute it opened to secure our reservation for this march. even better jackie’s brother from chicago was able to join us for the tramp.

but unfortunately it is no longer in the cards for me – and i’m confident that somehow this is w’s fault.

my recovery from my fracture is progressing along – but not fast enough to allow me to go on the tramp.


adding a super sized dose of salt to the wound – the NY Times featured the Milford Track in this weekend’s Sunday edition.

A Walk Through New Zealand’s Watery Wild

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day 50 update.

yesterday i went to the fracture clinic for my 7 week check up. x-rays all looked good and per my 20 year old doctor i’m now allow to start gradually bearing weight and should be crutch free in 2 weeks. now on my first day i can bear up to 7.14% of my weight.

it’s good to start fighting gravity again.

it was supposed to be my 6 week check up but the day before my original appointment i got a letter from the clinic that casually mentioned that my appointment has been shifted back *5 weeks*. i think the nurse could hear the panic in my voice when i called and appealed for something much sooner since she was able to find me an appointment later in the week.

good thing since i was starting to get a bad case of cabin fever. if i had to wait 5 weeks i knew a big wheel was in my future.


voorjaar heeft afgeveerde

spring has sprung.

today we went to the botanical gardens to see a bit of the spring festival. the highlight today was the tulips. the 25,000+ tulip garden was established in 1948 as a gift from the netherlands in appreciation for kiwi hospitality given to dutch refugees during world war ii. each year as part of the spring festival they sponsor a small celebration in the tulip garden. koffiekoeken all around!

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it was great to get out of the house and enjoy the beginning of spring.

kudos to the jboss for reserving one of the free scooters that are provided by the council at various spots across the city. i don’t think i would have enjoyed the day if i was trying to get around on my crutches.

that said i admit i found it a bit embarrassing. i probably shouldn’t have – but you can always count on little kids to say what’s on their mind. “daddy – why is that man riding in the car?”

the scooter pickup/dropoff was at the cafe at the rose garden, so whilst jackie went to fetch the car i was able to sit and enjoy the sunshine and a band playing the garden.

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extra bonus for the day was a comically bad local band that was playing at the sound shell.

really bad. nick winters bad.

SNL Bill Murray’s Star Wars @ Yahoo! Video

trust me, this is for your own good

significant progress since i’ve been back in wellington.

last week i had an appointment at the fracture clinic to meet a local orthopedic and have my staples (33!) removed – and today i went to my first physio appointment.

i’m not allowed to bear any weight on my leg for another 3+ weeks so this session is focused on restoring range of motion and preventing my leg from wasting away.

my physical therapist is very good. yes, yes – very good. did you hear that nurse? i’m telling everyone how good you are just like i promised.

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most of the session was just stretching, but at the end i spend some time on a pilates machine. not surprisingly it was a bit unpleasant – but quite dramatic improvement after just the first visit.

consistent with my experience through this entire ordeal, there is no charge for any of this care and no paperwork. just a focus on recovery.

this has led to a bit of an epiphany for me. if a little island country in the middle of the south pacific can provide quality health care for all it’s citizens, it proves what can be done – and [editorial warning] it just seems immoral for any country that has the means to not provide for the health of its people.

somehow what i see as a success others see as something to fear and mock.

MCCAIN: Well, I want to make sure we’re not handing the health care system over to the federal government which is basically what would ultimately happen with Senator Obama’s health care plan. I want the families to make decisions between themselves and their doctors. Not the federal government.


after a lifetime of advertisements from the personal injury lawyers i was well into making my list of people & organizations that had done me wrong related to my injury – and who *owed* me.
– the companies that made the skis & the bindings. i saw no warning that i could break my leg anywhere on those products.
– the ski rental shop. no explanation possible except flawed equipment and setup. nice try trying to hide this with the “friendly” staff (aka merchants of doom).
– the ski resort. fat cats making fortunes whist their customers lie strewn across their injury park.
– motel we stayed near the resort. the photos in the brochure were all smiling people enjoying their day skiing. no photos of folks on backboards being taking away in a toboggan by ski patrol. clearly bait and switch.
– ski pants manufacturer. they seemed nice and soft and i assumed would protect me from harm.
– china. i expect all that weather engineering they were doing for the olympics had an impact on us here in nz making the ice particularly hard.

but then i remembered that in new zealand coverage for my accident would be covered by the accident compensation corporation (acc) which provides personal injury cover for anyone legally in new zealand in return for losing the right to sue for damages. doh!

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i guess that’s a fair trade off. but i still think i’ll miss my day in court with the obligatory crutches and neck brace.

the acc experience shows what can be done when the lawyers and insurance companies are out of the picture. funded by payroll deductions (1.16% of salary) and auto registration fees ($204.78 / vehicle) acc covers all medical & rehab expenses and any lost salary.

as soon as we submitted the hospital provided acc forms they called right away to set up a time to drop off equipment to make life at home easier (for me a shower seat and a grabby thing to pickup items out of my reach). my acc case officer called the next day to discuss when i would be able to return to work and what support i would need as i recovered. she said their experience with my injury was that it would 84 days before i would be fully recovered. since by tuesday i was totally bored and was ready to start working from home we agreed that i didn’t need any lost salary coverage. my case officer then reviewed the other items they could help me with – taxi rides to & from work and medical appointments, any prescription medication costs, follow-up gp & ortho visits, and support for any home chores that are normally my responsibility.

my acc coverage list
– rescue helicopter
– emergency room
– surgery
– 3 days recovery in the hospital
– prescription medications
– home aids
– subsidized gp follow-up visits
– orthopedic follow-up visits
– physio
– taxi rides as needed
– home support (not required)
– lost salary coverage (not required)

total cost to me so far: $85 for the private clinic at mountain, my gp visit and some panadol (tylenol).

ward room 17

i got out of surgery early friday morning and was taken up to join the other surgical patients in ward room 17.


while the care i received was top notch, i have no doubt that anyone who is used to us hospitals would freak out upon arrival at the ward room. more than slightly dinged up institutional green paint on the walls, no bathroom, no tv, no phones – just beds and a sink.

this wing of the hospital was due to be torn down in october (not up to current earthquake code) so i understand not wanting to investing a penny more than necessary – but it was more than a bit grim.

friday and saturday passed slowly with the goal of getting off the serious pain meds and getting out of bed for my first physio sessions. i was amazed with surgery early hours friday they had me out of bed and on my crutches by friday afternoon. i also got my first chance to see the x-rays of the repair.

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despite the facility not being too flash, i have no complains about the care. the nurses were great (my primary day nurse was serrie – from the netherlands) and the anaesthesiologist stopped by twice to ensure everything was going well and the pain management was under control. i didn’t get much of the orthopedic surgeons time, but i’ll focus more on that when i am back in wellington. the equipment and meds all seems top notch – and that’s where i’d prefer they spend the money.


oh – and the hospital food did not disappoint. it was *horrible*. really.

for my first several meals the arrived without my input. each meal had a large container of whole milk. i did grow up on 2%, but i haven’t had a glass of milk in 30+ years and have only skim on my cereal. so i made sure i didn’t check the milk box when i selected my breakfast. only to discover the next day that “rice bubbles” are rice crispies and i had no milk. mmmm – rice crispies with no milk…

the other gem on the menu was “seasonal vegetables (no windy)”


come sunday i was itchin’ to go home. by early afternoon we had our discharge materials and were on the road.

it was great to be home.