2 Weeks, 2 Crutches

Posted by Mark

xray

So it’s been two weeks since my surgery and since I started using crutches. The first week of crutches was fun because it was something I hadn’t experienced before, and so there was lots of puzzle solving involved. But that novelty quickly wore off and I’m now finding crutches to be such a nuisance. One thing I haven’t really solved is how I can carry stuff while on crutches. I went to Sultan and bought some bananas thinking I could carry the bag in one hand while still managing to hold my crutches. That worked but what I didn’t take into consideration was the weight of the bananas plus the swinging motion would completely destabilize my balance with every swing. The stupid bananas were going to cause my crutches to fly out of my hand and I’d fall embarrassingly in front of everyone. Stupid bananas. I ended up taking the most gentlest and shortest hops back to my car and finally got there like 15 minutes later. A messenger bag would do the trick but imagine if I walked around with a messenger bag at Sultan filling it up with stuff. It would look like I’m stealing groceries so that’s not gonna happen.

On the other hand I have gotten very close to my crutches. They’re my mobility so they’re always right next to me. When I was at a restaurant last week the waiter was being nice and took and put my crutches near a wall away from my table as so not to bother me, I had him bring them back because I didn’t feel comfortable being so far away from them. People are so nice to you when you’re on crutches but it’s the pity kind of nice which I dislike. I have complete strangers passing by me and telling me “salamat” (get well soon) or “mat shoof shar” (don’t see evil). I’ve broken both of my hands multiple of times but no one ever treated me differently. It’s these damn crutches, not sure how I can make them look any less medical, I already have some cool stickers on them. When I see someone in crutches or in a wheel chair I don’t treat them any differently than I would anybody else because I know they don’t want my pity. I guess I understand, people are just trying to be nice but still, it makes me feel weak.

arcusairwalker

Yesterday I had my stitches removed and had some new x-rays taken. The doctor said I still have two more weeks in my cast before I completely remove it. It’s not really a cast, I removed the cast around 10 days back and got this medical boot called the Arcus Air Walker instead. It looks super cool, a lot less medical looking than a cast and best of all I can remove it and put it on myself. Made cleaning my wound (and leg) so much easier plus it’s the only way I can put on my skinny shorts. By the way if you ever need anything like this, crutches, braces, or things to make life for someone with a disability easier, there is a pharmacy in Kuwait Building Tower in Kuwait City (same building as Spaloon and Burger King) that has the whole basement floor dedicated to this stuff. I got my boots, crutches and a shower bag for leg from there, they’re called AlHuwail Pharmacy.

So anyway my doctor told me I don’t have to wear the cast anymore as long as I don’t put much weight on it yet. Since I’m super clumsy we agreed I wear the boot when I am moving around on my crutches but I can remove it when I’m sitting down. That was energizing news since I kinda had gotten demoralized a few days earlier. One of my clients is an ex Chinese Olympic gymnast and he told me that back in the day when any athlete broke a bone they had to be in a cast for three months. That obviously brought me down since I had hoped I would have to stay in the cast for a maximum of 6 weeks.

compex

The best news the doctor gave me is that I should start doing home rehab on my ankle, moving it around and such which is exactly what I wanted to hear. I have a little experiment I am planning to run you see, I noticed that in just two weeks my left calf muscle had completely weakend. That means even after I remove the cast I wouldn’t be able to walk normally or do normal things not unless my left leg got its strength back. So I had a theory, what if I did Electro Muscular Training starting from now? I tried it last month with the fitness studio 20Seven and it gave me a proper workout and my theory is it would keep my calf active and alive until I remove my cast. So I went online, did some research and ended up ordering the Compex SP 4.0. It’s one of the best and most popular brands for home EMT devices and use by crossfitters, cyclists and other athletes. I’m planning to work out my left leg, specifically my calves and ankles during this period in hopes that by the time I remove the cast my left leg would be stronger than if I hadn’t done EMT. I’m curious to see if it works. I’ll do a full review of the device in a month or so.

So two more weeks and if everything goes to plan no more crutches.


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Hawalli Traffic Department

Posted by Mark

muroor

Every year I have to go through the dreaded process of renewing my car registration and I hate it. The traffic department in Maidan Hawalli is just a chaotic, over crowded unorganized mess. It involves a lot of pushing and shoving and lots of waiting. But this year, something changed.

