First Falafel

About ten years ago, I lived in New York: rented a shithole apartment in Astoria, took the N train in to Times Square every day, and worked three floors down from Puff Daddy at a soon-to-be-irrelevant dotcom. My life consisted of TPS reports, delays on the N train, and arguing with old ladies in three different languages at the local Key Food. I guess I wrote books too, but that involved more sitting at the computer wishing I could write than actual writing.

When the soot-black snow melted away that spring and I no longer needed to wear two jackets for my ten-block walk to the subway, I started developing this stabbing toe pain. It felt like I broke my big toe, but couldn’t remember actually doing anything like stepping on a mouse trap or slamming it in a car door or whatever else you do to break a toe. At least every other month, I’d have a stupid spaz moment while walking, hypnotized by whatever album spun in my MiniDisc player to cover the sounds of the city, and trip on a ten micron high difference in the pavement. Some cable company that just spent all of the previous summer jackhammering a trench at six every morning, dropping in new fiber, and poorly sealing over the pavement — well, they either forgot where the fiber was, or lost it in some wave of mergers and acquisitions and deregulation and re-regulation. They re-dissected the pavement and left even more opportunity for me to fall on my face when one of my clunky boat shoes hit a new asphalt patch the wrong way.

And that’s what I told the doctor at the ER a week later, after a $60 cab ride to the nearest hospital on an early Saturday morning, when I could no longer put on a shoe or sleep in bed with a sheet on my foot. I spent a Friday night with every possible combination of foot-propping and elevating pillows and pieces of couch I could find, before I finally gave up and went in for a two-hour wait with some worn Sports Illustrated issues so old, I think they were talking about rumors that the Dodgers were leaving Brooklyn.

My feet are naturally fucked up. Every podiatrist who has examined them says they’re the worst they’ve ever seen, even a guy I went to who had been practicing since 1946. And on that morning in Queens Hospital, while I writhed in pain after a battery of x-rays, the ER doc paged every intern and resident from orthopedics and podiatry to come down and check this shit out. As a half-dozen guys in scrubs prod my feet, one of them, this guy with an uncanny resemblance to Samuel L. Jackson says, “hey man, you ever been worked up for the gout?”

Gout — I’d heard the word before, but didn’t know what it meant. I think one of my grandparents had it. And maybe it was a running gag with various old characters on The Simpsons. But no, I’d never been tested for it or diagnosed with it or anything else. So along with a cane, a soft cast, and a handful of Vicodin, they sent me home with an appointment to see a podiatrist who could tell me more about this gout thing.

New York City is the place to be if you want to be a writer, work in advertising, enjoy high fashion, make big bucks on the stock market, or you have old money and need to be in the center of the universe. But it’s not a place to be mobility challenged, as I found out the next Monday on my long hobble to work on a new aluminum walking stick with one regular shoe and one velcroed boot. Taking the subway involved at four long flights of stairs per trip; while I sat in the slow lane, taking it a tread at a time and gripping onto the rail for dear life, an army of insufferable guido pricks swore incessantly as they tore around me. And every time I got into a packed train car for the city, not a single self-absorbed person would give up their seat for the cripple trying to balance on one foot while hanging onto the rail above. Every step on the inflamed toe, now cherry red like it was hit with a hammer in a Warner Brothers cartoon, felt like pure evil. But the embarrassment and torture of the subway ride every day was far worse.

I got in with this podiatrist in Murray Hill, this Gary Shandling-looking fucker who glanced at my foot and without a second thought said, “yeah, that’s definitely gout.” He took x-rays and talked me into a $175 pair of orthopedic inserts to correct the flat feet, and I said yes, mostly because he had a really cute receptionist who talked to me. He got me an appointment with an internist to do some blood work, but first, he gave me a steroid injection into the joint of my big toe.

