A medical history

Things of a medical nature have been all over the news cycle the past few months, and particularly the last week or two. A helicopter for an ambulance? A healthy glow?! Immunity! Don’t worry, this won’t be a PlaidCamper rant about miracle cures and inequalities in health care as personified by mango-hued tax dodging toddlers. Although it might have been, had the last sentence run on any longer.

No. No ranting. This is a post full of true and nearly true stories. Almost cinematic, full of visual poetry, and likely requiring a Terence Malick, Jane Campion, or Peter Weir to capture the moving intensity and subtle dreamy drama. A tale of a man at a crossroads in life. Cue voiceover: In a world…

Dreamy – one of the recent Planet of the Apes was filmed near here

Cut! Too much? Ok. Cut. Take two. This will be a post full of the brave exploits of a young-to-early middle-aged PlaidCamper, a potential boon to the medical world if only he would consider yet another mid-to-very-early life crisis, and switch careers. Montage! A white coat? Nice. A stethoscope? Yes please. Rugged calmness in the face of death and disease? Oh, yes doctor. Cut! Stop! Enough of this.

Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I almost swooned, understandably enough, at the thought of me in a white coat. Imagine a cross between George Clooney and Dr. Fauci, only many decades younger, and you’d be close. No? Assisted by soft lighting, and no close ups? And a wig? Not even? Where were we? Poor scriptwriting on this one. This is like Apocalypse Now, but medical. Let’s start with basic training.

Ongoing basic training, almost essential

Did I mention I participated in a Wilderness First Aid course? A week of skills and scenarios, designed to replicate real life situations, complete with all too convincing fake broken bones, buckets of blood, and stick on wounds and injuries too disgusting for The Walking Dead. All in a rainforest setting, and directed by a first aid trainer who looked nothing like Francis Ford Coppola. I think a young Martin Sheen, slightly too old for the part, yet fortunate enough to bear a certain resemblance to an OldPlaidCamper, will play me in the following scenes.

Cut, cut, cut! Sorry, Martin, we won’t be needing you. Haven’t you heard, PlaidCamper? Cinema is another victim of the virus. And Martin at any age looks nothing like you.

In truth, my never entirely realistic dream of becoming a doctor soon evaporated in the heat of simulated medical battle. I’m not a particularly good first aider, certainly not compared with how well our young participants coped in testing situations. They’d be elbow deep, or at least, gloved hands on, treating the injuries while I was still reciting lessons and trying to remember how to tie a sling. Fluffing my lines. Let’s just say I won’t be in any reboot of ER…

…unless it is in the patient role. I excelled! Lie down and grumble about aches and pains? Check! Fake a heart attack? I’ll do it! Food poisoning due to mushroom picking stupidity? I can fake that! Make up a medical history to confuse trainees? No problem! Wander off, pretend to pee in the woods, be startled by a bear and shoot myself with bear spray? I did that! Pretending, not for real. I was meant to do this! I’m a natural.

No bears in this scene

I really have had a near miss with bear spray, and know what it feels like. Method actor, that’s me. I search for the truth in stories and inhabit the characters I portray. I have to get under the skin of a role. Or under the skin of anyone nearby.

You’d like to hear my bear spray true story? One of Nature, red in tooth and claw? A terrifying tale of one man alone in the wilderness? Nope, it was none of that. I was in a supermarket parking lot, and walked round to the passenger side of the car to get my wallet out of a backpack. The pack was in the passenger footwell. I pulled on it to pick it up, when a strap got caught under the seat. Instead of slowing down and releasing the pack gently, I simply pulled harder, somehow breaking the trigger guard on the bear spray attached to the pack, delivering a dose all over the car radio and hand brake. Customers in the parking lot were treated to my first performance of man almost shoots himself with bear spray and scrambles backwards on all fours. If you’ve seen The Exorcist spider scene, you know how it went. Like that, but faster and with more swearing. It made my head spin, and some of the onlookers too.

I love the smell of bear spray in the morning

It took weeks to clean and remove the remnants. I’d be driving along, sipping a cup of coffee and changing the radio station, and a few moments later get a bad burning sensation around my mouth. It wasn’t how I made the coffee. A few particles of weeks-old bear spray really pack a punch…

Fascinating insight into the craft, don’t you think?

Yes, I brought all my experience to the patient role. I certainly tested the patience of fellow first aid participants. I drew the line at letting them volunteer me for staging a drowning recovery after falling off a dock incident, although it was kind of them to think of me. It’s an honour just to be nominated.

Under the dock

I got an email from Francis, our first aid trainer, just the other day. Imagine my surprise that it contained confirmation I passed the course! It was like winning an Oscar. If I had them, I’d like to thank my manager, my agent, the producers, my personal trainer, personal chef, accountant, my personal trainer’s personal trainer, the wig maker, George Clooney, Dr. Fauci, and the bald one in ER. Also, commiserations to Martin, but come on, only I could play me in this movie…

Oh, the monstrous ego. Cut! That’s a wrap. I’ve got to wait by the phone, be ready to take the calls from Hollywood. Fade to black.

