These are a few things you will see along the way as you walk to work in NYC. It never ceases to amaze me how much this city has to offer, after so many years of living here. This is my morning commute, down 5th Avenue from 89th street to 18th street.
Just one street in NYC…
Well, that’s just a nickname we gave Heliopolis Obelisk, which is the oldest manmade monument in New York City. You will find this unreal slab from the past near 81st street on a quiet little hill. Millions pass it each day and don’t even know the 3500 year old marvel is watching over them. A gift from Egypt in 1881, it took 112 days just to move it from the shores of the Hudson River to where it stands now. Underneath it lies a hidden time capsule with a Bible, A dictionary, the complete works of Shakespeare, an 1870’s census, a guide to Egypt, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and a small sealed box from the man who financed the transportation of the obelisk, the contents of which, no one knows (but was probably a Twinkie).
Old King Jaliello
You wouldn’t expect to find the King of Poland in Central Park, but you will, thanks to the Nazis.
So 1939’s Worlds Fair had this statue greet people at the Polish Pavilion on loan from Warsaw. Remember, NYC has a ton of Polish folks, and thank God, because perogies are amazing. Well, the war broke out, and the statue couldn’t go home, so it was moved to Central Park as a gift from Poland to the brave Men and Women who served overseas. Now he sits, swords crossed, like a badass, protecting the turtle pond at 79th street just across the way. One of my favorite statues in the city for sure, and makes one hell of a silhouette.
specifically the Lehman Gates at 66th street. Designed by the famous Paul Manship, who also did reclining Prometheus at Rock Center, this is a lovely deco gate that has a super playful jauntiness about it, with pan, animals, and birds all around. What I love is that you can walk right through the center of the zoo, and even see some of the animals, for free, any day of the year. The gate itself is the perfect entrance to a children’s zoo, and reinforces the notion that even in a steel and concrete hardened city like New York, you can find a little whimsy.
The British Empire Building
Rockefeller Center is one of my favorite places in NYC. No other complex of buildings scream the deco power of a city on the verge of becoming a legend. Everything about it, every perfect angle, is a throwback to a time when commerce, culture, and art collided in a beautiful harmony. The British Empire Building at 620 5th Ave is no exception. Patina green copper doors emboldened with golden statues signifying the 9 main trades of England. Above the door an ornate crest displaying “Dieu Et Mon Droit” in gothic lettering. “God is my Right” being the motto for the throne of England, to be found on any passport a British citizen holds, is the translation, but it is also a slight jab at the former occupying ruling class; Jennewein, the designer of the door, is said to have chosen that phrase not only because of the British throne, but because it was also the motto of Alexander Hamilton’s NY Militia The Heart of Oaks. Take that you Limeys! (I actually really like British folk.)
Oh boy oh boy, look at that penis, I mean, building right there in the middle of Manhattan. Nothing screams virility more than this 70 story concrete wang of a complex built in 1930 by badass #1 JD Rock.
What can’t you say about this place. Theres a giant Christmas tree, an ice skating rink, art by Diego Rivera that was censored during the Pinko years, an underground city that stretches 10 city blocks, even a Banana Republic. I mean, it’s dope.
What I really love about this building is why it is what it is. Rockefeller was originally going to build an opera house here. Then the market crashed and the country went into the Great Depression, causing millions to go hungry and be out of work. Instead of halting work, he did the opposite; he built bigger. Labor was cheap and plenty and he gave jobs to thousands of people. The reward was one of the greatest landmarks in NYC and a more stable economy to boot. That’s NYC people, hell or high water we make it happen.
The Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building (which everyone calls the Christ-ler Building) is my 2nd favorite building in the city (right behind Grand Central Terminal). Why? Because it’s a real looker. I mean who builds a skyscraper out of stainless steel? We do. There are lots of reasons to love this building at 42nd street, but most of the reasons you might not know.
There was a private club and speakeasy at the top (reopen that please).
The first water bottling plant was in the basement. You’re welcome Desani.
The Cooper Union (a free university here in NYC) owns all the land under the building.
The spire was secretly hidden and was installed in only 90 minutes to fool a building going up downtown, hence, winning tallest building in the world (in 1930)
Photographer Margie Bourke-White (see below) lived in an apartment on the 61st floor and had the highest toilet in the world. She paid 387.92 a month. I’d literally kill someone for that right now.
New York Public Library
No body reads anymore. I mean look at this place. Empty. That, is my gift to you.
The NYPL is a fantastic place to visit. Sure there are cool lions outside, and maybe some of the best flagpoles I’ve ever seen, but its the inside that really holds the treasure. Upstairs is the Rose Reading room, which anyone can go to. It’s basically the Sistine Chapel of New York City and maybe the most impressive place to read Harry Potter anywhere in the world.