I don’t normally have a problem with needles. When I was a kid, I had allergy shots for three or four years, and I could probably handle jabbing myself with a hypo better than most junkies. But when a doctor says, “look, most podiatrists won’t give you this shot because it’s really hard to do, but I think I can try it,” followed with “I’m going to give you a shot of lidocaine so I can give you the actual shot,” then produces this giant railroad spike of a needle along with a giant jar of fluid that’s going in your intra-articular area, you tend to freak the fuck out. And I did. And I kept a straight face, until he had to push around the second needle and jockey with the syringe, like he was putting the eleventh gallon of gas in a ten-gallon tank. But I walked out of there — WALKED out of there, with both shoes on, no cane, and a Barry Bonds-like amount of steroid in the knuckle of my toe.

Here’s what I found out about gout, after a weekend of frenetic web searches: gout is a form of arthritis, where excess uric acid in the blood crystallizes in the coolest extremities of your body, where there’s the most pressure. Those crystals then cause inflammation and push into your nerves, making it feel like a lobster has clamped down on your toes. Doctors and junk science folklorists go back and forth every few years, either saying it’s caused by rich diet and alcohol, or genetics and heredity. Common treatment involves strict diet, a regimen of uric acid-depleting medication, or both.

And when I got to the internist’s office and got a few tubes of blood drawn, he told me the same thing, and gave me a script for allopurinol and some scare tactics about my daily McDonald’s regimen. The next day, he called and gave me the complete rundown, that my uric acid levels were off the chart, along with my cholesterol count, triglycerides, and every other bad thing that a 30-year-old shouldn’t have coursing through their veins. He told me to come back in six months and get more blood work to figure out if I needed Lipitor. But this was in April of 2001, and his office was in the World Trade Center, so you can do the math on that one.

I called my friend Cynthia, this Venezuelan swimsuit model in LA. She started emailing me about Bukowski a year ago, then read my books and became a fan. She told me she was a Venezuelan swimsuit model, and I became a fan. We met whenever one of us was on the wrong coast, and I considered selling everything I owned and moving to LA, except I just did that a year ago with New York, and it didn’t work out well.

“Cyn, how’s the city of Angels?”

“Horrible when you’re not here,” she said. “What happened with your doctor?”

“The prick told me I needed to take more pills, lose 40 pounds, go on a diet, and lower my cholesterol.”

“You don’t need to lose weight,” she said. “You’re fine.”

“Right back at ya,” I said. “But I’m hobbling around this fucking island like Quasimodo. I think I’m going to have to become a vegetarian,” I said. “I don’t know what the hell to do.”

“I’m a vegetarian,” she said. “It’s not that hard.”

“You live in the land of fruits and nuts,” I said. “The frickin’ Burger King out there has a vegan menu. I grew up in Indiana. Even the vegetables have meat in them. How the hell am I going to live on salads?”

“What about falafel? That’s vegetarian.”

“What the fuck is a falafel?”

“It’s ground up chickpeas, fried in a ball, in a pita. You’ve never had falafel?”

“I don’t even know where the hell to get it. The most ethnic food we had as a kid was Pizza Hut.”

“I’m sure you can find a guy in a cart selling it there. I know a really good place in the East Village — we’ll go the next time I’m in town.”

“I’m starving now,” I said. “I’m going to try to catch some lunch. Catch you later Cyn.”

Times Square might be the center of the universe for tourists, but that only makes it a horrible place to grab a quick bite to eat if you work there. When you’ve only got a half-hour between meetings, going to Sardi’s and beating past the Wednesday half-off theater crowd bussed in from Iowa isn’t an option. It’s one of many reasons my diet consisted mostly of grabbing a #2 meal from the mega-McDonald’s, and maybe switching off with the Pizza Hut Express hidden in the food court underneath the Viacom ghetto across the street. The BMG building had a giant cafeteria, but it wasn’t good for much except mediocre ten-dollar hamburgers, and occasionally running into celebrities. (I kept seeing Booger from Revenge of the Nerds eating lunch there.)

I prairie-dogged over the top of my cube to talk to my neighbor Amy. “Do you know of a good place for falafel around here?”

