Tamsyn Lewis: Give her a break Channel 7!

17 08 2008

Did anyone watch Tamsyn Lewis run in the 800m Semi-final last night? All I can say is my heart went out to her.

Tamsyn Lewis 2008 Olympics

Tamsyn Lewis 2008 Olympics

Before she even ran the race, there was a great media controversy thanks to her comments regarding drugs in sport. From what I gather she basically said that many athletes are using drugs. Well considering that most of the Russian team (except for the woman that won the same 800m semi-final in which Tamsyn competed) were disqualified for using drugs. It seems she was right. So why did the media crucify her? Why is it such a taboo subject that no-one will talk about and yet it appears to be happening?

The head of the IOC, Jacques Rogge admits that there are types of performance enhancing drugs that they can’t detect yet. Also here’s a study that says there are flaws in the doping detection system that the IOC employs. Mr Rogge also spoke about American Sprinter Marion Jones, who was stripped of medals won at the 2000 Olympics, and was able to make sure she was “clean” over the time of the competition. Well it would seem that even the IOC is well aware that it is going on and that they can’t prevent it all.

Gary Hall Jnr was on the Yum Cha program ( Episode 5: go to about 39 minutes into the program) the other day saying that when people are breaking world records left, right and centre then you have to start considering that perhaps drugs are out there.

Gary Hall Jnr

Gary Hall Jnr

Back to my thoughts now; remember when maybe one or two world records might be broken in a single Olympics? Remember when a world record used to hold longer than an hour; in fact some of them held for years before they were broken? Well how many swimmers have been swimming in front of that green line that moves down the pool to show us where the World Record time is? Often there are three people swimming better than a world record … I mean what the heck, can you tell me that is seriously all diet and the funky swimsuits?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing anyone and I really hope I’m wrong, but there are limits to the human body and how are these things achievable across so many people. Look at situations where athletes struggle to finish fifth in a heat and then in a final a couple of days later they finish without breaking a sweat.

Why isn’t anyone else considering this? Why is everyone so silent? Why did Tamsyn Lewis get crucified by the media for comments that are in fact true in the situation in which she was referring to?

Anyway, I tip my hat to Channel 7 for continuing her crucifixion by interviewing her straight after her loss in the 800m semi-final last night. I mean the girl is obviously upset, she’s crying for god’s sake but Channel 7 they don’t decide to leave the interview until after she’s composed herself. No, they get straight into it and ask her stupid questions which make her feel worse. She was openly crying by the end of the interview. Then they plow into the whole issue of her comments on drugs earlier in the week in the hope that she will say something else they can use against her and hopefully get higher ratings.

Well Channel 7, I for one say “That’s not cool” That is absolutely not the way to be treating someone who has worked and trained hard, made lots of sacrifices and has just had a devastating loss. Not only that, she was speaking the truth and she’s Australian. We should be supporting her not trying to knock her down at every pass! 

I’d also like to say that before this Olympics I didn’t really know who Tamsyn Lewis was and I am aware that recently her career hasn’t been that stellar, but arguably that could be as a result of her decision NOT to take drugs. It has to be heartbreaking to know that you are doing the right thing but that others in your sport aren’t and then you have your country behind you wanting to know why you aren’t winning. In fact, I wonder if Tamsyn had been at the top of her career (i.e. a winner literally speaking) would the media have been as quick to crucify her?

Food for thought.


My Top Five: Trips to Make Before I Die

15 08 2008
Hopefully I can keep it to just five. Okay I can’t keep it to just five, but how about five international and five domestic (Australia only) ones?? Ha Ha, Do you see how I cheated there? Just like an Olympic Athlete on steroids huh?

International Trips

1. Travel all of Europe (I know that’s cheating but I want to see most of it if I can).

Santorini, Greek Islands

Santorini, Greek Islands

I have actually already been to Paris, Rome, London and Frankfurt but I need more and this has been at the top of the list for the last eight years. To get specific top of the wish list would be Germany, Switzerland, Greece and the Greek Islands, Italian Riviera, French Riviera, Spain, Denmark, Prague, Netherlands, Sweden just to name a few.

