Saturday, February 26, 2011

Grin and chair it: people's impression of my wheel transport was all in my mixed-up head

Went to the Vancouver Giants-Chilliwack Bruins game Friday night and learned two things: (1) the Giants don't always know what to do with the lead; and (2) I don't always know enough to ignore the voices in my head.
I should be in my seventh season covering junior hockey, and the Giants in particular, for the Province newspaper and (shameless plug for my employer), but a Solitary Plasmacytoma tumour in my T-2 vertebrae and six subsequent surgeries to put my back back together has left me on the sidelines for much of the campaign.
I made my first trip to the Pacific Coliseum since November on Friday, and was freaked out beforehand about how people were going to handle me being in a wheelchair. My strength has improved greatly in the past couple of weeks, and the good folks at G.F. Strong rehab in Vancouver are pointing to me being home by the end of March, but I just felt that the darn chair would say something completely different to everyone.
If it did, they hid it well. I did not feel any sort of pity. People were happy to see me, and happy to see Carol-Ann. We got a few brief questions about my health, and then about how Carol-Ann was doing. (That's one of the bright spots in this nightmare: the attention that Carol-Ann has received for how well she's supported me. I'm not the least little bit surprised, but it's nice to see other people picking up on the calibre of human being she is.)
Mostly, we talked about everything other than my health. We talked about hockey and about the restaurant business (Carol-Ann works for Earl's...shameless plug for her employer, who has been so amazing to us that words don't do the support justice) and about cell phones. (We sat with Lewis Buble for awhile, and the father of crooner Michael went on about how cells have changed how he communicates with his family.)
Chalk up another loss for my restless mind, which always tends to be focussed on the worst-case scenario. It was highly entertaining for us, especially when you consider that I haven't been out of VGH or G.F. Strong for any sense of time since November.
We did cheat a little, though. The Giants opened up their suite to us, so we made a beeline there, rather than try to brave the crowd of 10,000 or so -- many were there to celebrate Milan Lucic, the 2007 Memorial Cup MVP, being added to the Giants' Ring of Honour. (Special thanks to Ron and Michele Toigo for getting us into the box. Ron and son Peter were the first people to visit Carol-Ann and I when were initially admitted to VGH back in October and the Toigo family have been hugely supportive throughout our ordeal.)
We left after two periods, namely because I was worn out. I feel bad, because I wanted to see Vancouver general manager Scott Bonner, coach Don Hay and a bunch of Giant players, but they probably weren't in a visiting mood, after coughing up 2-0 and 4-2 leads in a 6-5 loss to their Fraser Valley rivals.
I do look forward to going back again sometime soon to the Coliseum soon. Next time, I'll try to leave any preconceived notions at home.

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