What would be an iconic NY landmark without crazy history factoids right? For instance the library sits on a very interesting plot of land. It was the battlefield for George Washington against the British during the Battle of New York, it was then a potters field for unknown dead, then it was the main reservoir for NYC. I’m not even going to mention that Ghostbusters was shot there.
The Empire State Building
Ads of another Age
One of my favorite things to do is spot old building ads. If you look up in the city, which is harder to do then you think, you will be rewarded with a window into the past. On faded brick facades throughout town, the remnants of old commerce still haunt us; Italian tailors, Hat shops, Lawmen, and barbers left their mark high above the city streets, and while their shops may be long gone, their memory is all around us.
So, a billion people walk past this monument across from Madison Square at 23rd street and never even realize there is a dead guy inside of it.
General Worth is one of only three tombs located on the island of Manhattan. One of them, yes, is Grant’s Tomb (3rd favorite building) and the other one, well, I’m going to keep a secret. This strange little obelisk though stands watch over one of the most iconic intersections of the world, and the dead Gen inside gets one of the best views of one of the most famous building in the world…
Just kidding. Well, maybe not. Eataly has more visitors perhaps then Grand Central Terminal, the busiest station in the world, and over 22 thousand products for you to put in your face, all of them, delicious. A big shout out to my man Mario who was nice enough to jump on our little sandwich show, which you can watch here.
The Flatiron Building
AKA the Fuller Building or the Cowcatcher, the Flatiron Building is NYC inconcrete (that’s an “incarnate” joke folks. I’m here all week). This is how you maximize use of space people. Built in only 4 months, everyone thought this sucker was going to fall down during the first strong wind. It didn’t, and quickly became a treasure of the city. Some interesting facts about the building is that it had no female bathrooms (imagine that) and its elevators were water powered.
Oh, one more funny fact… the term “23 skidoo” comes from the Flatiron building because the shape would cause strong gusts of winds to blow up the skirts of the women walking by. Cops use to give ogglers the ol’ 23 Skidoo when thier eyes lingered a little too long (and if you go into the subway stop there, the tile mural there shows hats blowing in the wind, just another little nod to the ol Skidoo).
Ok, just a Lego store, but it has some of the most amazing displays that I’ve ever seen and they change frequently. When they do a crew of Legoists come in over night, black out the windows, and construct their masterpiece in under 8 hours, sometimes using over 1 million bricks. I mean I’ve worked late hours before but that’s nuts.
Davy Jones Street Art
Now this is literally street art. Word is that a homeless chap by the name of Davy Jones creates these amazing chalk art pieces on the sidewalks south of 23rd street. If you walk the streets enough you start to see his work everywhere from Lady Liberties to Horse Drawn Carriages. It’s one of the few times looking down in the city gets you a show.
Well folks, that’s it. We’ve arrived at 18th Street and 5th Avenue. Mind you there is a TON more to see and do (the Met, Paris Theater, Chicken and Turntables) but this is just a walk to work (I litterally shot all these in one morning, walking). This is what you would see, in one hour, walking from 89th to 18th street. Just another day. Now time for a cup of coffee. Thanks for walking with me.
Today, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s a day that hopefully we all celebrate equality of all Peoples. Today, we also celebrate the man who this holiday is named after, who was also considered “the most powerful Negro” by the FBI. Here are some other interesting facts, brought to you by our friends over at Today I Found Out:
• MLK’s birth name was Mike King Jr.
• MLK tried to commit suicide at age 12.
• If MLK wasn’t a smoker, he may have not been assassinated. (smoking kills kids.)
• MLK graduated COLLEGE by age 19 like a holy Doogie Howser.
• MLK spent his honeymoon in a funeral parlor. Kinky.
• MLK’s mother was also assassinated.
• Utah is officially the most racist state being the last to recognize MLK Jr. day in the year 2000.
These are just a few interesting facts. Of course T.IF.O. does a great job explaining all these interesting curios of history, but you’ll have to go over there to find out more. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day everyone. Remember to love one another.