2. The Trans-Mongolian Railway.

Mongolia - as taken from the plane on my Mum's last trip there

Mongolia - as taken from the plane on my Mum

 Many companies do tours on this railway, here is one provided by a tour group called Gecko’s which I recognise from my Flight Centre days. This should give you an idea of what I’m talking about but for anyone too lazy to click it starts in Russia at Moscow and you travel the railway through Russia through to Ulaanbataar in Mongolia and then continue on your way to Beijing. Incidentally you can go the other way starting at Beijing and I have always wanted to start here and continue on into Europe from Russia. That merges number one and two together there, but typically would cost a small fortune.

3.  Egypt via Dubai.



Surely this doesn’t need too much elaboration; Pyramids, the Nile, camels, terribly hot weather and Mummy’s (hey we all know they are REAL!). Dubai has interesting architecture in its buildings with the desert right behind the city. It also has hotels where every feature is made out of gold, light switches the works … of course I probably wouldn’t be allowed in, I can’t even get a business class upgrade and I’ve been travelling overeas since I was 12 years old!

Dubai Hotel made with Gold

Dubai Hotel made with Gold

4. The Himalayas.

Machhapuchhare, Annapurna region, Nepal. Courtesy of www.geckosadventures.com

Machhapuchhare, Annapurna region, Nepal. Courtesy of http://www.geckosadventures.com

This is a very recent addition to my list and was inspired in part from a fiction book I was reading where the author managed to paint the picture of a sunrise while trekking through the Himalayas in such a fashion that my travel bug was inspired yet again and now I HAVE to see it. Of course I need to get the leg fixed first and you know get fit again … sigh … but it’s something to aim for (there are easy trek’s that don’t require you to be an Olympic athlete thankfully!). I have my eye on this one. Anyone wondering which book it’s a Chick fiction book called “With or Without You” written by Carole Matthews who appears to be a Pommy writer I think.

With or Without You Book Cover

With or Without You Book Cover

5. Ireland via England, Scotland and Wales.

Ireland. I'm not sure where but I love little cottages and rolling green hills.

Ireland. I

Do you like how I am squeezing in extra destinations by adding the word “via”? It’s a fantastic word! Years ago my plan was to live for a year in Seoul, London, Ireland (somewhere not sure which city) and New York. Well obviously I have managed to visit all of those except Ireland and live in Seoul so I’m getting there but I really have to make it Ireland. Wait a minute how come none of these countries are particularly warm?

Domestic Trips (Australia Only)

I’m going to do another post on these soon but here is a list of them.

1. The Great Ocean Road

2. Hamilton Island

3. Perth (Monkey Mia)

4. Ayers Rock and other big things in the centre there

5. Tassie

The World has been Simpsonized

15 08 2008

I know you are probably thinking this is going to be a rant but it’s not. My nerd factor has struck again.

During yet another period of sleeplessness I came across this website where an artist takes famous figures and Simpsonizes them.

He’s (I’m assuming a guy because of the love of Batman but perhaps I’m wrong) done a whole range of Batman stuff, Marty McFly, Dragon Ball Z is hilarious aswell, there’s even a Spiderman too.

The site is called Springfield Punx … have a look.

Dragon Ball Z drawn Comic Book Style as found at Springfield Punx website

Dragon Ball Z drawn Comic Book Style as found at Springfield Punx website

Frustrated with Australia’s Olympic Coverage

14 08 2008

Okay this has been bothering me for a few days now and I feel I have to voice it, maybe there are people out there as frustrated as I am. Then again maybe there aren’t and those that read this will have to put up with another one of my rants. I’ll leave it up to the readers to be the judge.

I should preface my comments here by saying two things. Firstly, that due to my bung leg at the moment I planned to sit back and watch as much Olympics as possible. Secondly, I think the advent of such fantastic technology in the world has made me spoiled. I realise that I am one of the generation with a terribly low attention span who expects everything to arrive at my doorstep immediately. I also think that fantastic technology means that I am used to having more control.