I had already finished my car check in the morning without any incidents so I headed to the traffic department to get my car registration printed. Right as I walked in I noticed they had setup a desk at the main entrance and an officer was standing in the doorway leading to the main hall. The officer was not letting anyone through unless they had stood in line and gotten their paperwork checked and stamped at the desks. I naturally stood in line which wasn’t long at all, just two people ahead of me and when it was my turn the guy behind the desk checked my papers and then told me I needed to get a stamp from the machine. I went got a stamp while he patiently waited, I then passed him the stamp, he stuck it on my papers, signed it and gave it back to me and told me to go inside. I walked into what usually is a large, noisy and overcrowded hall and walked up to a window and handed the guy my papers. A minute later he called my name and I went and he gave me my new car registration. I walked out dumbfounded.

I am a pro at renewing car registrations since I do it a few times a year for my cars and my parents cars and I’ve been doing it for a fairly long time now. Not once have I ever managed to get anything done there in under 30 minutes. It usually takes longer but lets use 30 minutes as a number for now. This year the process took less than 10. Not only that but I didn’t get shoved, I didn’t have people try and push in front of me and I didn’t have to sit in an over crowded room watching people getting yelled at by an overzealous police officer.

Whomever they’ve put in charge at the traffic department in Hawalli needs a medal. It was literally the quickest and simplest governmental service I think I’ve ever experienced anywhere yet alone in Kuwait. Why can’t all of Kuwait’s government processes be so organized like this?


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My First Surgery

Posted by Mark

Last week was a pretty eventful one for me and it all started Monday morning when I headed to Khiran for my wakeboard session. I spent the first half of the session doing jumps and the second half learning to ride switch. Just before the session was over I figured I would perform some more jumps and thats when I messed up. I got a bit over confident and rushed into a jump and ended up taking off wrong and then landing nose first into the water. The board immediately sank into the water and then snapped back out again aggressively which is when I felt an instant pain in my ankle area. Right away I knew I was hurt and so I took off the board and swam back to the boat before heading back to shore. When I got to shore I picked up my board and gear and started walking towards my car. I could barely put any weight on my left leg without feeling pain but I kept heading towards the car since I just wanted to get home. While leaving Khiran I found a bakala van so I pulled up and bought a bag of ice which I then used to ice my ankle while driving back home. It was around an hour drive to get home and a painful one. By the time I got home my ankle has swollen up to the size of a large mango I googled sprained ankles online and how to treat them and started following instructions. I didn’t think it was too bad, figured I might need 2 weeks or so to get all better.

fracture

A few hours later I decided to head to a doctor. While reading about ankle sprains online I realized there were three levels of sprains and my symptoms didn’t really fit under any one of them. So I visited a doctor so I could find out exactly how badly sprained my ankle was. I headed to International Clinic and saw and orthopedic doctor there. He made me move my ankle a few directions and it didn’t seem like I had any muscle problems. So he told me just to be safe we should do an x-ray. I had an x-ray done and when I got back to his room he was like I have some bad news, you’ve got a fracture. I was like whaaaaaattttt?? He was like not only do you have a fracture but you need surgery, we need to insert two screws to connect the dislodged bone back to your ankle. I was in complete shock and became sad and depressed. Right away in my head I was thinking that means no more wakeboarding, it means no more gym and it means I wouldn’t be able to go snowboarding in Sweden the following week. I just imagined myself sitting on the couch for a month pigging out on junk food and gaining like a zillion kilos. I told him I needed to get a second opinion and he completely understood that. We wrapped my leg in a half cast and I headed home.

halfcast

I was sad and upset for like an hour before my mood and feelings about the whole thing completely changed. I basically had a little chat with myself in my head. I asked myself what do I prefer? No extreme sports but also no injuries, or would I rather have fun and enjoy life but every now and then get injured? I obviously prefer the later and right away my mind started working trying to solve various issues. How will I go grocery shopping? Simple I’ll order my groceries from Saveco since they deliver. How will I shower? How will I do my laundry? How can I make breakfast? One by one I found answers and solutions to all my questions. I didn’t want my fractured ankle to change anything in my life. I figured I can even continue to go to the gym but I would just weight-lift while seated or lying on my back. I accepted my injury and started feeling so much better about the whole thing, I started looking at the injury like a cool scar and I was kinda proud of it.

