Friday, March 6, 2009

Car-free Friday

Our first car-free Friday post is by Jason and is all about Father Bill and yak-trax. Hope you enjoy it!

Guest post today from Jason:

Christina and I had a chance to sample a product this week that I have wanted for some time but could never bring myself to buy (mainly because I'm just plain cheap). This is one of those products that costs relatively little but could literally save your life. So let me introduce the topic with a little story about my father-in-law:

Father Bill, as I call him, has a strange relationship with accidents around the house. I don't think he likes them per se, but I think he's come to welcome them despite the pain and suffering they cause. Why, you might ask, would someone welcome an accident? Well, you see, it was about 8 or 9 years ago that through a series of unfortunate events, a simple accident saved Father Bill's life. Yes, an accident actually saved his life. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself...

It had been a long, cold Nova Scotia winter, one that seemed like it might never end (or I could just be making this up). But finally the crocuses and daffodils had started pushing their way up through the frozen ground, offering the first splash of color to what promised to be a delightful spring. Father Bill, as is his wont, and not unlike many Nova Scotians at this time of year, was thumbing his nose at Old Man Winter by busying himself repairing those things that winter tends to try to tear down. It was thus that Father Bill found himself perched precariously upon a ladder, which may or may not have been balanced on top of a section of roof, attempting to change the soffit lights above his garage.

- I know you see where this is going. -

Yes, Father Bill, sitting high upon the proverbial wall tumbled down and had a great fall. Fortunately, the damage was not nearly what it could have been. Unfortunately, Father Bill needed a swift trip to Emergency to have the pieces of his broken wrist put back together again. Unfortunately, during the course of the exam, the doctors found a hernia which would need to be surgically repaired. Unfortunately, Father Bill's heart stopped during the ensuing surgery. Fortunately, he didn't die and the doctors were able to identify what had caused the problem. The diagnosis: Cardiomyopathy. Father Bill's heart was functioning at about 16% of its full capacity, and only major intervention would prevent his untimely death. The prognosis was that Bill could check-out unexpectedly pretty much at any moment. But that was almost 9 years ago now. Nine blessed years of life (and counting!) owed to an innocent little mishap. Believe me when I say that my kids are glad that Grandpa fell of that ladder! (Of course, I may be embellishing a little. Someone may want to do a little fact-checking.)

And perhaps this is why Father Bill does so little to prevent accidents from occurring. In fact, I think he's convinced that accidents are actually good for his health in the long run because I can't figure out why the man doesn't do more to prevent them. Let me explain.

Nova Scotian winters are known to be cold and icy, and judging by the number of Bluenosers who love a game of shinny (and the cars that sometimes find their way into the drink), a little slipping-and-sliding is to be expected during the icy months. And perhaps, Father Bill, being a born and bred Haligonian, has simply come to accept that ice (and accidents) are a part of life. Nothing else can explain why the man has subjected himself to two, yes two, major ice-falls this winter.

Mother Nature tried to teach him a lesson when she slammed him down headfirst for a concussion and half a dozen stitches, but Father Bill wasn't listening. So in round two she asked him to try a dislocated shoulder and torn biceps muscle on for size. The jury's still out on this one, but Mother Nature may run out of winter before the verdict is in on whether Father Bill has learned his lesson.

But here's the thing, risking life and limb on the ice should be a thing of the past (and, no, that is not a statement of my opinion on hockey) because man has invented a way to beat the ice, and it's called Yak Trax. Funny name, I know, but totally appropriate considering its sure-footed namesake. You see, wearing Yak Trax is like putting tire chains on your shoes. Consider them winter tires for your feet, except you won't have to pay Canadian Tire to take them on and off. When I heard about Father Bill's first tussle with the ice this winter, I immediately thought we should get him a pair. Having witnessed first-hand yet another Father Bill ice-slip incident a few years ago in which he only fell down the front steps, I knew the man could use a little help.

Now here's where it gets really funny: Father Bill already owns a pair.

I was lucky enough to try a pair of Yak Trax for free this winter thanks to Greenpa's blog and a good-hearted woman known only as Carolyn (Yak Trax, if you're listening, the woman deserves a raise. She's that good.) Many of you know that the PNW has been socked with its worst winter in a half-century or so. Many times this winter I wished I'd had a pair of Yak Trax as I slipped and slided on the ice covered sidewalks, but I just couldn't seem to bring myself to buy a pair. After my first use, however, and knowing about Father Bill's accidents, I was kicking myself that I'd waited so long.

My first use of my new Yak Trax consisted of an early morning walk to the grocery store about a mile away on a very chilly morning that saw all walking surfaces covered with a sheet of glare ice. And though it may seem just too perfect, I kid you not when I say I saw two different people slip on ice and nearly fall. I, on the other hand, had no issues whatsoever despite purposely looking for the most slippery spots and walking over both areas where I had seen the two unfortunates come close to a Father Bill-experience.

So, if you live anywhere ice could be a problem, I think you should seriously consider buying yourself a pair - no matter how cheap you are. (Hey, Carolyn may even send you a pair for free if you agree to review them on your blog. She may change her mind, however, if you share long, convoluted stories about your father-in-law.)

I know I'm cheap, but sometimes I really need some help when it comes to being penny-wise and pound foolish. I mean, really - I'll pay $xx dollars every month so my family will be taken care of in case I die, but I wasn't willing to pay $20 once for something that might actually save my life?! (Anybody remember Dr. Atkins???) Where's the logic in that?

Thank you, Carolyn and thank you, Yak Trax. And thanks Father Bill ... Well, anyway, thanks to everyone at Dartmouth General Hospital for taking care of Father Bill.

Father Bill, God bless you; you know I love you.


Let the party begin... said...

Darren and I have been running all winter and I have seen other runners using them but we could never really afford them. There were times when I wished we had them for the days we have gone for our run and thought for sure one or both of us would end up with a broken leg or worse. I will definitely check it out with the hopes that we can at least get one set if not both. That was a great post, by the way, lol. Let's hope Father Bill make it through the rest of the winter without anymore mishaps.

Sweetest Of All said...

Okay, I read every single word, hoping upon hope that at the end of this wonderful story telling there would be a picture of Uncle Jason swashing ridiculously around in a pair of Yak TRAX!!!

I'm sorely disappointed! In return we'd like to request a before and after shot - you falling on your rumpus and then wearing your life saving gear!

Katherine said...

So I have had my own run in with the ice. Let's just say that with 4 dislocated ribs, a concussion (self diagnosed), and residual back problems, that the ice won. What's more is that I didn't know I had done anything more than my concussion until Thanksgiving. My fall happened in the beginning of October. Luckily for me that was about 3 years ago and I have not yet fallen again with such severity. I hope that Father Bill will be able to have more fortune and be on Mother Nature's good side for the ensuing winters.

Honey said...

It's great to hear from you, Jason! Great post.

(And, Canadian Tire made me smile. Thanks.)

Kati said...

Jason, you're hilarious! :)

Yaktrax said...

Just checking in to see how your Yaktrax are fairing this season! Hope things are going well!

Happy Trails,