Well, well, well. Look who it is. 37-year-old you thinking it’s 1998. I guess you just found out you can’t play soccer/basketball/badminton. I’ve now had the pleasure to have torn my Achilles tendon in Spain playing a friendly game of soccer. It’s an amazing injury, and something that is surprisingly common (you find out once it happens to you, but you NEVER heard of it before) so I will be outlining the entire process here, updating as it happens, for any poor soul that has this mythical injury befall them. I promise to be honest, and give you the good the bad and the ugly as it happens. Mostly the ugly. Part I: How it happened. It’s a bit amusing and concerns a bachelor, a father, and a misunderstanding (this will later become the bi-line to my own autobiography). So my cousin Marco from Rome has moved to Spain with his Spanish fiancée Elena, and plans to marry in La Caruña on the North-West coast. It’s an amazing little town and I’m excited to go, but before I go my father calls me and warns me, “Roberto, they are planning a calcetto game. You must defend the American Serrini name.” This is where the disaster begins. You see, Marco told my father over Skype that there was to be a “calcetto” game. Unfortunately for me, “calcetto” to my father means “foosball” as in table soccer. This made sense to me, because, my father is the master of foosball, and we have a bit of a rivalry going on. No one will ever forget the 1999 match at Hethrow Airport terminal 4 where we drew a crowed waiting for our flight. Dreams were made and broken that day friends, made, and broken. So I arrive in Spain wearing my Vilebrequin shorts and Tom’s canvas shoes, and these fools are like “where is your gear buddy? We’re playing Calcetto today”. You see, for anyone born after 1960, Calcetto means “little game of soccer” not in a physical sense as table soccer, rather in a friendly game of soccer way. This was the real deal. Long story short, I was borrowing a pair of cleats one size too small, and someone elses Roma jersey (cause you come with spares apparently) and we were off to play a quick 90 minute friendly match with the Spanish.
4 minutes into the game someone kicked the back of my foot hard. Really hard. I went down on the ground, rolling, as if in slow motion. When I came to a sliding stop I looked around. Everyone one else was looking at me. I yelled in Spantalian “What the fuck guys? Who kicked me?!” – here is the real funny part; if you know anything about soccer, and Italians and soccer especially, you will know that we are famous for dramatic fake injuries. Case in point: http://youtu.be/LC-H2wXK4T4 So everyone thought that I was completely faking it, because NO ONE WAS EVEN AROUND ME. Which brings me to lesson 1: 1) It can happen anywhere, in the bathroom, the poolroom, or the boardroom. No one was even close to me, but I swore to God that I got kicked in the back of the left leg, right on the heel. So everyone one else was like “c’mon, stop being an Italian and get up. We don’t even have refs in this game” and I couldn’t walk, at all. Finally my cousin came over and asked “are you for real?” and realizing that I wasn’t kidding, dragged me to the sideline where I sat for 86 minutes. I used the time well, quickly going to the internet to see what the hell could have caused this. One thing that was scaring the bejeesus out of me was that while I wasn’t in any real pain, I did notice that the tight cable that is usually where the achilles tendon is under your skin was now…gone. just gone. Nothing there but soft flesh. Skeevie isn’t the word. I soon found out from my doctor the internets that I had ruptured my Achilles tendon. It confirmed the sensation of being “kicked” or a “gun shot” to the heel. It said “get to the hospital right away as time is of the essence when it comes to heeling”. 86 minutes. You might not realize how exhausting it is to hop on one foot, but you will if you have to do it for a quarter-mile because the Spanish like to part as far as possible from a soccer field as possible. Part II: Spanish Hospitals So here I am in Spain at the Spanish ER. People are very nice, and fortunate for me I have dual citizenship which allows me access to their wonderful free healthcare. Sure you have to wait 3 hours, but that’s no different than midtown Manhattan. The dozen of nurses and doctors that came in to see me were all very nice, and overly optimistic. One thing that was interesting was that everyone one was writing up some sort of paperwork, and each one kept getting the foot wrong, saying it was the right, vs left. This is not the greatest thing to hear at a hospital. They all said “I’m sure it’s not too bad, probably just a bandage”. That was until the last guy, who was the surgeon who came in, put down the clipboard, and said “it’s completely ripped. We need to operate right away.” So the way free healthcare works is a) it’s free and b) you get it when you get it, meaning, you got to wait till someone is available to operate on you. This meant 3-4 days in a hospital, which I really didn’t feel like doing. A quick call to my doc (best doc in the world, Sherri Sandel of Lenox Hill – you rock) confirmed that I could wait to have surgery back in the States, and as long as I had some pain killers and pumped myself full of anti-coagulates I wouldn’t stroke out on the plane. Great. So at 4am after a good 6 hours at the hospital I was released. Everyone was still there; all the guys from the game, and their girlfriends, and some other’s that came by to support. That’s one thing about Europeans and family; they go the extra mile. Perhaps they felt a tinge of guilt for thinking I was faking it;) So longer story shorter they threw