“There’s a guy with a cart that’s always on either 48th or 49th, between 7th and 8th,” she said.

I grabbed my MiniDisc player and headphones, and headed for the elevator. Down in the lobby, a group of ghetto kids stood at the security desk, trying to convince the guards to let them through the TSA-like checkpoint to go upstairs and tell Diddy they were the next big thing. Sometimes the guards would let them audition on speakerphone for the 30th floor receptionist. I always wondered if I could start some kind of scam telling wannabe rappers in the lobby I was a producer and could get them face time with Puffy for a small cash fee. But I was too hungry to deal with that today.

I cut east on 46th street, to avoid the crowds, and walked past the American Express office where I was always making last-second thousand-dollar payoffs to keep my corporate card out of hock. I hung a left back onto 48th and saw my destination, a green cart with glass walls and a middle-eastern looking guy manning the post, shuffling ice over cans of Coke in a plastic tub.

“Hi, uh, I’ll have a falafel?” I asked.

“Just one, boss?”

“Uh, I don’t know, actually. How big are they?” I had no concept whatsoever what constituted a falafel, or an order of falafel. For all I knew, falafel was one of those words that was both singular and plural. Does several falafels constitute a bunch of the fried balls in one pita, or many pitas, each with multiple balls? I had no idea.

“You never had a falafel? Here, try this out.” He pulled out one of the spheres from a pile just out of a fryer and handed it to me. My first thought was that it looked like a dried meatball, maybe something you got in an silver astronaut food pack and then reconstituted before adding to a spaghetti dinner.

I bit into the piece and was surprised by its crunchiness. It had a texture that was tactically satisfying, like the experience of biting into a hard-shelled M&M candy and finding the soft chocolate inside. The piece came straight out of the fryer and felt like it was a thousand degrees in my mouth, but this wasn’t the soggy, reconstituted, sad falafel patty you get in the freezer section of your local Kroger; this was the real deal.

I hurried back to the office with the paper bag containing the warm, foil-wrapped pita, got a soda from the break room, and sat at my desk to dig in. I quickly found falafel isn’t the best thing to eat at a computer, with tahini oozing from the seams onto your hands and pieces of lettuce and tomato overflowing onto the keyboard with every bite. And a single pita-ensconced sandwich wasn’t enough — I instantly regretted not buying two. But I loved the heartiness of it, and didn’t regret not eating some meat-based lunch. I always associated bean-oriented food with the thin, massless bean burritos you get at taco joints that taste like a beef burrito minus the beef. Falafel has a satisfying quality, and when you mix that with the tang of the tahini sauce offset by the crispness of the lettuce and the sweetness of the tomatoes, it’s a perfect storm of sandwich goodness.

I’ve eaten a thousand falafels since. From the raw food place in Mar Vista to the historic Mamoun’s in the heart of Greenwich Village; from the local sandwich shop I walk to almost every day in Silicon Valley to the time I discovered you could get a falafel plate at Dodger Stadium, I’ve loved every time I could wrap a pita around some fried or baked chickpeas. I never stuck with being a vegetarian — within a week of that attempt, I was at the Times Square Chili’s, eating the ten-pounds-of-ribs meal. But I cut the fast food, lost the weight, and still love me a good falafel.


Crippling gout and the bookcase swap

I had a dream that I had a crippling case of gout, and that my toes were completely out of alignment – like my pinky toe was at a 90 degree angle outward. When I woke up, my feet were really hurting. I hate when shit like that happens.

There must be a low pressure front moving in. I have four barometers in the house. Two are attached to my ankles and are size 11. The other two are chasing each other around the house like mad. If I want to know if it rains, I check my feet, and then see if the cats are insane that day. Works better than any mercury in a tube.

I finished moving Check it out and let me know if you find anything’s broken. There’s a lot of work to do, and I need to set up the blog and start posting news there.