What I want is more control over my olympic coverage. That’s right I want Olympics on Demand! I mean think about it, wouldn’t it be nice instead of watching the endless repeats of the one gold medal Australia managed to win for that day to go through a list of options and decide what else you might like to view.  Wouldn’t it be great to tap into the coverage at the source and watch which events you want to watch at that point in time. Also wouldn’t it be fantastic to pause, fast forward, rewind and add your own slow motion replay, and before you ask this IS NOT a Tivo advertisement I’m writing here as I believe that Tivo relies on what the Australian channels broadcast. I’m talking more about the coverage of events that aren’t shown at all or in their entirety, including things that Australia is competing in but we aren’t a hope for a medal so they don’t show it all like the men’s archery the other day. They may have shown it the one time but there have been no repeats and no copies of it on the Yahoo 7 website … I guess I should check out the SBS website it was probably on their channel.

I think the reason this appeals to me so much is that the Australian media coverage of the Olympics is frustrating me so much this year. I don’t know if they have always covered the Olympics in this manner every other year and I just never noticed or whether they are worse this year, either option is possible.

Here’s a list of things that are getting to me about the Olympic Coverage this year. 

  • Commercial breaks being inserted in the most frustrating situations; especially when a game is being broadcast live and then suddenly you’ve missed the other team scoring three points … I mean three points!
  • Many of the rowing events seem to be broadcast well after they have started, so you just come into the event and you have the last 250 metres or something short at the end of the race and by the time I worked out where Australia was on the screen all the teams had crossed the line.
  • Replays that have big sections cut out because someone else decided it wouldn’t affect the outcome. One such glaring omission was in a highlight I was viewing on the yahoo 7 website of the Womens 400m Individual Swimming Medley where one second you are viewing the breast stroke and they are halfway down the pool facing one direction and suddenly BAM they are doing freestyle, facing the opposite direction and about to hit the wall.  
  • Annoying close ups when you don’t want them! Gah! Especially when you want to see the wider shot to see, oh I don’t know, where the teams are positioned in a race (shock horror)
  • How about settling in to watch the Olympics in the afternoon of Day 1 to fnd out that there are no Olympics being broadcast but only the AFL football. At least SBS was showing the Men’s road race, which Australia was competing in and we had a chance at a medal.
  • Not enough signage for dumb people like me. I’m terrible at listening to what I’m watching and I have often forgotten whether or not I’m watching a heat, semi-final or final.
  • Has anyone noticed that Channel 7 refuses to put up a medal tally most of the time so as to force you to look at the one on their website. I’m sure I remember previous Olympics where they used to update the medal tally after EVERY win and you’d see it on TV every hour at least.
  • Switching from a live game, where the score is in contention (the last two women’s basketball games come to mind) to see a REPEAT (yes a repeat) of a swimming final that has already been replayed three times in that day.
  • Only being able to view Australia compete and one or two of the competitors (K-1 and C-1 Slalom stuff) and then seeing the leaderboard and not being able to see the rest of the competition. There’s no build-up, no excitement.
  • Not seeing the Leaderboard shown enough for dumb people like me that can’t remember where the teams are up to after a new team competes. For example the Mens synchronised spring board diving I didn’t see the leaderboard come up between each round at all. Typically Australia wasn’t doing well but I had no idea what position they were in, it was so frustrating.
  • Having teams not show up for swimming heats, or last night New Zealand were disqualified for an event and the commentators didn’t even notice a whole lane with no swimmers in it, let alone give a reason for the disqualification. They didn’t even comment that anyone was missing!

The Olympics is the only real sporting event that I watch at all, let alone this closely. I would imagine these are issues that probably annoy audiences world wide about any sport. Also, come to think of it this is probably the same whinge that many people have about the Olympics coverage every four years. But perhaps this Olympics is worse than normal or is it just that because I am not working I have more viewing time to notice the things the networks always do every Olympics?