The next day I headed to Seef Hospital for a second opinion. I saw the doctor there and he told me the exact same thing, I needed surgery and two screws. I tried to schedule the surgery for the same day but we ended up scheduling it for the next day 8AM. I didn’t want to wait, I just wanted to get it done with and start the recovery process. I asked about the brand of screws I was going to get inserted. I figured if they’re going to be in me I wanted the best screws available. He told me I was going to get two titanium Stryker screws which were some of the best, I tried googling reviews funnily but obviously didn’t find any. I noticed the color of the screw online was purple and was going to ask him if I could choose the color I wanted but decided that might be a bit too anal of me.

view

Wednesday morning at 6AM I checked into my room at Seef Hospital. I had such a beautiful view but really wasn’t in the mood to appreciate it at that moment. I never had a surgery before, this was going to be my first one and I was going to get two screws drilled into me. I was quiet and emotionless. Whenever I am in a situation where I should be scared I instead feel nothing, no fear or anything, I just become quiet and didn’t care that I was having a surgery in an hour. Anyway to cut it short, I ended up having the surgery and it went well. I spent the morning falling in and out of consciousness because I was so sleepy. I wasn’t in pain and I ended up checking out later in the evening around 8PM. I hadn’t told my friends or anyone about the surgery, I just wanted to go through it alone and I found the whole process very therapeutic.

screws

I’m now moving about normally although very slowly because I’m using crutches. Crutches by the way are such a workout, I was worried at first that I was going to end up turning into a couch potato but because the crutches are such a workout, I’m actually feeling fit. I’ve customized my crutches with stickers to try and make them look less medical. I’m still eating healthy, I just cheated with my last meal before surgery by having a burger but since the surgery I haven’t cheated at all. I’m taking a break from my gym this week but will hopefully start going back next Saturday. The doctor told me I can start putting some weight on my ankle starting from next week so thats good news. The most difficult thing I’ve been dealing with is making my bed every morning, it’s such a slow process using crutches but I’m getting it done. I’ve also been doing laundry, ironing and the dishes all while standing on one leg. My right leg is definitely going to bulk up over the next few weeks,

crutches

One thing I’ve noticed is I hate the way some strangers look at me with pity because I’m on crutches. It really bothers me because I don’t want anybodies pity, I’m doing just fine and I can take care of myself. I noticed Sultan Center Shaab have a wheel chair and a motorized scooter at the entrance for those who need it. It’s an extremely nice gesture but there is no way I would use them. I don’t want to feel helpless or weak so I would rather exhaust myself hopping around with crutches then take a wheelchair or scooter. I noticed whatever I do, I try not to show any weakness, even when I went to the hospital for my surgery I went and stayed in my gym gear. When I’m hopping around with crutches… I always have a smile on my face. The psychology behind all this has been entertaining.

sultan

I’m finding this whole experience with my ankle and crutches to be so educational and interesting. I am so not bothered by my fracture at all anymore, in fact what it’s done is slowed my life down, something which I needed to do anyway. I have been feeling so much more relaxed and less stressed since I hurt my ankle last week. I’m also having fun solving all these puzzles of trying to do stuff with crutches and one leg. The doctor said I can remove my cast after 5 weeks and then I can then start my rehab. I think time is going to fly by pretty quickly.


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Selling my MacBook Air

Posted by Mark

macbookair

I’m selling my 13″ MacBook Air in the Classifieds section. If anybody wants it, check it out and let me know. [Link]


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Ordering Supplements Online

Posted by Mark

shopandship

Has anyone ordered fitness supplements online with Aramex? Did you have any difficulties with customs or was a complicated mess?


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Sonic Editions

Posted by Mark

soniceditions

I have a huge wall in my apartment I needed to fill and wasn’t sure how. I figured I might either get some shelves or possibly a painting but I also didn’t want to pay a ridiculous amount of money for it. Originally I was looking for a specific Andy Warhol Camouflage print but after having a difficult time procuring one I decided to give up on that dream. In the end I went with a super large black and white photo from a website called Sonic Editions.

blownaway

I originally found out about Sonic Editions because they had a Dave Grohl photo reenacting the old Maxell blown away guy (pictured above). All their photos are limited to just 495 prints and after flipping through hundreds of photos I finally fell in love with one, Al Pacino on the set of the movie ‘Serpico‘ in New York in 1973. The only issue was the largest size they had the photo available on the website was 60x75cm and I needed one much larger. So I emailed them and asked if they could customize a size for me, one that was 80×100 (100x120cm with the frame) and they said yes they could. They also would ship directly to Kuwait at a fairly reasonable price of around KD55.

al

I placed the order and around 20 days later I received the print framed. Everything about it exceeded my expectations. First the package was huge and barely fit sideways in my FJ Cruiser. Any larger and I would have needed a pickup truck probably. The frame was packaged extremely well and when I finally got all the packaging out of the way I was very impressed with the quality of the photo print as well as the quality of the frame. The workmanship was top notch and there was even a patch on the back of the frame with details of the photo including the photographers name, where it was shot, the date and the limited edition number. I was blown away at how easy it was to order and ship the photography to Kuwait and I’m now looking for another one to order for a different room.