I have to go to Denver next week. Highs in the low 90s, lows in the upper 50s. It’s bad enough that they are getting militant about carry-ons and luggage and I will have limited room, it’s worse when I have to pack both shorts and a jacket. I also realized last night that every single piece of dress clothes I own does not fit me whatsoever. All of my dress pants are 38s, and now when I wear a 34, it’s loose and needs a belt. I was also buying 2XL shirts, and now I’m right on the verge of going down to L. And 90% of the shirts I have are long-sleeved. I think there’s no way around a trip to Old Navy today to get a couple of shirts and a pair of pants.

I am not excited about a 6:20 AM flight Monday. I am getting excited about going to a game at Coors Field on Tuesday. The Rockies have really slid going into the All-Star break, but they were playing good last night, so maybe they’re over the hump and there will be some good baseball. They are playing the Dodgers though. The only advantage is that the Dodgers are currently a second baseman and two outfielders away from having an entire baseball team on the disabled list. Juan Pierre, Scott Proctor, Brad Penny, Mark Sweeney, Tony Abreu, Rafael Furcal – and Takashi Saito is probably out for the season. Fingers crossed.

I have lots to do on the gas book. It’s going well, but I am scrambling – I hoped to get a draft done by the end of the month, and that’s not looking as well as I thought.

My other project was swapping two of my bookcases, so there’s a shorter one next to my desk. I had this monsterous tall bookcase on that wall, and when I was at my desk, it made the room look darker. Now there’s a smaller one made of light wood there, and it does make it brighter. It really ties together the room. (No wait, that’s a rug.)

OK, off to read about natural gas cars.


Larry’s dad

Larry’s dad died the other night. There are a lot of very heavy things running through my head about that. First, Larry’s dad died. And I feel bad for Larry and his whole family. I mean, if anyone could deal with a situation, it would be Larry; I think if he lost three limbs from a freak case of gangrene, he would still be riding around on his motorcycle a week later using a broomstick and some duct tape to shift gears, as if nothing happened. The dude has seriously seen Papillion far too many times to really be affected by anything short of a close nuclear strike. But I do feel bad for the rest of his family. And while a lot of us seem to be either dealing with or avoiding our parental units, it seems that Larry had a genuinely decent relationship with his old man, and that makes the whole thing a damn shame. So my thoughts and condolences go out to the whole Falli clan.

To a lesser extent, the whole death thing really fucks with me. As an atheist, I don’t believe in many of the stock things you’re supposed to say at this time, and I really feel like a vegan at a hog roast. In some way, death doesn’t bother me, but it bothers me that I can feel that way when others are truly affected. And others have mentioned that they thought at some point later in life, I would have a schizoid episode and the grief of 40 years’ worth of funerals would all hit me at once, and maybe that’s true. I don’t really know.

There’s also the issue that I have a dad the same age as Larry’s, and he’s not exactly running triathalons these days, and sooner or later, I’m going to get the same phone call in the middle of the night. And that used to be an abstract concept, but now it really fucks with me. Even more, I am 23 years younger than my dad, and my doctors are bitching about my blood pressure and cholesterol, and the whole thing makes me think I should eat nothing but wheat germ and vegetable shakes and buy a treadmill and put it in front of my computer, because seriously, I’m going to snap my fingers twice and I’ll be 60. Fuck.


I went to the doctor yesterday. My foot got all better after predisone, and after a ten-day course, I stopped, and then the foot got worse and once again looked like a canned ham with toes. I went in and they decided to give me a cortisone injection in my ankle joint. This involved first giving me a couple of shots of lidocaine, and then pulling out some fluid, and then the actual injection. Because I go to a residence clinic, this meant the tiny exam room was filled with my doctor (a resident), an attending, a med student, and a nurse, plus a big old cart of supplies. I had to sign a waiver before they could give me the shot. The med student asked me a barrage of stupid questions that weren’t entirely stupid, but made me think she read about five paragraphs about gout in college and now for the first time had a real live case on the table. So yeah, the “do you eat shellfish” stuff was annoying, but maybe that helps in the long run, and she won’t misdiagnose her first real gout case in the wild, like 80% of the docs who have stared at my feet in the last decade.

