Archive | June 2013

Burn progress pics

It’s been just shy of two weeks since my burn accident.
I’m surprised with how fast my skin has been healing. That’s not to say that the scars are going to fade anytime soon. I think I’m going to have scars for a few months.

I burnt myself on June 12, and a week later this is what my arm looked like: I had no skin:

From Burn progress

It was just red raw – and it hurt. Super sensitive to movement and especially painful to get it wet. Made showering very difficult.

From Burn progress

The area around the burn felt like it had been badly bruised.

This is how my thigh looked, one week after the burn incident:

From Burn progress

And this is what it looked like with cream applied liberally to it:

From Burn progress

I’ve only had to go to the hospital once in the last week. I have to go back again sometime this week for another check up.
I’ve been using prescribed creams. I’m on my third different cream now.

The skin on my arm is healing really well. It’s looking less raw and I can fully immerse it in water.
This was about 3 days ago:

From Burn progress
From Burn progress

And this is how it looked about 30 minutes ago (today):
It now has skin!

From Burn progress
From Burn progress

And this is how my thigh looks today:

From Burn progress
From Burn progress

Hope the scars will fade eventually. Pretty unsightly.

If you’re going to burn yourself though, make sure you do it at work. Workers Comp all the way. I haven’t had to pay a single yen for half a dozen hospital visits, medical treatment and prescription creams etc. It has been surprisingly easy to do consider I had to fill in the forms all in Japanese (my written Japanese is worse than a 3 year old) and do all the hospital visits on my own.

Hopefully will be back swimming soon. I haven’t been able to hit the pool for the last two weeks whilst my body has been trying to repair new skin.

Mikurajima: Dolphin swimming

Ticked off another of the Izu islands over the weekend – Miyakejima.
We camped on Miyakejima island, but went on a boat out to Mikurajima for some dolphin swimming.
Despite my burn injury I was determined to go on this trip. It had been in the works for a while and I had already paid for it, and I couldn’t not go and see dolphins.
We took the overnight ferry from Tokyo, and arrived on Miyakejima island at 5am. We got shuttled to the campsite, pitched up the tent, and after some bumming around and lunch, we went out for some dolphin swimming.

With the burn injury, I had resolved that I would not end up going in the water and would be confined to the boat which would have been a real shame. Much to my luck, I was able to rent a drysuit so I could at least get in the water for a quick dip.

I’ve never worn a dry suit before and geez, what an ordeal that was. It took TWO people to help me get into it. On top of that I had waterproofed up my burns. I did not want to think about getting out of the dry suit. I was afraid they might have to cut me out of it.

Anyway, the highlight of this camping trip was the heading out to Mikurajima to swim with dolphins. Mikurajima is a small island, home to only about 200 people, but what they lack in human numbers, is made up for with a population of about 100 or so dolphins that live in the waters surrounding the island.

From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming

Mikurajima island:

From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming

Feast your eyes (not your appetite) on these dolphins:

First up the underwater shots – which was a little tricky. It was pretty impossible to freedive in a drysuit. I was super bouyant and just floundering on the water’s surface. Some of the dolphins got quite close and even saw a couple of baby dolphins.

Mama dolphin and baby dolphin:

From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming

You can very faintly see the dolphin:

From Dolphin swimming

Two dolphins get close:

From Dolphin swimming

Spot the dolphin:

From Dolphin swimming

I couldn’t stay too long in the water, so eventually had to go back onto the boat. Got to see pods of dolphins.

From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming

Why do dolphins have to look like sharks on the water’s surface. It’s deceptive!

From Dolphin swimming

Seven dolphins in the one frame:

From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming

Some of the dolphins got real close alongside the boat:

From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming

Humans in the water:

From Dolphin swimming

The dolphins come to play:

From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming

Sun between the clouds:

From Dolphin swimming
From Dolphin swimming

Will definitely have to go back there at some point, when I am burn-free.

Aussie Afternoon Tea at Sir Stamford

Am very behind on my afternoon tea reviews.
This is one that I did back in Sydney over the Christmas break….yeah, yeah, I know, that was over 6 months ago. But better late than never.
I figured I should probably get these up on the blog before my next Sydney trip rolls around which I realised is only a couple of months away.

First up was Afternoon Tea at the Sir Stamford Hotel. One of my Christmas presents from my dad was a high tea at a venue of my choice. There is no shortage of high tea venues in Sydney – there are soooo many of them, so it’s hard to prioritize which one to go to. I spent weeks researching which one to go to. I decided on the Sir Stamford Hotel near Circular Quay.