So if you’re looking to purchase an artwork for your wall, check these guys out www.soniceditions.com


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Skateboarding and Badminton

Posted by Mark

sovrn

This is a little bit off topic from my usual posts but I need two things:

Badminton
So recently I started playing badminton with a friend with IBAK (Indian Badminton Association – Kuwait) and I’m not that great. So I’m looking for a private trainer, if anyone knows of one let me know.

Skateboarding
I also recently fell in love with a skateboard (pictured on top) and I bought it. I’ve been wanting to skateboard ever since I was a kid but never got the chance to so if any skateboarder here is willing to give me some private lessons as well, let me know.

#midlifecrisis


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I flew Kuwait Airways and I liked it

Posted by Mark

ku1

This past weekend Harley Davidson sent me to Lebanon for a bike ride as part of a media trip. They took care of my airline ticket and I hadn’t noticed until the very last minute that they had booked Kuwait Airways for me. If I had noticed earlier I would have obviously requested to change my flight to MEA but it was too late to change the ticket and I was stuck flying Kuwait Airways.

While checking in at the airport I asked if I was flying a new plane and turns out I was. I still wasn’t too thrilled about flying on the new planes because based on the photos Kuwait Airways had published in their instagram account (here and here), the new planes looked outdated, ugly and gloomy. Not sure why Kuwait Airways posted those horrible pictures but turns out they’re misleading and not an accurate representation of how the planes actually look like.

ku2

When I got onboard the new plane I was completely taken a back by how nice and bright the interior was. In the photos on the Kuwait Airways instagram account, the chairs looked dark and the walls and ceiling had a dull grey tone but in reality, the blues were vibrant and the walls and ceiling were bright and light colored. I sat down in my seat and noticed I had really good legroom as well, so far I was really impressed. I started flipping through the media center checking it out while the passenger next to me plugged in a USB stick with movies and started watching something. This is a completely new Kuwait Airways and I was liking it.

I flew both ways with the new Kuwait Airways plane and honestly I think the planes are better than the MEA ones which I normally fly with to Lebanon. There was even internet onboard the Kuwait Airways plane which I tried out on the way back ($10 for 30mins, $20 for 1 hour and $40 for 3 hours). Even the food wasn’t too bad at all and because no one flies Kuwait Airways, the plane wasn’t very packed making the experience even more enjoyable.


[YouTube]

I did have an issue though and it was with the flight attendants. When I headed to the bathroom at the back of the plane while we were flying, I noticed one of the flight attendants was sitting in a passenger seat with the headphones on watching a movie. I thought that was pretty unprofessional. Another incident which also showed a lack of professionalism, when we landed and the plane was still on the runway heading towards our parking spot, a passenger got up from his seat and started getting his bag from the overhead compartment. Instead of the Kuwait Airways flight attendant telling the man to sit back down she got up and walked over to him and helped him carry his bag down from the overhead compartment. Then other people started getting up to get their overhead bags while the plane was still moving. Total chaos and I though it was ridiculous that the flight attendants weren’t telling the passengers to stay seated until the plane stopped. But then again this was Kuwait Airways. Although everything does look new, modern and up to date, end of the day this is still the same airline and the flight attendants are a reminder of that.

Putting aside my issue with the flight attendants I actually had a great experience with Kuwait Airways. In fact I would choose Kuwait Airways over MEA in a heart beat if the Kuwait Airways flight wasn’t an hour longer (they don’t fly over Syria, Jordan or Israel so they take a big detour). I thought the in-flight entertainment system had more than enough entertainment for the 3 hour flight, I found the seats comfortable, the legroom was great and my overall experience was very positive. The only thing I would say though is that they can update all their planes as much as they want, they can get the new A380s even and have onboard showers but that’s not going to be enough to move the airline forward unless the employees get retrained and their professionalism reestablished. And I’m not talking about just the onboard flight attendants but every employee you interact with from the minute you checkin to the last Kuwait Airways employee you see should reflect this new and improved Kuwait Airways. Other than that they’re off to a pretty good start.


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It’s Been 10 Incredible Years

Posted by Mark

selfmade

Exactly ten years ago today I launched 248AM as a side project for my other blog at the time, miskan.com. I didn’t have a plan and I definitely wasn’t expecting it to turn into what it is today, I just had a lot to say and so I created this space as an outlet.

A lot has happened to me since the blog started, I’m ten years older for one thing and I’m a lot more mature as a result. My style of writing has changed, the things I post about, the topics and definitely my language has all changed. The only thing that hasn’t changed is my aim which is to entertain you.

I don’t know how long I will be doing this for, I just know that I really love doing it and I’ll keep doing it as long as you keep coming back here to read what I have to say.