When I’ve had the same procedure done in my toe or my knee, it was by a solo orth surgeon or podiatrist, and the banter consisted of nothing but “okay, here we go”, followed by many jabs of needles. This time, there was a whole mini-lecture of shop talk, with the attending saying “you want to go in shallow into the meta-subcarpal-lingual-inner-whatever and then turn to the left”, which was weird. The injection itself was not bad, at least not as bad as the inter-joint toe injections I had before – I was pretty much confessing to war crimes I didn’t do during that one. But any injection that first requires other injections is not that fun. This time, they used one needle apparatus and multiple syringes for the draw and the shot, which means I only had one hole in my ankle. It also meant I looked down and saw this giant piece of hardware stuck in my ankle for no reason.

I think the oddest thing is that when he was pushing fluid into the joint space and sort of jockeying around my ankle to get more in there, I had this really intense sensory memory experience. The injection, or the way he was pushing, felt entirely like one of the large-bore intramuscular allergy shots I used to get in my arm. And for a split second, it was like I somehow mind-melded with some ancient memory of being in the Elkhart Clinic in 1980. In that millisecond, I remembered all of these distant facts of the place – the hospital smell of the air, the bell in the elevator, that paging bing-bong sound in the office, the chairs, the cotton alcohol rub, the downstairs lobby waiting room. It was all so strange that all of that hit me at once, as if I touched an alien obelisk and was suddenly infused with the knowledge of another planet’s cultural secrets. I always thought smell was my strongest sense, but having my inner cells pushed around by a few moments by a liquid infusion seemed to trump that.

Anyway, the shot did good, although it was not as magic as I would have liked. I also got two prescriptions to try, and I am now on colchicine, and hoping it won’t make me shit my pants in the near future. I also got my blood tested – see previous discussion on cholesterol. I know I have high cholesterol. I know I can’t radically modify my diet without becoming a basket case. I know I could not have any of these problems if I ran five miles a day. I can’t do a treadmill on crutches. So there.

I think I’m starting another blog of technical stuff. I always run into a problem when I’m coding or writing and spend half the day researching it, and then find the stupid answer, and six months later, I’ve forgotten and need to start all over again. So I should be writing these down. And since 90% of the ruby on rails docs I find are consultants who do just this in an effort to scare up work, maybe I should do the same.

Okay, busy day. Gotta get on it.


Ankle thing

I went to another set of doctors yesterday about this ankle thing. They think that it’s an attack of gout, and not a sprain. The more I think about it, maybe that’s true. I was sick for a week and severely dehydrated; there was a cold snap the night it happened; it’s red; I’ve had gout before. What is differrent about this is that it’s up in the joint of the ankle, and not in a toe. )

Anyway, they didn’t shoot the ankle full of cortisone, which is what I’d prefer, but I guess it’s not easy to do. Instead, they put me on Prednisone for the next ten days. At first, I thought they were going to put me on it forever, which I would not want to do at all. I guess ten days is fine, although the second I can jump up and down and walk with no braces or crutches, I’m stopping. I’ve heard nothing but horror stories about pred, and I don’t want to gain 200 pounds on a starvation diet or whatever else. The good news is that the swelling in the foot went down like 75% overnight. The bad news is that I slept about 75% less last night, even after taking sleeping pills. So this could become problematic. I’m also going through all of the usual gout cures – ate a bowl of cherries, drinking cherry juice and a shitload of water, putting on an icepack now and again. My goal is to be somewhat functional by the weekend, or at least on just a cane.

Yesterday was my first good writing day in a while. This weekend I totally figured out how the second and third thirds of the books could happen – it all came to me in the shower, so I hobbled out, dried off, and wrote about eight pages of notes. (I always get my best ideas in the shower. Probably over half of Rumored to Exist was thought up in the shower. I need a waterproof computer in there.) So Monday was a day of not much progress, but a lot of shuffling and moving and outlining and that sort of thing. Yesterday was my first 2000-word day on this book since New York. And today was a quick 2000 words. If I could write 2000 words a day, five days a week, I would be much happier in life.