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

I definitely enjoyed this one – good food and good company.
I went along with my one of my best friends – Nell, my dad and his SO.
We splurged and went for the Elegance High Tea which included champagne.

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

Afternoon teas in Sydney aren’t cheap. In fact, Sydney is not a cheap place at all. I actually think living in Tokyo is cheaper.

Afternoon tea here is served at The Bar. Not A Bar, THE Bar:

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

Inside The Bar:

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

It’s a traditional style bar with quite the masculine feel to it. No florally, feminine furnishings.

Bring on the champagne:

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

High Tea Tiers all round:

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

Yum, yum, yum. I love Aussie afternoon teas. Yummy savoury morsels.

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

Generous portion of smoked salmon and caviar:

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

This curry pastry puff was the best. Could have had me a lot more of these. I think these were a winner all round:

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

The sweets round:

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

As always, I save the scones for last. Aussie scones are the best. I dream of Aussies scones. I salivate at the thought of them. No where else does scones better than Sydney. In Sydney, we like a scones fluffy, not dry and hard. I’ve had high tea in about 8 different countries and none compare to Aussie scones.
This is what scones should look like:

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

And yes, us Aussies like to dust our scones with icing sugar. Simply, the bomb! Can’t say the same for the guava jam that was served with it. Keep it simple, folks. Nothing beats strawberry jam.

From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea
From Sir Stamford Hotel Afternoon Tea

The only downside to note about afternoon tea in Australia, is that you generally can’t sample different teas. Gotta choose one tea blend and stick with it, although they will usually allow hot water refills (just don’t burn yourself).

Afternoon tea here was classic and solid.

I’ve got another two Sydney venues to write up about….plus get thinking about the next venue for my next Sydney visit.

Burn, baby, burn

Burn, baby, burn.
And burn I did.
Had quite the dramatic and traumatic experience this week.
One minute life is all good and dandy, the next minute you’re in the emergency room at the hospital.

Wednesday afternoon at about 5.05-5.10pm, I was at work and was just sitting down to a nice cup of tea,as you do, when all of a sudden before I knew it, I was wearing the tea.
I had 100 degree scalding boiling hot water on me. The initial shock made by jump up from my seat. My initial realization was that I was wet, and then it dawned on me that I was also burnt. The water temperature was literally and actually 100 degrees – no hyperbole. We have these electric pots at work which display the water temp. The temp is usually set to 100 degrees. (Although I’ve noticed in the last 2 days since the accident that the temp. has been set at 90 degrees). The water is so hot that you can’t hold the paper cup, and you have to use two paper cups. Also, the water should not be that hot, because as most tea connisseurs would know, you shouldn’t use boiling water for tea and I’ve noticed that the tea I have at work is less than perfect because it’s always too hot. Let me tell you, there is MASSIVE difference between 80 degree water and 100 degree water especially when it’s all over your body.

The hot water had poured onto my left arm and my lap (as I was sitting in a chair, and the cup of boiling water had been knocked into my lap and thighs).
My first thought was first aid and to get out of these pants which were saturated with boiling water and clinging to my legs.
I ran to the HR dept and said I need ice and pants. Get me a change of clothes. I was in dire need of stripping out of my clothes.

They took into my the rest bay/bed area (which I didn’t even know our office had one). I took off my pants, whimpered in pain until ice was brought to me. I was basically burning alive, with no relief whatsoever.
I needed a change of pants. They brought me change of pants – a pair of gym pants. I swear they were a kids size. It was goddamn ridiculous. I was never going to get into them.
I semi squeezed into them, but they were so frickin tight that it made my burnt legs worse to have such tight fabric clinging to my skin.
It was like a comedy of errors, except not so funny. It was a choice of wearing pants that were 5 times too small for me, or put back on my saturated boiling water pants. The wet boiling pants it was then.
Meanwhile, the skin on my arm was shredding off me.

This is how my arm looked immediately after the boiling water made contact with my skin:

From Burn, baby, burn

This is what it looked like the next day:

From Burn, baby, burn

I felt like I was dying. I had been scalded by boiling hot water to half my body. My left arm and both legs.
I needed a hospital.

One of the ladies at work got in a taxi with me and took me to the nearest hospital which thankfully is only five minutes away.
We got to emergency and basically waited for 2 hours to be attended to. Meanwhile, I am crying and slowing dying. I am sitting on a chair in the waiting room of the hospital, with skin peeling from my arm, still in my wet boiling pants.
Thankfully, I am given more ice. Yes, just ply with me ice. Bucket loads of ice. I need to numb the pain stat. The pain was so freaking excruciating.
Still no one attended to me. Was feeling mighty angry and neglected.