Before I have to print any kind of apology to either Channel 7 or SBS, I’d like to say that I understand where the channels are coming from. They are here to make money and if they have to truncate some stuff to be able to fit in the advertisements of their sponsors due to contractual obligations then all power to them. Why they insist on showing these little getting to know you segments about China when there are other more interesting events that could be broadcast I don’t know. In fact, why they felt the need to waste valuabe event airing time by airing Today Tonight I will never understand but hey, maybe the hosts needed a dinner break? Or even the Olympians have a dinner break then? Okay it is just my particular dislike and disrespect of that program.

I mean wouldn’t it be great if we could choose to pay a certain amount to be able to get Olympics on demand and choose what we want to watch. I mean they could place advertisements into it (TV channels would never go for it if I took away their money making power), either at the beginning or if things were recorded ads could be inserted without the need to miss important parts of the coverage. I am sure that everyone is interested in different events and maybe there are more people than just me that are interested in watching other countries compete and seeing what the competition has to offer rather than simply seeing the final eight contestants for anything?

Essentially, wouldn’t it be great to be your own TV station? I’d pay for the privilege of course and Channel 7 could still have their free to air coverage, but I could go through a list of events that the Chinese are taping and pick and choose what I want to see and what I want to tape for later. Wouldn’t that be a great way for the TV networks to cater to everyones preferences and would stop us all whinging because we are tired of others taking control and still not showing us even a fraction of what we want to see. No doubt this solution would probably show me why the TV channels have it so tough in trying to get all of the coverage onto our screens.

Surely, the technology is available to achieve this by the next Olympics?

Leg Update 4: The Vascular Surgeon

7 08 2008

Today was my trip to the Vascular Surgeon. Dr Peter Duffy based out of the Mater Hospital (a hospital I can now find my way to blindfolded from my house because I’ve been there so many times in the last couple of weeks).

The Cliff Notes version; I saw the doctor for an hour. He went through and explained what I had and the possibilities to treat it. He also told me that I’m a difficult case and he wants to consult his colleagues at the next meeting of all the vascular surgeons to work out how best to treat it. He also gave me a script for a compression stocking that will put pressure on the muscle and reduce the excess lump of blood in the muscle.

The rest of this post while going into more detail, will also include a bit of compare and contrast about my experiences with Yonsei Hospital versus the experience with the Mater Hospital in Australia. For anyone who is considering under-going medical care in South Korea for anything complicated it is worth a serious look – it will be an eye opener!

For anyone who is looking for a vascular surgeon; can I just say that based on only one consultation Dr. Duffy is fantastic. He spent an hour with me going through ALL of my test results from the myriad of tests that I had last week. He explained to me what they all meant and what the pictures in the MRI’s, ultrasound and CT scan meant. He got me up on the table and looked at my leg, he poked and prodded, he got out the stethoscope and listened to blood pressure of the lump and areas around it, even checked my pulse at the top of the leg and the foot to check that blood wasn’t beng blocked etc (apparantly all clear on that front – yay). He took lots of time with me, explained what I had (which I’ll get to in a minute) and all the options available to me to treat it.

This is the absolute opposite of what happened to me in the hospital in Seoul (Yonsei Severance Hospital) when I saw the specialist. My hospital consult with the orthopedic surgeon (wrong type of doctor for starters – for anyone researching his name was Dr. Shim Kyu Ho) was all of ten minutes most of which consisted of the doctor looking at the MRI photos, chin in hand, saying “Mmmm” (same in both languages apparantly) while his assistant looked on, they pointed at different things and discussed the situation in Korean for the first five minutes. After that they asked me about the pain and then the doctor told me they could remove it but I wouldn’t be able to point my toes afterwards. Since I wasn’t a ballet dancer and the pain was making me unable to live a normal life I thought, okay sounds good. But at no time was I given any options. The decision was taken away from me. (Arguably the decision had been taken away from me the minute I walked into a Korean hospital for a complicated medical issue but remember it had been mis-diagnosed a number of times over a number of years). I should also add here that my strange fear of doctors and all things medical related at this point made me glad that I had little information about my situation … I was happy to remain ignorant and take the relatively simple option at face value.