The only weird thing about my plot is that I totally thought of it and wrote it, and then that night I saw The Departed and some of the plot was similar. I mean, the story, the characters, the setting, all different. But just the outline, the way the pieces come together, bore some vague resemblance to what I was doing. This didn’t piss me off – I take it as a good omen. Truthfully, I rip off so many little things from other books and movies here, it’s not even funny. Like I rip off the idea from Total Recall that in the very beginning, a character tells the protagonist exactly what’s going to happen for the rest of the movie/book, and then you forget all about it, and then at the end, you realize, “Hey, that dude at Recall tells the whole story five minutes in!”

I actually watched Total Recall yesterday, just because I haven’t seen it in a while. It’s weird how it is both really good and really bad. I mean, Ahnold can’t act, and he always makes that same “AAAAGH” sound constantly. All of the characters are very stereotypical, and some of the sets and effects are very hokey. On the other hand, this was like the last big-action movie to be done without any CGI, which makes it one of those weird delineating marks. It’s like the last Ford car with a flathead engine, or the last year of the Harley with the Shovelhead engine. So it looks shitty, but it’s nostalgic. And I guess the thing about the movie is that it has this really twisting plot, and even after you watch it, you say “wait, was it all a dream?”

Anyway, I should get back to it…

P.S. Random Colorado observation of the day: often, a sealed package of food or condiment or whatever will somehow become super-pressurized by the time it gets to 5280 feet. Like, I have this little package of carrots and ranch sauce, and the thing of ranch sauce is bulging at the seams. Typically, I don’t think of this and open it, and ranch sauce explodes all over me. I think this also happens on airplanes, or maybe they package the salad dressing at a lower temperature or whatever.


Target cart

We went to Target the other night, and when I hobbled in on crutches, the greeter kid said “would you like a motorized cart?” Fuck yes, I would like a motorized cart! So he gave me one of those little Rascal things, with a basket on the front. It was not the best thing in the world – it had a weird squeak that slowly vanished as we added more junk to the cart, the reverse gear didn’t work, and it had two speeds: ‘dead stop’ and ‘go, dammit’ – but it sure beat hopping around a Super Target on crutches. I was a bit worried that I would get strange stares or the evil eye, for being a largely able-bodied individual using up the cart for the invalids. I did have my air cast and this little velcro booty thing, since I can’t wear a shoe, so I guess I had a small visual indicator. But I know I hate it when I see people using the carts and their only handicap seems to be terminal laziness. Anyway, I had fun with it, and now I want one, but I’m sure that by the time it shipped and showed up at my door, I would be 100% healed.

I’m currently not healed 100%, but I think I’m making slight progress. I can walk on one crutch for short distances, which helps in carrying stuff around the kitchen and whatnot. I’m sleeping well, but that’s the drugs. The air cast is starting to really bug me, probably from having a hunk of plastic strapped to the same exact place for days. I wish my particular model had an air bellows to add more cushion to the inside.

I started writing again yesterday – I have not been on schedule and I need to be, to regain my sanity. I’m working on this third book I was on all of last spring. I’m still struggling to get the second of three parts started. I have the beginning, and I know the ending, but how to arrange things evenly through that middle part is the catch. I also don’t know how absurd I can push things before they make no sense whatsoever. So, we’ll see.


A cripple again

So, I’m a cripple again. I managed to sprain my left ankle, maybe on Thursday. I say maybe because it’s another one of those weird injuries that happened in my sleep because my ankles and legs are all fucked up. I have extremely flat feet; every podiatrist that has ever looked at my feet has said they were the worst they’ve ever seen. My last podiatrist has been practicing for over 60 years and he told me that. One time when I was in the ER for another foot problem, they paged all of the residents on staff to come and look at my feet, they were so fucked up. I’m surprised nobody has photographed them for publication in some journal. Anyway, flat feet mean that when you run, you get severe shin splints. It also means it’s very easy for your foot to slightly twist and hit wrong and fuck up all sorts of ligaments and muscles. And I’ve found that sometimes even when sleeping, the position of my foot can be a little off, and when I wake up after six or eight hours of that, the ligaments are all jacked up.

