The Two Crabs, always suckers for free street festivals, walked through the Soho Gay Pride festival Sunday in downtown London. But unfortunately it did not live up to our expectations. I was hoping to see a parade of colorful drag queens but alas that was not the case. It was rather small. But there were a few photogenic moments like this woman waving a pink British Union Jack flag. You go, girl!
No. 19 bus upper deck view of Angel Islington, London
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.
The London heat wave has finally broken. It was barely 75 degrees today and very cloudy. Despite how dark it got, it never rained a drop today. This was taken from the upper deck of the No. 19 bus as it approached our neighborhood, Angel Islington.
From Coconut aka Lil' Joe aka Ceasbo aka Cheeky Monkey: It's been a long hot week in London. Pineapple Princess, her SanFran friend and my Parisian sister are on a week-long camping trip through Holland. So I've been having to fend for myself for food and entertainment. Mostly I've just been working longer hours and hanging out at the local pub, The Islington Tap, chatting with the bar staff.
London is still sweltering from a heat wave. I've avoid taking the Tube or bus anywhere during the day because it means having to take another shower after every trip. London's public transportation system is efficient and fast, but it's also not air conditioned. Five minutes on the Tube and you are immediately drenched in sweat. AC just wasn't on the drawing boards when the Underground first opened in 1863. And it would be too expensive to retrofit all 275 stations and hundreds of trains.
Our office was evacuated twice this week, once for a gas leak, and yesterday because the power was cut during a rolling blackout. And I thought they only had those in California! Yesterday the power was even cut in Picadilly Circus -- London's equivelent of NTC Times Square. The tourists and locals were gapping and snapping pictures of the dark buildings void of their usual neon lights and jumbotron advertisements. Then yesterday on my way home, a woman was hit by a car right in front of my building. I saw her lying on the ground being attended by paramedics, her left arm and food covered in bandages. Sorry, no photos.
We're officially moving on Aug. 1 to our new UNFURNISHED flat. That means we need to buy everything, from plates and forks to a bed. We don't have much money to spend, so we've been scouring CraigsList, Loot.com and some American expat websites for stuff. A good friend of mine who is moving back to America gave me her microwave for cheap, and another American bird sold me some lamps and an iron. I've even resorted to examining trash piles for salvageable furniture. Woe is me.
Meanwhile, for those who haven't heard: I've officially resigned from my job. My last day is Aug. 15. More on that later.
Summertime in London rocks, especially due to all the street festivals around town this time of year. Between June and September, there are at least four festivals per weekend, from small neighborhood affairs like this one in Exmouth Market in north London, to major events like the Notting Hill Festival in August which attracts nearly 1 million people (I'll never do that one again!)
This weekend we also attended the Brazilian Carnival. Photos TK
I'm sure we won't get any sympathy from those of you on the other side of the pond, sweltering in Washington's 100 degree, 100% humidity weather. But let me put it into perspective.
The average daytime high temperature in July is 70. SEVENTY!
We do NOT have air conditioning. In fact, most houses and apartments in northern Europe do NOT have aircon. Even worse, there is no air conditioning on the London Underground trains and buses. A local newspaper this week recorded temperatures of 117 on trains and 125 on buses! Let me tell you, it has NOT been fun commuting on the sardine-cramped buses and trains that reek of B.O.
On top of all this, southeast England is currently experiencing the worst drought in 100 years. We haven't seen so much as a raindrop this month.
Locals and tourists are flocking to the pools or beaches. Above, I photographed these French teenagers wading (illegally) in one of the famous fountains in Trafalgar Square, London's main town square.
Meanwhile, we're taking advantage of the nice weather. Pineapple Princess' friend from California is visiting us for a few weeks. We're planning on hitting some of the free street festivals this weekend and maybe a picnic in Hyde Park this Sunday. Photos TK!
In the meantime, my sister-in-law (still searching for a nickname for you, sis), has rightfully taken me to task for not posting photos of her visit to London/Amsterdam/Paris earlier this summer with her hubby. So here ya go!
London is currently experiencing an unusual heatwave. It was 92 today and temperatures are forecast to hit 97 on Wednesday! The average high for July is 70-72. We're also still in the middle of the worst drought in 100 years. We're going on two weeks without a drop of rain.
Summertime in London is absolutely beautiful. The city takes on a new look, the smell of barbecues fill the air, locals flock to the parks for picnics and sunbathing.
My favorite part of London are the long days of sunshine. Because we are so far north (we're on the same latitude as Newfoundland and Calgary, Canada) the sun does not set until 10pm, and it does not really get pitch-black dark until about 11pm!
All Londoners are out on the streets until late evening, even on weekdays. The outdoor tables at pubs are always packed. With school letting out this week for summer vacation, the kids are out until the wee hours, running through our neighborhood, setting off firecrackers and other forms of mischief.
This photo was taken from our living room window in beautiful Angel, Islington just before 10 in the evening. Pink sky at night = sailor's delight!
Above: BEFORE image, taken in March 2006, about a month after my ski accident in Italy. The official diagnosis was delayed-union, complete fracture of the mid-right clavicle.
I have been released from the hospital without so much as a scalpal's scratch. And all thanks to a suggestion I made to the so-called doctors.
It began on Wednesday afternoon, when a team of doctors and medical students came into my room to discuss the procedure I would undergo. After the doctor finished his spiel, he asked if I had any questions. Uh, YEAH. Like, am I going to have any pre-op X-rays? After all, it had been nearly two months since my last set of Xrays. Isn't it possible that I might have new bone growth?
