Now and again Im reminded how small Whistler is, especially for a former city girl like me.
Recently I heard a municipal councillor talk about becoming a public figure and I realized that when you live in a small town everyone is a public figure to some extent. Its a fact of small town life that Im still getting used to.
Let me explain.
Last summer I was sitting at my desk at home on a Sunday afternoon furiously working on a story when I got an aching pain on the left side of my body just above my hip.
Thinking I had been hunched over my computer far too long I got up for a stretch. When that didnt work I curled into a ball and prayed for relief in the fetal position.
That didnt work either and I began to feel the rising panic growing in the pit of my stomach. What the hell was wrong with me and where the hell is my appendix anyway I thought to myself? A number of frightening scenarios flashed through my head only to settle on the idea that I was surely suffering from a terrible illness of some sort.
Then the pain disappeared. Logically I believed myself cured and sat back down in front of my computer.
Not long after the pain was back and this time around it was terrible.
My boyfriend said it was time to go to the Whistler Health Care Centre.
"But Ive interviewed some of those doctors and nurses," I whined.
"What if they recognize me and know who I am and then theyll all know that theres something wrong with me."
Clearly it was the pain speaking.
Soon it was so bad that I just didnt care who knew what was wrong with me.
Off to the health centre we went. I was rolling around the car in agony. He was rolling his eyes at my theatrics and I got the slight sense that he thought I was over-reacting and making a big deal about nothing. (I have been known to overreact in the past, I suppose.)
Anyway it was a Sunday afternoon in the summer time and I presume the doctors and nurses were busy with the usual mountain bike carnage because we were in the waiting room for an awfully long time.
I couldnt sit still, pacing the room, trying not to cry and doing my best to stay calm in the face of the great unknown.
Then the pain disappeared.
"Its gone. Lets get out of here and go home," I whispered to my boyfriend.
Though he told me it wasnt a good idea I convinced him otherwise.
"Cmon," I said. "What am I going to say to the doctor? I had a pain in my side and now its gone. He or she is going to think Im an idiot and what if Ive interviewed them before or have to interview them in the future."
I must have made a convincing argument because soon we were on our way back to Emerald.
Its only my luck that as soon as I walked in the front door, the pain returned and we were on our way back to the hospital. (Are you surprised that I havent been dumped yet? Me too.)
This time I was crying and was shown straight into a bed.
As if I wasnt embarrassed enough about potentially running into someone I talk to on a professional basis, the nurse then gave me a huge pair of sunshine yellow polyester shorts to wear in case I needed a x-ray.
I still shudder at the indignity of the whole scene.
At one point I was hugging the toilet trying not to be sick and at the same time trying to keep my huge shorts up, when a nurse I know walked in. I had forgotten to lock the door.
"Oh sorry Alison," she said as she quickly closed the door.
Foiled again. She knew who I was and more importantly, she knew there was something wrong with me.
After all the drama it turns out I had a kidney stone.
I never imagined I would have a kidney stone. I thought those were things that only grumpy old men had to deal with, surely not a young person in the prime of their life.
Anyway, at least I wasnt on the verge of death and the percocets went a long way in cheering me up too.
Its amazing how quickly someone can change as soon as the painkillers kick in. One minute I was clutching my side convinced I was on my way to the operating room, the next minute I was full of smiles.
One of the nurses explained to my boyfriend that the pain I had experienced was the equivalent of him giving birth and with that simple explanation I had a boyfriend who was no longer rolling his eyes but rushing over himself trying to make me comfortable. In retrospect I should have sent that nurse a fruit basket.
My kidney stone was an eye opening experience.
First of all I realized that it doesnt really matter if the doctors and nurses know you on a personal or professional basis.
They are only concerned with trying to make you better and thats always nice to remember. And, as a small aside, they do a great job at that.
More importantly though, Whistler is just a small town despite the millions who come here every year and like all small towns it has its share of gossips and critics.
Im reminded of a quote from Pride and Prejudice, one of my old favourites, which has always stuck with me.
"For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?'
I guess thats why I write these columns telling people personal things about my experience in Whistler. You have to laugh at yourself every once in a while.
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