So I woke up Thursday morning, and that’s what it felt like. I don’t know anatomy, but there’s a chunk of soft tissue at the base of your ankle, where it meets the foot, at the outside edge, and that was tender. So I wrapped my foot in tape, and limped around all day. I didn’t think much more of it, because this happens to me maybe two or three times a year. And maybe once a year, I will go to a doctor or the ER or a clinic, and they will look at it, and say “damn, you’ve got seriously flat feet”, then tell me it’s some kind of soft tissue damage, and I should tape it, take a bunch of tylenol, and it will be OK in a few days. And it usually is. And I’d rather save myself the $400 and eight hours of exposure to TB and screaming kids and not go to the hospital and just follow their advice. So that’s what I did. And Thursday night, we had to go to Walgreen’s for something else, so I bought one of those stupid velcro and nylon splint things that wrap around your ankle.

By Friday morning, I could barely walk. It felt like the splint thing did more damage than it helped. Luckily, I am crippled often enough that I own a cane, so I was able to hobble around a bit more. We even went to dinner that night, and that was nice. As an aside, here is my major major fucking pet peeve about having a jacked up ankle. When I am on a cane, EVERY. SINGLE. FUCKING. PERSON. I see asks me every fucking possible detail about why I am on a cane. EVERY FUCKING TIME. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to know myself. I’m sick of telling the story exactly two times after I tell it. And there is no story. What really amazes me is that show House has been on the air for, what, two or three seasons? I watched the first season before I got bored of it, and in that entire time NOBODY asked him why he was on a cane. NOBODY. Yet I can’t take an elevator or go to a restaurant without some mouth-breathing idiot asking me detailed questions about my medical profile. Today’s lesson: if you see a disabled person in a chair or on crutches or with a walker, DONT ASK THEM WHAT IS WRONG. Help them with a door, tell them to have a nice day, ask them about the weather BUT SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT WHY THEY ARE A CRIPPLE BECAUSE IT IS NONE OF YOUR GOD DAMNED BUSINESS. If you get to the point maybe where you are about to have sex with them, then you can ask, otherwise SHUT THE FUCK UP. And for those of you women riding public transportation, GIVE THEM YOUR SEAT YOU STUPID BITCH. You probably do stairmaster for an hour a day, but think you are too precious or entitled to give up your seat for two minutes to a person who can’t stand unassisted. And to people who think I am just overreacting, let me tell you this: THE ENTIRE TIME I EVER RODE THE MTA WITH A CANE, ONLY ONE PERSON GAVE UP HER SEAT FOR ME, AND SHE WAS LIKE 79.

Seriously, I am going to start telling people like that a Greenpeace protestor or Hillary Clinton campaigner knocked me over and broke my ankle.

Anyway, we got home Friday night, and my ankle was fairly fucked. So I took a bunch of pills to sleep: Gabapentin, Tylenol PM, and Tylenol-3 (Codeine). I slept about two hours, and it felt like someone had parked a truck on my leg. I then spent about two hours trying every combination of pillows and supports, none of which could put my leg in a position that didn’t hurt. But I was still in excruciating pain, and had to crawl to the restroom, since walking wasn’t working anymore. I also really wanted to sleep, but like I said, I had taken enough drugs to knock out Rush Limbaugh, and I was so awake, I could have flown a plane. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I woke up Sarah and told her we had to go to the ER.