Waiting with bags of ice in my lap:

From Burn, baby, burn

Finally after a 2 hour wait, I am taken to a little cubicle in the emergency room, where I can finally get out of my pants. They give me a nightgown robe. Give me more ice, more ice, more ice. Soo much pain. Get me morphine whilst you’re at it! Stat!
They took my temperature, blood pressure etc, and hooked me up one of those heart rate monitors thingies taped to my finger.
The hospital I was at, is actually a university hospital so it was full of med student interns. Seriously, I felt like I had walked onto the set of Scrubs.
I had an audience of 5 students observing me and then questioning me. Geez. Treatment now. Questions later. Get your priorities right. So basically had to answer a bunch of questions through tears and whimpering.

Basically, there wasn’t a lot they could do for me, as their priority is just primary care. Ice, ice and cooling down the burns. I basically just had to sit through the pain.
I was eventually kicked out of emergency into another room somewhere. They put some kind of cream on my burns which made me cry in pain. The application of the cream directly onto my burnt skin was worse than the burn itself. They then bandaged the burns and finally gave me some painkillers. Praise the lord. They could have given me the painkillers whilst I was in the waiting room for 2 hours. I was told to come back the next day to see the skin specialist so feel free to leave.

Here are my bandaged legs at the hospital:

From Burn, baby, burn

I had no strength to walk, let alone leave the hospital. I basically just kept sitting in a room trying to muster enough strength to leave and get a taxi home. I was in a world of excruciating pain. I literally wanted to die. I would have given anything for the burning pain to subside.

I needed to get out of the hospital for my morale’s sake. My concern was that I would not make it through the night due to the pain if I went home.
Eventually mustered enough strength to walk out the hospital door and straight into a taxi for the 60dollar ride home! Mind you, I was still pantless, dressed in the hospital gown to cover myself somewhat, with bags of ice wedged between my thighs. Finally got home, just packed myself with ice, took painkillers and then passed out and had a surprisingly fitful night’s sleep. I was exhausted and fatigued from the shock.

Quite the traumatic experience.
I’ve been to the hospital every day since for check-ups and change of wound dressings and cream etc.
I have second-degree burns.

On Wednesday (day of the accident), my legs were red and the burning pain was off the charts:
It’s suprising that they went from this, initially (where the most pain was had):

From Burn, baby, burn

to this: the next day (Thursday): this is how my legs looked.

From Burn, baby, burn

Surprisingly not as bad as I thought. It’s interesting, that you can’t tell what the burn mark will look like until the next day.

I am pleased to report that I am totally ok. I have full mobility. And have been at work everyday since.
My arm burn is quite deep, and very sore and sensitive. Hurts to shower, and I whimper and curse every time the hospital staff have to clean it. It will take considerable time to heal.
My legs are totally fine apart from some superficial ugliness – mostly just burn marks….hopefully I will be able to reduce the scarring because it’s not particularly pretty to look at.

Moral of the story: Drink beer. Not hot tea. Tea is hazardous to your health. You can’t burn yourself with beer.

Seriously, though it’s quite shocking how this size cup of boiling water (probably same or less than a softdrink can – 375ml):

From Burn, baby, burn

can do this much damage!

From Burn, baby, burn

Skin is overrated, right? Man, if only I could “burn” fat just as easily. Seriously need to after looking at photos of my thighs! Just the motivation I need to whip my arse into shape.

Unfortunately, this means no swimming for a little while (I’m hoping only a week). But I am actually super genki and even going camping this weekend. (I think denial of pain is the best treatment.)

And needless to say, I haven’t had a hot beverage since the accident. But a craving for a cuppa tea is gonna kick in soon, I’m sure.

Matsuzaki-Iwachi beach OWS

Another week, another swim.
After last’s week double race in one day, less than a week later I was off doing another swim. Unfortunately, it was my worst. swim. ever.
The day, however, was still awesome nevertheless.
Awesome location, stunning weather and fun company.

I’ve finally found a group of ocean swimming friends in Tokyo. Happy days! It was quite the gaijin brigade. There was about 15 of us who swam on the day.
We even rented a van for the day to make the 4-hr trip down to Iwachi beach (Matsuzaki in Izu). We had to meet at a ridiculously early time, but yay for road trips and meeting new people. Beats taking the train down on your own. You might recall I did the same race last year.

Last year, I did the 3km race in 45minutes. I think the course was quite short. This time around, I did the 3km in nearly double the time. I was over an hour out there. I think I barely scraped through the time limit of 90 minutes. Results aren’t out yet but I was at least 75 minutes, I reckon. I felt every minute of it. I was slow-going out there. Two laps of a 1.5km course – I was beat after the first lap. And still had another lap to do. My elbows were getting sore and tired and I definitely felt the slow swim. So much for a goal time of 60 minutes. I have not actually worked up the distance this swimming season. I don’t swim much more than 1.5km per swim session. I haven’t done a 3km swim since last year, so I struggled doing the 3km this time. Definitely need to train more! Me thinks I’m getting old.
Still had fun though. The water was beautiful.