The doctor looked puzzled. He came over and sat on my bed, fondling my clavicle. He poked and prodded with his thumbs, pushing my clavicle so hard that I was half-expecting a snap sound. He looked even more puzzled. "Strange, the bone seems to be moving in one independent piece just as it should, rather than two separate pieces. Does this hurt?," he asked as he pushed full-force with all his fingers.
No, I answered. It was uncomfortable to be poked but it didn't hurt, per se.
He asked his assistant why I had not been given pre-op Xrays. The assistant said it was not standard procedure and that is was very unlikely that I would have new bone growth, considering I had shown no sign of regeneation in the previous three months. In any case, I was wheeled down to radiology that evening and given a new set of xrays.
On Thursday morning about 7am, I was woken up and prepped for surgery. I was told not to eat breakfast and stand by because I would likely be going under the knife around 10am. Nobody mentioned the results of the Xrays. I fell back asleep to the sounds of CNN.
Around 9am Thursday, another doctor came into my room, his smiling face beaming. "You're never going to believe this. The most wonderful thing that could have happened has happened."
"Let me guess: My x-rays are positive for new bone growth."
YES! He practically dragged me out of my bed in my little hospital gown, took me to the nurse's station computer and pulled up the digital images of my xrays. There were at least a dozen images taken over a course of five months. The first four months of xrays were pretty much identical.
The results of the new Xrays were clear even to the untrained eye: a nice cottonball-like mass of new bone growth enveloping the break of my right clavicle. Somehow, in the past six weeks, my clavicle has begun to regenerate.
Above: AFTER IMAGE, taken on Thursday, July 13, five months to the day since my ski accident. The faint white mass around the break is new bone growth!
This is apparently very rare indeed. So rare that the doctor said my case may end up in a medical journal. The doc was as giddy as a schoolboy, practically hopping up and down as he made a copy of the xrays on my memory stick. Pack your things, you are free to go home. There would be no surgery because doing so would require rebreaking the new bone growth to attach the plate and screws.
So with that, I left the stuffy hospital and into the bright London summer sunshine. I headed straight for Starbucks and had a proper breakfast. No more hospital food. No more old-people smell. No more days of boredom. I'm free! Free to play. Free to ski. Woo hoo!
For now, everything is going well. I still am not 100% normal. I still have a visible bump on my right shoulder from the jutting bone. Doctors say the knot should become smaller after time. And I'm still not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds with my right arm, so definately no weight-lifting or furniture-moving. My arm occasionally gets sore after a long day or if I've slept on my right side, but nowhere near as bad as it was a few months ago. I have a follow-up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon in two weeks but other than that, I'm good to go.
I'm still absolutely gobsmacked and shocked that I wasn't given xrays the first day I checked into the hospital. I mean, come on. DUH! I'm no doctor but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that xrays are the first thing you should do immediately before orthopedic surgery. Thank goodness my surgery was delayed by two days, otherwise they might have cut into me and scarred me for life for no reason at all! Meanwhile I sat in the hospital for three days at tax payers' expense I'm finally beginning to understand all the complaints and criticism of Britain's National Health Service (NHS). Incompetence on top of disorganization.
Whatever. I'm just glad to get this whole mess behind me. I've regained my summer holiday and, more importantly, I've regained my shoulder. And I can still proudly say that I've never had surgery in my life.
It's tuesday morning, and the scheduled time of my surgery has come and gone. first it was pushed to 10am, now im told it wont happen until wednesday or POSSIBLY THURSDAY! delayed cuz not enuff doctors and a trauma case was pushed ahead of the que. meanwhile im sitting my bed absolutely BORED out my skull. pineapple princess took the day off work to care for me. a wasted day. btw, the airplane-style keyboard and monitor on my bed sucks, so apologies for the typos.
Despite what lots of folks have said about socialized medicine, my experience with Britain's National Health Service has been great. im blogging you from my hospital bed. i have a private room and bath, tv and internet and large room overlooking university of london, and the food is decent. lets hope the surgery is just as good.
So I just got the green light: I'm having surgery on my shattered clavicle/collarbone on Tuesday morning. But they are checking me into the hospital today, Monday.
I was just telling Pineapple Princess and her mum about how I'm more frightened of having surgery than going to Baghdad. And I'm even more frightened of being put under anesthesia than I am of the surgery itself. But on the bright side, if I die while I'm on the table, I won't know about it anyway so who cares.
The surgery itself is supposed to last just 45 minutes. Doctors will attach a plate to join my two-piece clavicle bone, and attach three screws on each side. Basically the purpose of the plate is to immobilize the clavicle to encourage bone growth. Five months since the accident, my clavicle still has no sign of new bown growth, but I've got plenty of scar tissue growing, which is not good.
Strangly, it doesn't bother me much at all. There are some days where my right shoulder is a bit sore, but nothing more than you'd get after a heavy work-out at the gym. But to this day, I still can't lift anything more than 20 pounds with my right arm. When I've tried, it feels like a tear and burning sensation in my right arm. But I have full mobility of my right arm and shoulder.
Assuming all goes as planned, I should be home by Tuesday evening. After that, my right arm will be in a "cuff and collar" (sling) for 4-6 weeks. After that, I should be "cured." It would be nice to get back to normal, and in time for the next ski season! But it's going to suck basically having my arm in a sling for a good part of the summer. And London summers are GORGEOUS: not too hot, not too cold. Average temperatures about 82 and the sun doesn't go down until 10:30 pm!
I'll post more when I get out but wish me luck.