I always hate the ER, because when you show up, even if you had ten gunshot wounds and were holding your severed arm in your lap, they still make you wait six hours, and then they ask you 50,000 stupid questions. (“So Mr, uh, Kornath, do you smoke”/”just sew back on my fucking arm already!”) The ER here was a completely different experience. The people were extremely nice, very efficient, and had me checked in within the time it takes you to get your food at McDonald’s. There was nobody in the waiting room, which is weird because I thought on a Friday night/Saturday morning at 3:30 AM, there would be scores of gangbangers or something. It was just me and Sarah in chairs, watching a Star Trek rerun from the original series, which I don’t 100% enjoy to the point that I’ll rush out and buy the DVDs, but it was entertaining enough, and it wasn’t the Jesus channel, so there. I also got a wheelchair when I got out of the car, and it had a million different adjustments and leg holders, so I spent forever fucking with that and considering maybe buying or renting one in the future.

We got a room, got a table, got all of the vitals taken, and after a while, the doc came in and bent it and felt it and looked at it and said it was a sprain. I should restate that everyone was incredibly polite and helpful and asked where we relocated from and how we liked Denver, and apologized for the wait, and on and on. It was weird. It was like anti-New York customer service. Anyway, as for the foot, there was some worry that it was a septic joint, because it was very red. But my skin is ivory-white, and if you put a piece of paper on it, it will leave a red mark, so it wasn’t a rash. That didn’t stop them from giving me some antibiotics and writing a bunch of shit on my foot with markers. They also gave me Vicodin, which is pretty much pure heaven. Once it kicked in, I was in this totally lucid state, and was babbling on about ideas for the million dollar idea blog, although I remember none of them now.

I got home with an aircast, a set of crutches, and 15 Vicodin tablets, which I am carefully rationing. I was able to sleep on and off through the weekend, and now I’m about caught up. The crutches are a huge pain in the ass. They’re very hard to use – you use completely different sets of muscles, and maybe if I had trained for the gymnastics events in the Olympics, it would be fine, but walking from the bed to the kitchen is about like running two miles at top speed for me, and the altitude doesn’t help, either. Doing something like using the toilet is very difficult, and taking a shower is impossible. (I did yesterday and it almost killed me. And I’ve still got all of this marker shit on my foot.) I couldn’t put any weight whatsoever on the ankle, although now I can put a tiny bit on there.

This is all incredibly depressing. I think everyone thinks it’s goddamn hilarious that I was down for a week with the stomach flu, and now I’m going to be out for however many weeks with this, except I don’t think it’s funny at all. If I believed in god, I would blame him, or maybe blame myself for something I did in the past to bring this on. When you alternate your day between being goofed up on pills and being in total agony, and your big project of the day is to get out of bed and walk ten feet to take a shit, you start to get really weirded out. And of course, the most beautiful two days of weather happened when I was bedridden. I’m sure when I get walking, it will snow out. I’ve been having a very bad spell lately anyway, because I’m not writing, and I’m not getting any of the stuff done that I said I would when I moved here, and the days seem to just vanish. And now I’m into this whole thing of one medical problem after another, and I’m only 36. I need to live twice this long to retire. I think that after I get this ankle working, I will quit trying to find a job, quit writing, quit every single thing on my plate and make it an 80 hour a week job to just go to physical therapists, go to gyms, eat an absolutely impeccable diet, go to allergists, see shrinks and doctors, and do absolutely nothing except obsess about my health, 24 hours a day. Because it seems that if I do any less than that, all of this shit happens.


New Year, New Gout

OK, I think I figured out how to change this site over to 2004. I hope it works. I’m starving and need to find something to eat, and I don’t have time to dick around with this anymore.

Nothing else to report. It was very nice outside, but the sudden temp change has triggered my gout and now my toes are sporadically killing me. I know it sounds like some funny disease that old, crotchety people have, but it fucking kills me. Imagine someone slamming both of your big toes in the trunk of a car, and then leaving you there for a week. I’m popping allopurinol like candy and eating cherries by the pound. There’s some enzyme in cherries and strawberries that helps dissolve it. I can still walk fine, no problems or anything, it’s just at the annoying stage.

OK, food, before everything closes. Contrary to popular belief, the city of New York does sleep. Later.