Miles: 318, Gas bill: $32.12
I did three back flips into the river today. After more than five months of worrying about my ever-broken arm, that was very satisfying. It is my natural instinct to climb up onto, hang over, and jump off of just about whatever interesting structures come my way. Five months is a very long time to watch other people acting a fool from the sidelines, always saying “if only I was whole again…”
I got my last set of x-rays about two weeks ago. I’ve been going no-copay to the county hospital thanks to the generosity of the tax payers of Alameda County and my ability to convince them that I was, indeed, unemployed. I was prepared for another all-day wait; being that a large number of patients never show up, the hospital purposefully overbooks every single day. By the laws of randomness this can sometimes end very poorly. The only redeeming thing about Oakland’s Highland General Hospital’s over-crowded waiting rooms is the multilingualism, but only if you can hear it over the din of the multiple televisions synchronized to KTVU 2, the Bay Area’s local Fox affiliate and, as far as I can tell, home of the most cringingly infuriating day time talk shows about apparent celebrities of whom I’ve never once heard. Of course you can’t leave the room, or listen to your music too loudly, for fear that you’ll miss the brief mispronunciation of your name that signals your one and only chance of being seen by the doctor that day. (Seriously though, S-K-O-R-Y has only five letters! There’s no second K, there are no T’s or A’s or anything else. How can it be so hard?!)
The worst day took six hours, but this last time I was out in three, including a trip to radiology.
“Your healed,” the doctor told me, looking at my x-rays on the computer screen.
“But there’s still a gap on one side!” I said. The left edge of the fracture had clearly not filled in, leaving a couple millimeter gap.
“Ah, that’ll be there forever. It’s plenty strong anyway.”
“So I can exercise again and everything?” I ask.
“I can even lift weights?”
“Heh” he chuckles with not a little bit of skepticism in his tone, “you can try.” After a pause, “those pins in your elbow are probably going to get in your way, even if you get your strength back.”
“Oh! I wanted to talk to you about that. One of the pins is coming out on its own.” And it was. Seriously.
“Hmm..” the doctor takes a look as I bend my elbow at him akwardly, “well, they do that sometimes. But no one’s going to want to take that out for another three months at least. We just don’t want to mess around in there yet.”
The resident, sitting at the next computer terminal chimes in, “sometimes a pin will even break skin before it’s ready to come out!”
“And you just leave it in anyway?”
“Yeah. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen to you.”
Yeah buddy, no kidding.
I immediately started trying to exercise again, really light weight stuff. It felt great and took effort to keep it light and go slow. Two weeks later and I still can’t do a push-up, so I was pretty apprehensive about a weekend of whitewater rafting. The doctor had said that “it would take a serious trauma to beak that bone,” which I took to mean “if you do something that will break a bone, you’ll break that bone.” So I wasn’t too concerned about a re-fracture, but I was worried about being able to pull my own weight with the paddling. I’m happy to report that a system can be found for anything, including how to lever a paddle and row just fine with one’s body movement and one strong arm. In fact, in a weekend with not a few mishaps, including our raft flipping and the lot of us getting dumped into the water, the only time my left arm hurt was jumping off a 20 foot rock only to realize very quickly that the impact would not treat my elbow too nicely. The feeling of bumping one of these pins protruding from my elbow I can only describe as very similar to hitting your funny bone, only smacking really hard into the inside of the lining of your funny bone. Needless to say, I did not again jump off that rock.
This rafting trip has by the graces of Canyon R.E.O., the Flagstaff-based river (R) equipment (E) outfitters (O) for whom my good friend Aaron Elliot has been working. They have an annual company trip, and friends are welcome. The timing and location couldn’t possibly have been more perfect. The Kern River Canyon rises out of the Central Valley immediately East of Bakersfield, and presents hardly a detour on the way to L.A. I’ve driven down the canyon a couple times, twice now as the first possible Westward crossing in the several hundred mile detour necessitated by the closing of all the snow-covered roads North out of the Eastern Sierra. It’s simply a gorgeous drive, and no matter how week my arm, I had to take the chance to finally go down the canyon by river.
The timing couldn’t have been better. The random classes I was taking at community college to pass time just ended on Thursday, and I was planning to leave this weekend anyway, first stopping in L.A. then continuing to take a Southern route to Pennsylvania. Why a Southern route? My car doesn’t have air conditioning, I like to sweat, and I have never been to Texas.
Oh, and the road trip is ‘cause I’m moving to Pittsburgh.
Miles: 318, Gas bill: $32.12