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April, 2012

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Hockey Rehab (Day 25): The road to the NHL…

They want you to be Jesus. They’ll go down on one knee. But they’ll want their money back, if you’re alive at thirty-three…

Somewhere on the Eastern shore of Japan The puck drops tonight to usher in the second round of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, and with it eight more teams take to the golf courses for the summer. I kind of feel like a hockey player in the sense that my attention has been focused on trying to make the most constructive use of my offseason, so that when the 2012-13 hockey season hits, I may actually be able to be a part of it.

It is very telling that the first thing I did when I moved into my Japanese aparto last June was tack my yearly schedule to the wall. Since then I have been crossing off the days one by one like some sort of jailbird counting down to the day I would finally be able to move on to something new. The most disheartening feeling I felt all year was when I finally crossed that last day off in March, and realized that I had willing signed on to do the whole thing again. I look at my wall tonight and I am slightly comforted by the fact that another month has finally been filled with the dark black lines that I have meticulously scrawled across the page since I got back from my last stint in Hockey Land. I guess you could say that deep down I never really wanted to be here in the first place.

I definitely moved to Korea and Japan for totally different reasons. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t running from something when I moved to Korea. I was. Maybe I’m still running a little. But running definitely wasn’t the reason I moved here. This was more of a practical move, and I “knew” coming in it was going to be short term. Funny how things change, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that if I make it to March 22nd, I won’t be staying longer than that. 1 month down… 11 to go…

My successful journey on the road back to the land of ice and hockey relies on a lot of things falling into place first. My passport must be dealt with – a process that I know will cause me a lot of grief until July. But, hey, on the plus side I finally strong armed my company into giving me the day off that I needed. How you ask? By threatening to quit in a most menacing manner. You’ve probably noticed I tend to have… ahem… a “way with words” when I’m viciously unimpressed. Anyway that’s one less thing to have to sort out at the moment. Actually getting the passport done is another. By the way, I really hope my CANADIAN passport doesn’t come back with “TOKYO” listed as the Issuing Authority because I can already see the looks on the US border guards’ faces when they see that coupled with my GERMAN place of birth. I may never be allowed to see an American hockey game again!

Health was another issue that needed to be sorted out. I talked openly about the health problems I was having in Korea. I threw the C-word out there, and then decided to stop talking about it. I guess part of me believes that you are what you think about, and I didn’t want everyone encountering this site to come away from it thinking that I was a very sick person, and thereby putting all that energy out into the universe. Besides, I didn’t feel sick. I’m not really sure what happened to me in Korea, but a lot of the foreigners there were getting sick. There were young people with cancer, tumors, persistent illnesses, all sorts of things. Totally unrelated to my C-word scare, I was also afflicted with what I referred to as my “Korean Skin Condition.” Out of nowhere I started getting these huge welts on the back of my legs. Sounds hot, eh? Yet I was still getting some on a regular basis so go figure LOL.

The thing was my health situation never actually changed (the welts disappeared when I came home, though), which was really frustrating. I started to wonder if I was ever going to return to full strength, and it really made me resent how my health was now in charge of the decisions I made in my life. So I went to Japan anyway, even though I was still in the exact same position I was when I was in Korea. The one good thing about this was that I was forced to have to return home at Christmas to get all my tests and things done again, so I got to squeeze 5 (good) hockey games out of the mess. But then something strange happened…

*** Here’s the rant portion of this Hockey Rehab entry ***

I had been working my ass off trying to get healthy. I thought I could just try to lead a healthier lifestyle. Be a little more active, you know? I figure it couldn’t hurt. There was a point where I was getting up at 5AM just so I could walk the 23 kms to work. That didn’t last long, though. Not because I couldn’t handle it, but because after work I didn’t (and don’t) want to have to walk 2 hours to get home. I just wanted to BE home! Plus my Japanese co-workers literally “freaked out” that I had been walking. I had managed to strip off 18 lbs which sounds more impressive than it is because I’m 5’9” and, generally, I have to lose or gain 15 lbs for anyone to even SLIGHTLY notice. Anyway, I was sure that I had finally fixed myself. I knew come December my results were going to be negative, and all would be right in the world. But they weren’t…

After I got back to Japan I started calling regularly for my results, but they were always mysteriously “still at the lab.” Normally these results take 7-10 days, so after pushing 3 weeks, I started to suspect the things had gone missing. Then one day I got a phone call from a specialist that wanted to see me about the results. But this guy didn’t administer the tests, so I was kind of freaking out that something REALLY bad had happened that they basically sent my stuff off to a specialist without even talking to me first because it was so urgent. However, once I actually started talking to the bitch-nurse at my doctor’s office it started to become clear that something strange had happened at the lab. My results indicated that the specialist had performed the test when he hadn’t (which was why he called me and not MY doctor), and on top of it the date of the test was wrong. Yet, they kept insisting to me that these were basically typos and they knew these were my results. These results indicated that I had taken a turn for the worst…

So now I HAD to come home again in March, when really I was dying for a sun destination vacation. Again the silver lining was that I got to see another 5 hockey games. Yeah, so don’t think I couldn’t cut the hockey cord or anything! The real reason I flew back to NHL Land twice in 3 months was for medical purposes. Anyway… I couldn’t get an appointment at the hospital before April 3rd, and I had to be on a plane no later than April 4th. With games in both Detroit and Belleville on April 1st AND 2nd, those last few days at home were REALLY chaotic. The hospital visit was an altogether unpleasant experience that I’d rather not discuss, and according to my hospital bracelet I was a very sick person when I checked in.

The doctor seemed puzzled by the fact that she couldn’t see anything wrong with me, but she still took a damn knife to me regardless! The rest of my short time at home was obviously a bit unpleasant after that. I even threw up violently that night while having to head to the airport the next morning. Not fun. Anyway the doctor told me to call her in 3 weeks for the results… And I did so… 2 days ago…

I am pleased to announce (for any of you who cared enough to wonder what had happened since I first mentioned the C-word 16 months ago) that I have finally been cleared, and much like my passport fiasco, this is another weight that has been lifted. Of course, I suspect that I have actually been OK since (at least) December, and that those ugly results that came in weren’t actually mine. Kind of makes you wonder if there is some poor lady out there with cancer that thinks she’s in the clear because she got my results instead. But then again… Perhaps this was the handiwork of those rascally hockey gods trying to ensure that I’d get some more hockey in before the season came to a close.

Yes, it’s starting to feel like things are beginning to fall into place like the black lines that I scratch onto my wall every night. The only thing that remains is trying to figure out what I want to do with myself when I’m finally ready to take flight and leave this place for good. Naturally I am always torn between my lust for hockey and my lust for wandering. So, it will be interesting to see what side will win out when that final black line falls onto the page. Tick tock.

P.S. No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup contention, so I’m all about a Preds/Flyers Final! I’ve got Nashville on the brain a lot these days it seems…

Top Photo: My final failed attempt at a 17 y/o disguise prior to my last hockey game of the season on April 2nd, and the eve before scalpels and unpleasantness…

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