So what is this mysterious malady that has had doctors and physiotherapists scratching their heads for the last ten years? Well apparantly it IS NOT a Hemangioma (or blood tumor) as was previously diagnosed in South Korea.  It’s called:

Arterior Venous Malformation (AVM)

A picture represntation of AVM

A picture represntation of AVM

What the heck is that you ask? Well apparantly it’s something I was born with, yes I now have medical proof that I was born a freak. Between two muscles in my leg I have malformed veins, some are bigger than they should be and others are smaller than they should be and this is causing pressure on the muscle and obviously a boat load of pain.

Assuming I can believe that this latest diagnosis is correct (possibly too much to assume), you have no idea how great it feels mentally that it isn’t a tumor. There was nothing scarier than realising that I had had a tumor inside me for TEN YEARS causing me pain and I did nothing about it, especially when fun words like malignant were thrown around at one stage. It forced me to push all my fear of doctors and medical stuff aside and take an active interest in my health and how it is being managed.

So what possibilities are there for treatment? The doctor outlined three possiblities, you see already there are three, better than the one option I was given in South Korea!

1. Live with the pain. (Ha Ha … not an option anymore. I’ve been doing that for ten years and I want my life back) This was an option straight from the horse’s mouth.

2. Through surgery removal of the troublesome veins and a certain amount of muscle aswell. This will affect the mobility of the leg ever after. (This seems to be the same option as given to me in South Korea) This option may still happen depending on what the doctor works out with his colleagues. Advantages of this option is that it would be a one time surgery, with a one time cost. The doctor said that there were also ways that we could limit the impact of the lack of mobility, I assume that he was referring to physiotherapy, but I will write that down to ask him if that is the option that he presents after he conferrs with the colleagues.

3. Something fun called ballooning and glueing … that’s right glueing … oh my god doesn’t that sound like fun … I wonder if you can pick up that glue at Bannisters or Office Works … don’t try this at home kids :p I don’t have all the information about this option yet but through a process of ultrasound and with needles they can inject stuff into the veins to fix them. I imagine that ballooning would be blowing up the too small ones and perhaps glueing them refers to where they can inject some of them with something to either kill them or shrink them. I haven’t had a chance to investigate this properly yet but the doctor did explain that a possible side effect of this treatment is that if blood doesn’t get to a certain area of the muscle at all the muscle there can die and effectively it would be the same as if it’s removed, it won’t work and won’t ever re-grow etc. I also want to point out that when I mentioned this possible treatment in South Korea, they scoffed and told me it would be too hard … Mmmm.

4. (sorry forgot about this option) Radiation therapy – basically they zap that area like it’s cancer or something. We didn’t discuss this in-depth but I believe that it can possibly kill areas of the muscle around the target area also.

So overall, the doctor is going to consult with his colleagues at this monthly meeting either this month or next month, whenever the next meeting is and will then give me his plan for the best way to treat it. He also said that treatment might consist of more than one of these options to get the AVM under control.

Oh yeah, he also gave me a script for a compression stocking, much like they give to women with vericose veins. While I was in South Korea I tried wearing normal stokings under my pants to help ward of the freezing temperatures over there and I couldn’t walk for days after wearing them for two days. I’m not sure how this will work and how much pain I might have to go through in order to help kill the pain in the long run. I wonder how long I have to wear it for if it works? Summer is fast approaching too.

Okay just did a quick google search on ballooning and glueing and found an article about a study done on people in 1976-1979 (that’s a long time ago) and it was in the people’s brains. Perhaps they have perfected it by now? At the very least they have had some time for trial and error?

Woot – I have a congenital disorder (yes I was only vaguely familiar with the term usually in the phrase congenital heart defect which until now I sadly thought meant really bad and inoperable due to its use in television and movies – a certain Christian Slater film comes to mind) but now I know a little more thanks to Wikipedia about AVM. I know it isn’t the be all and end all but it’s a place to start. Also there is reference to AVM in fiction and apparantly my disorder has been on a House episode … Woot I’m almost famous! Bwah ha ha ha ha!!!