Ready to swim:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Off we go:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Approx. 75 minutes later, I emerge from the water. You can call off the search party!

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

59th place out of the water (about 116 registered), so about middle of the pack:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Looking pretty freaking happy after that 3km ordeal. Slowest time ever. Pretty embarassing.

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Location was stunning:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

After the 3km swim was the 1.5km race. Got to take some action shots:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

LIfesaver pow wow:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Later in the day, I also swam in the relay. We had 4 teams entered from the gaijin brigade. It was a 3km relay with the first person swimming 500m, the second person swimming 1km, and the third person swimming 1.5km. I did the 500m leg. Another slow swim from me. My poor teammates had to work hard to make up for lost time. The boys did well and were superfast. We ended up getting 5th place (no thanks, to me!).

Relay team:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

The day was topped off with the obligatory group photo:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

And there’s nothing like bonding than getting in the tub together (onsen boat by the water):

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Medals, prizes and a PB: Iwai Aquathlon

Summer is here! And you know what that means — the open water swimming season is open.

First race for the year was a sprint aquathlon – the Minami Boso Iwai beach aquathlon. I participated in this race last year and was back again this year.

I left home with a towel and goggles, and came back wit medals, prizes and a PB.

Getting up early on a Sunday morning is no fun. It was a 2.5 hour journey but at least I got to enjoy the scenery.

Crossing the Sumida River, with the Sky Tree in the background:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Crossing the Edogawa river:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Chiba countryside:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Finally, the coastline in view:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

The beach was deserted apart from us swimmers.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Race course is set-up; yeah, this is not what I call a surf beach.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Water temp was a fresh 20 degrees. Swam without a wetsuit as per usual. But I did wear my tri-suit. The locals like to wear wetsuits though. Granted, I probably have more natural insulation than most people!

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

The cloudy morning gave way to a nice sunny day complete with blue skies:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Where’s David Hasselhoff when you need him?

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Warming up:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

So first up, I did the sprint aquathlon. A 500m swim followed by a 5km run.
I am quite proud of myself. I came second out of all the females! I was actually leading the WHOLE race (out of the females), and was pipped at the post in the last 30 seconds. My swim gave me a really good lead in the run leg. Damn my shoddy running. I was so far ahead of all the other ladies. Got out of the water quickly and had a super fast transition. Whilst EVERYONE was struggling to get wetsuits off, I just took off on the run.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

I held the lead in the run, and was overtaken right near the end.
Don’t have the swim and run splits yet, but my overall time earnt me second place female, and also second place in my age group. (Will update split times later when they become available).
My time was also a PB for the run which I did in about sub-30 which although is not fast by any standard, was good for me.
Total race time was: 40min, 41 seconds.
My time for the same race last year was: 47min, 45 seconds. I definitely was a lot faster and stronger in the run this time around.

2nd overall female:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

In addition to the aquathlon, I also decided to sign up on the day for the 1.5km open water swim as well. I needed the practice, because I’ve got 2 more 3km swims this month. My need to go fast in the run was partly motivated by the fact that I had signed up for the additional swim. The aquathlon started at 12:00pm and the swim started at 1pm. The faster I ran, the more break time I would have between the next race starting. I would only have about 15 minutes to spare.

After guzzling as much water as I could after the first race, I then braced for myself for a 1.5km swim. Man, I was so hot and thirsty.

The moved the buoys out further for the 1.5km swim and we had to do two laps of the course. Was definitely a lot slower on this swim having gone all out on the aquathlon.

I got second place female for the 1.5km swim.

Come the award ceremony, I got 2 medals and 2 prizes.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

I still haven’t actually opened up my prize bag yet. I think it’s something like a year’s supply of acai power drink. Seriously, lots of acai products. They were the sponsor.

I am a STARfish:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Also took home a ridiculously bright orange race shirt (included in entry fee):

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

All paths lead to water:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Iwai beach is a really nice beach…probably one of my favourites. I love swimming out there. I’ve done about three races there now.

The day turned out to be really warm, I even spent the day there chilling out and went for another dip in the water. Practically had the place to myself.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

I need to explore more of the Minami Boso region – they’ve got the ocean to the right, and the mountains to the left:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Stay tuned for more swimming reports this summer. Although don’t expect any more medals or prizes. That’ll be the last placing this season me thinks.