Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's Canada Day!

I’ve always been proud to be a Canadian. This is probably a combination of the fact that my parents were immigrants from Europe and all the Remembrance Day related footage I watched on TV as a kid. However, in latter years, my sense of identity as a Canadian has been heightened by living overseas in Burkina Faso. This is probably the case for any person who suddenly finds himself or herself in the minority as a stranger in a strange land. It certainly was for me.

In Burkina, we’re always invited to celebrate Canada Day at the Canadian ambassador’s residence. We receive a specially embossed invitation and go on the appointed evening to enjoy free food and drinks, hobnob with diplomats and government officials as well as fellow Canadians, and hear a speech from the ambassador. Apart from the fact that we hardly know anyone else there and feel a little ill at ease in such company, it’s a great evening! One time, we were even interviewed by a local TV station, with the result that the Burkinabe men & women attending a seminar on our centre in which I was taking part thought that I was an important Canadian diplomat as well as a linguist!

We always look forward to Canada Day celebrations when we return home, especially the first one. It takes on a whole new meaning after several years of absence. I remember one in particular. We’d arrived back in Canada at the end of June and were looking forward to the fireworks display in the town of Bracebridge. It turned out to be one of the coldest firsts of July on record! We absolutely froze our buns off! At first we thought it was just us, having just come from Burkina’s hottest season of the year. But then we saw even local people wrapping themselves up in winter coats, blankets, and sleeping bags! It was a great fireworks display, but we all lost no time in getting on the road home when it was over.

Kathy & I are looking forward to what will be our last Canada Day in Canada for a few years. We’d like to see some nice fireworks one last time and hope to catch the ones here in Barrie this evening. However, I spent the first four hours of this day on a stretcher in the local hospital with an IV running into my arm. Saturday morning, in playing with our cat, I received a deep puncture wound from one of his teeth in my hand. It hurt, but we had a “Welcome to Ouagadougou!” presentation to set up for in Toronto, and I had a lot of stuff to carry for that. This probably did not do my hand any favours.

By the next day it was beginning to turn red and swell, and I was popping Tylenol to help manage the pain. We had a great time putting on the presentation for the members of Lisle Memorial Baptist Church, and they really got into it. However, my hand continued to swell and suffered more trauma as I shook hands with several people and carried out our skits.

By Monday evening, my hand had swollen to nearly twice its normal size and red lines were running up my arm. Kathy convinced me to go to the emergency department immediately. Several hours later, the doctor took one look at it and immediately prescribed an intravenous antibiotic treatment, with another one scheduled for tonight. Hope I can get out in time for us to see the fireworks!

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