Thank you everyone for being the best readers a blogger could hope for.


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Why Burgan Bank Sucks While Traveling

Posted by Mark

My primary bank is NBK but due to various issues, mainly this one time when their ATM network was down and I wasn’t able to withdraw money before traveling, I decided to open a secondary bank account with Burgan Bank as a backup. I chose Burgan Bank primarily because they were located in the building adjacent to my apartment building and I liked how the branch looked like. As I found out recently though, turns out for traveling, Burgan Bank was the wrong bank to go with.

Last month while in Cape Town the owner of the bed & breakfast I was staying in asked me if I could pay him in cash since that way he wouldn’t have to pay the credit card transaction fee. So I went to an ATM to withdraw money using my Burgan Bank card. The ATM had a limit on how much I could withdraw at once so I had to withdraw the amount in two parts. After withdrawing the first half I tried to withdraw the second half and got an error. I then received a message on my phone from Burgan Bank saying my card had been declined and I needed to contact them. So I called Burgan Bank up using roaming and after getting a hold of an employee I was told that due to security reasons, Burgan Bank has placed a limit on South Africa and that I could only withdraw a maximum of KD25 a day. I went apeshit over the phone. I told the employee I’m on vacation and they have no right to limit my spending to just KD25. I told him KD25 wouldn’t be enough for me to spend per day and I also needed to pay for my accommodation now and I couldn’t because of this stupid limit. He told me he would put in a request to increase my spending limit temporarily. I was like I needed the limit lifted now so he put me on hold for a few minutes before letting me know my limit was lifted.

plane-window

I came back to Kuwait and basically forgot about the whole incident until this past weekend while I was in Bahrain I ran into another issue. On the day I arrived to Bahrain I tried to use my Burgan Bank ATM card but it got declined. I thought it might have been something with the sellers machine and decided to use my NBK card for the purchase instead. I didn’t use my card for the rest of the trip since I was using my NBK credit card. When I landed in Kuwait Saturday night I headed to the Burgan Bank ATM machine at the airport to withdraw money to pay for parking but I got a declined error again and a message on my phone saying the bank declined my card and I should contact them. So I called Burgan Bank and ask their customer support why they’re declining my transactions and the employee told me it was due to security reasons. I was like what?! He was like when someone uses the ATM card in two different countries in the same day they automatically block my card and I need to call the bank to unblock it. I went apeshit again. I told the employee I had breakfast at the airport and then traveled to Bahrain and wanted to use my card there, are you telling me I am not allowed to do that? Are you saying that if I have breakfast at the airport I am not allowed to use my card again until 24 hours later after arriving to my destination? He was like it’s their policy. I was like I can’t be the only Burgan Bank customer that has complained about this. I was literally yelling at this point and asked him if Burgan Bank customers ever travel??? I told him this was the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard and that IF they were to block my card it should be when someone tries to withdraw a large amount like a KD1,000 or KD5,000 but not KD10! I told him I was fed up with them and that I hated being put in awkward situations because of them. I told him they have no right to keep blocking my card like that because they have no idea what situation I could be in while abroad and needed money but because of their incompetence I would end up being screwed. I told the employee to unblock my card and to put a note to never ever block it again. I told him even if five different people in five different countries try to withdraw money from my card at the same time to let them. Even if someone in Nigeria is trying to withdraw all the money on the card to let them. I just couldn’t handle it anymore, I hate being treated like a child by my bank. If they’re concerned about any transaction on my card they should call me and check on it like NBK does. But to block my card without warning is ridiculous.

So in the next few days when I have some free time I’m going to sadly be closing my account with Burgan Bank. I say sadly because I actually love the branch near my house and have had a pretty good experience with them. Even though both their app and online banking sucks I liked passing by their branch and their bank employees are actually really friendly. But their security policies have completely killed it for me. The whole point of opening an account with them was so that I have a backup system to use when I travel and the one thing I wanted them for they’ve failed in miserably. Now I need to find another bank instead so if anyone has any recommendations let me know below.

Update: Burgan Bank ended up calling me regarding my post and according to them they’ve reengineered some of the processes so that people don’t end up having these issues again. This is the email they sent me:

Dear Mark,

Thank you for raising your customer experience with us in regards to recent issues on your debit cards, firstly we regret the inconvenience caused to you. Due to the recent spate of frauds in card related transactions across the region each bank including ourselves had put in parameters in order to protect & safe guard our customers. Our endeavor has always been to protect our customers assets & ensure better customer experience.

We can reassure you that based on your experience and feedback we have relooked at our processes & reengineered them to ensure better customer experience and we will monitor and review the same on ongoing basis.

Regards,


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