On the calendar hanging on the door in my flat, it is Thursday, day 13 of the Games, 19 days into my London 2012 Adventure and six days until I head back across the pond to home. If I were a player of the lottery, those are the numbers that I would put on my ticket. Each significant in their own way.
My back and feet are suffering a bit from overuse. My right SI joint and its surrounding relatives and friends are angry at me so I have them being manipulated by one of the excellent physio's in the Polyclinic. I am a bit apprehensive about today's 10-hour clinic shift, with the back-to-back intense sessions but the show must go on. The weather here has shifted back to more Connecticut-like, with temperatures in the upper 80s. What a roller coaster we have had here, polar fleece vests to sleeveless shirts! The Polyclinic, while stunning in design, is three stories of solid glass walls that are acting like solar panels, creating a virtual oven-like effect inside, that the air conditioning system has no hope of combating.
Bring on 2 p.m. and the second shift: my shift at the Clinic. Not only is it my shift, it's my last official shift and I was more than a bit emotional about it. It was sweet and bittersweet at the same time. As usual, we gathered together for a full medical briefing and then queue together as the medical massage team. Our team leader, Nick, debriefed us and asked, as he sometimes has in the past, if anyone wanted or would go off site to a venue. This usually happened when a venue needed a replacement or extra medical support. The request was from Eton Manor for a first responder. No one in our group volunteered. Needing to fill the request and get someone there soon, Nick asked me if I would go. I had planned to stay in house to say my last good luck and good byes to the athletes and coaches that I had met over the last couple of weeks, but I was hard pressed to say no. Never could I have imagined or wished for what my night had in store for me!
I got my Bump-In Pass and made my way to and over the Blue Bridge to the "other side." After a 25 minute walk, I arrived, hot and already tired, to the Water Polo Center in Olympic Park. So ok, this was a plus, seeing I hadn't seen the Park yet! As a first responder, I knew massage wasn't my "job" for the evening but I really wasn't sure what was.
I reported to the Medical Station, met the regular group and waited for my assignment. As it turned out, my job was to be the "Loggist" in Command Central, whatever that was. "It's easy," said my new colleagues. "You just sit and watch all the venues (Water Polo & Aquatics) on closed circuit TV and if a medical call comes in, you write it down." Gee.. sounds easy and it will be fun watching the swimmers, so bring it on!
A quick venue tour is given, introductions made, the gal I am replacing says hi and goodbye and I sit down at my station. There had been no mention of any training or special instructions. Not 60 seconds later, my headset squawked and a voice said, in a calm but emergent voice that there had been medical crisis in the Aquatics Center. Right, sure there is... And on my watch!
Suddenly, all the closed circuit TV's are zeroed in on the point of concern, there is definitely a woman on the ground, but she is on the landing of the top tier of the building and it was my job to direct all internal and external emergency personal and operations to get her help and get her down. An extremely tense 30 minutes followed until the woman who had fallen down the steep-pitched bleacher and had sustained head injuries, was finally evacuated by a bucket lift and the hazmat crew had been brought in to clear the area. Thankfully, the rest of the shift was much less eventful.
Later on, breaking onto my secured and thankfully quiet headset line, the Venue Manager, whom I had briefly met at shift changeover, who requested me back to Med Central. Back I went thinking, now what?
The "now what" was a reposition request to be a first responder in the Water Polo Arena. Off I went, wondering what the stifled grins from my colleagues were all about. Once inside the arena, it took me about 30 seconds to figure it out. The event I was covering was the USA vs Spain women's gold medal match! Thanks to my colleagues, I had been positioned there not only as a responder but as a spectator!
As a Games Maker, it is expected that we are to remain impartial because we are international volunteers. That meant no cheering, hooting or hollering for our own country. I did my best, bit my tongue, folded my hands and refrained from taking pictures. But as the match went on, I spotted a Aussie hockey player, whom I had worked with in the Clinic and asked her to snap some pictures for me (Was that Kosher? Probably not but oh well!).
The USA won the gold and the crowd went wild. The medal platform was brought in and the awards given out, all while I watched at eye level to the podium. The music started as the flags began to unfurl. The American national anthem had begun. The USA women sang along and the audience was just belting out the words and the tears just poured down my face as I watched. Suddenly, it occured to me: While I was a very proud London 2012 Games Maker, I was, first and foremost, a very proud American.
I sang, I cheered and I cried as our star spangled banner was raised and I feel so blessed that my London 2012 Adventure included this night!