Monstrous ego indeed. Enough of that guy. I’ll finish by acknowledging how well our young participants did in the WFA course, and how safe we’ll all be out on the land in the future. They learned so much in a relatively short time, and showed real leadership and an ability to act and think clearly in stressful situations. Nothing fazed them!

A screen presence! Planet of the Dog

Well, thankfully none of the plotless nonsense you’ve just read will ever get a theatrical release. Are you still here?! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

11 thoughts on “A medical history”

  1. your lucky the bear spray was CDN and not American! Theirs is much more powerful!
    Very few bears in reality ever get sprayed,mostly humans.
    I had a close encounter with spray myself. As you know all spray comes with some sort of locking device to stop it from going off accidentally. When out by myself, surrounded by bears I take that guard off. I doubt If a bear would wait for me to take the guard off. (some of those guards are a zap strap which needs a knife to be able to take off)
    I usually carry the spray in a carry case attached to my belt. I came home after a good photo shoot and promptly undressed. I had forgotten to put the guard back on. When my pants hit the floor (I carry a knife,Leatherman as well) the extra weight of everything made them descend faster and harder…….hitting the floor and some how (?) making the spray go off in my bedroom! I immediately aired the room out but it took many hours!
    If you ever get any in your eyes wash your face with 18% cream. The fat molecules grab onto the capsicum and so take it away. Water just passes over top.
    One thing they don’t tell you about bear spray is that the capsicum molecules are large and heavier. Making them settle more at the bottom. Which means you need to shake it before you spray it,or else your just spraying a very weakened dose.
    I bet Scout could smell the spray when she got in the truck!
    When a bear attacks It’s always fast and furious! All of what you’ve learned goes out the window and primal DNA takes over. Preparing physically and mentally is what will save you…..but even than sometimes that’s not enough.
    I watch for body language so I never need to use the spray in the first place.


    1. Thanks for your bear spray in the bedroom story, Wayne! That stuff takes a while to get cleaned out and less irritating…
      Yes, best defence is common sense and awareness, and any encounters can be safe and respectful.
      Stay safe out there!


  2. OMG, pc, I laughed and giggled throughout this whole post/movie/spoof. Then when I got to the real life story of the bear spray and you in the parking lot getting your wallet, the laughing started up until I was laughing SO hard I had to tone it down to not disturb people in the next room. Fun hearing about the acting roles you did in the WFA course, some of the scenarios you all worked on, too. Congratulations on passing. Thanks for making me laugh so hard that I had to wipe tears from my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you had a laugh or two with this one, Jet! Seems like many people have a bear spray story – see Wayne’s comment here. My favourite was from a lodge owner in Montana, who told us, straight faced, that he had a party of visitors about to head out for the day, and he reminded them about sunblock and bear spray for the children. Yup, they applied both…
      I hope all is well with you. Sounds like you’ve been evacuated again? Stay safe.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. At least you know where the bear spray is when you need it (unlike myself), and I’ll bet it sure smells nice in the morning (though I’m probably lucky to have missed all opportunities of sniffing it). And yeah, a cinematic romp it is, replete with all the true & nearly true medical news that fits, reflecting the mirth & terror of the times. Makes me glad to be living on the Planet of the Dog with you, Adam, and by the way, congrats to all you guys for passing your tests out there in the woods!


    1. Thanks, Walt! We always carry it, have never needed it. Touch wood, every bear encounter has been reasonably distant, and they’ve either moved on or we’ve turned back. Long may that continue.
      Yes, we’re living on Planet Terror right now, or so it can sometimes seem, but maybe, just maybe, an improvement is no more than a couple of weeks away?
      Have to hope…


  4. Ok, in addition to the success of passing your course, I’m already prepared to nominate you for an Oscar for Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Makeup and Hairstyling!!! With your new career change and social circles, you must promise that I get to meet Dr. Fauci and George Clooney!! Thank god I have something to laugh about for the day and this one may actually get me through the week. Also, I would have enjoyed that “mango-hued” sentence rambling on for a quite awhile and it would have been wonderful to have the supermarket parking lot video to go along with the bear spray incident. I’m still struggling with baseball and football, so your Everton/Liverpool match was the most entertaining of the day. Harper and her buddy were barking at the door to go out and I kept saying hold on a minute the match is almost over. Imagine my surprise when I went to take them out after the Liverpool score and came back in to see the match was a tie and had to rewind. Thanks for the fabulous story and was it written before or after enjoying a few pale ales?!?! Can’t believe through all my laughter I almost forgot to mention that Scout looks ready for the big screen in that gorgeous shot and congratulations on passing the course!!


    1. Haha, hard to believe, but the post was written without pale ale assistance. Just as well, it might never have ended…
      I see my stunt double, Dr. Fauci, is in the headlines again. He’s a scientist, so what could he possibly know about this nonexistent plague? Two more weeks, please, please, please…
      Very fortunate for Everton, still top of the table when in all truth that was a game they should have lost. And Spurs? What happened?! I’m going to search for a post match Mourinho interview, just to see the look on his face!
      I hope your week goes well.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, they were fun movies, even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones?! I liked the recent efforts, well made and entertaining, with the rainy scenes filmed around here.
      Hope you’re doing well.


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