The story starts way before that but let’s begin with the beam episode. So!… the 500+ pound beam is coming towards me and options to escape are limited. Jumping down the scaffoldings is the more obvious and I decide to go with it. In North Vancouver, on mid-day of July 17 2014, I found myself on the ground. My landing was awful, painful and sorrowful. Everything ‘ful’ but graceful.
I ended up at the hospital with a double fracture on the pelvis and a compression fracture on vertebra L1. The heavy beam could have followed me and crush many more bones. Thinking of it now, six months after the accident, I consider myself lucky; I’m still alive and my recovery seems to follow the happy path. But the number of reasons to feel lucky grows every day. This little incident makes me appreciate more ‘who’ I have. What I have is not so important. I first want to thank my close family: my partner Lucie, my kids Élyse and Samuel and my parents. Like a good spine, they’ve always been very supportive. I also want to thank my coworker Paul and his family. They kindly shared their house with me for over a month so I could have a safe nest for the first stage of my recovery. Thanks to Kristy who generously opened the doors of her sweet little home in Nanaimo, where I could recover peacefully. Thanks to Brenda, a great swimming sister, who helped me discover the beauties of Nanaimo and its surroundings. Coming from the Mainland, I was lucky to have both Brenda and Kristy helping make my recovery a much more interesting experience. Many thanks to all my friends around (some of them named The Cliffers) whose presence and supportive messages have been so important. Special thanks to Daniela and Don who lent me their sweet suite when I needed it most. Merci à Grant who generously gave me a La-Z-Boy so I could recline, relax and recuperate. Thanks to our health care system and to the medical support, from the ambulance driver to every specialist involved in my case. Thanks also to my therapists Angelina, Janice and John.
I improved a lot since I first started physiotherapy and January 30 will be my last day in the Back to Work Program, a four hour a day program from Monday to Friday where I work on body strength and flexibility. Part of it also includes simulation of movements and tasks required by my job.
As a carpenter, I want to make sure that my coming back won’t be another sad story. So I decided to take a few more weeks by myself to try to gain every little bit of extra strength and endurance I could. Doing what my body and mind like to do will be the plan. Let’s go swimming! Swimming opportunities on the Island are great. There is not more pools than anywhere else but ocean swimming spots are countless. So I decided that, in order to make the training more enjoyable, I was going to stick with salt water. To make it even more fun and useful, I’m planning to visit a new spot every day. Therefore, this scouting along the 49th parallel will help find new interesting playgrounds for our Swim book.
This is where the Swim Van Project begins. I now own a Toyota Matrix which is a nice little car but having a van would allow me to camp around more comfortably. We’ll see how it goes but here is the plan. I’m now in a shopping mode. After doing a bit of research, the Toyota Previa was my first choice but they’re older vehicles and there are not so many around. Availability with the Toyota Sienna is greater so I might go with this one. A van between years 2000 and 2003 should be affordable enough to suit my budget. There is many more choices on the Lower Mainland so the challenge is to keep my Matrix to get around easily, find the right Sienna then sell the Matrix as soon as possible to get a bit of travelling money.
The inside renovation of the van will be the second step. Taking out all the rear seats then looking at the most efficient way to get some storage and living space out of it. I might as well kill two birds with one rock by thinking ahead and building a compartment for my tools. The van will also be useful for my job when I go back. Furthermore, this small building project seems to be a good way to slowly get myself into a real ‘go back to work’ mode. However, there won’t be any fussiness around this refit as the main plan is to gain the most out of the swimming training.
I will keep you posted on what’s coming…