a splint on it, and I walked flat foot for the rest of the weekend. Probably not the best idea to walk on it, but there was a wedding to attend, and grappa can fix many things. A few days later I was at the airport injecting anti-coagulant into my guy and ready to fly home. The real healing was about to begin. Part III: American Hospitals So, I was refered to Dr. Jeff Schildhorn of NY Bone and Joint by my doc, and he’s the best. Young guy, honest talking, and knows that I want to get back on my feet pronto. A sonogram confirms it is completely torn, and there are two options. Some people let it heal on its own, which is safer, as there is no risk of infection, but it might happen again in the future. Other is surgery, which will heal it better, but there is a risk of infection. He tells me that in “olden times” they used to cut the Achilles of captured soldiers so they couldn’t run away, but the problem was that it would heal and they would escape, so this injury is not fatal, per se. Yes… per se doc, save the fact that I have not been captured at war, just defeated at a friendly game of soccer. So I opted for the surgery. I never had surgery before, or even broken a bone, so I was really excited about going in. He said it was an easy procedure, takes about an hour, and you can go home a few hours after the anesthesia wears off. Anesthesia. Cool. I asked him if I would say anything funny while I was under and he laughed. “That’s the first thing everyone asks.” then nothing. “So?”. He stopped smiling, “well, yes. You might.” great. This should be real interesting with the girlfriend. I’m more worried about what shit comes out of my mouth then being cut open… this friends, is where a man’s true fear lies. Part IV: Surgery Surgery was actually… pleasant. I went to Surgicare of Manhattan off the request of Dr. Schildhorn. apparently Doctors have to make “reservations” at certain facilities to do surgery, and some places are better than others. This was the Le Bernardin of outpatient centers; it had “all the new toys” as he put it, and if he was happy, I was happy. The anesthesiologist came to see me first. He was a nice guy with a fun lisp and told me everything that was going to happen. I had him explain fully as I was fascinated by the process. “Well,” he began, “basically it is a cocktail of drugs we inject into your I.V. – some for anti inflammatory, some for blood consistency, some to block nerve signals and regulate breathing, kinda a long island iced tea of knockout juice.” I was fascinated. In the operating room I lied face down. They put like a hundred very thick, warmed blankets over me. I don’t think I even needed the knockout juice I was so comfortable. My guy put the IV in me and asked if I was cool, which I was. He then went, “ok, see you in a bit.” squeezed a plunger and I was out, cold. Amazing. I don’t remember the first parts of waking up, but I do remember my girlfriend and best friend Dave Hanson sitting next to me. They were happy to tell me that when I first came to, I looked over to my girlfriend Miranda, and said, quite plainly, “Now…. I am Hemingway.”. Take that for what you will folks, take that for what you will. I now had a splint on and a jar of oxycodone. I was ready to heal. Part V: Week 1 I got home. I wasn’t to put any weight on it and keep it elevated as much as possible. It did not hurt, at all, and that was strange to me. I laid down on the couch and took out my phone. On Facebook a close friend of mine MC Illspokinn had posted something about raising money for an operation. I texted him right away, “what happened?” – minutes later, “Achilles tendon rupture”. I cried I laughed so hard. “Face time. pronto.” as his image came up on my phone he was in the EXACT same position I was in on the couch. We both started laughing. He was in France, playing basketball. Thus began, what I would find out, is that this happens to A LOT of dudes. It says 1 in 5000 on the internets, but you soon realize you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who knows someone who this has happened to. What is amazing to me is how devastating it is. You are out, on your ass, for months. I guess it took down a demi-god… it must be shitty for humans. Illspokinn told me that the pain was going to be unbearable. He was about two days ahead of me time wise, so he said “at least you get the good shit in America, here, they give you fucking aspirin and some Sancerre. Bullshit.” but the truth is, and maybe this is to the credit of my surgeon, that I really was in no pain at all. If not for the heavy splint on my foot I wouldn’t even know anything was wrong. I really only took the pills because, well, I was bored and, hey… I had Percocet! So I was basically doing one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one at night. The slow roll, half of the allotted dosage. I tell you what did help was the acetamin in the pills because my foot would balloon up sometimes. A quick tip; you might wanna be Hemingway and slip a little scotch in the mix here, I’m gonna say it’s a bad idea, if nothing else you get a really bad headache, besides, you can die pretty easily.
In a week’s time I would go back to Schildhorn to see how we did. He would then put a cast on me for about a month, then a boot after with physical training beginning about 5 weeks in. In 6 months I would have my foot back. Till then I kept the foot up, and ordered everything I could from Amazon; water protective covering, a bag for my crutches, even a peg leg. Eyepatch and hat coming soon. I also ordered a shit load of supplements and vitamins. Here is the list:
Proline Lysine Glycine Vit c Turmeric Calcium Pycnogenol® Hyaluronic acid Gelatin Ginger Boswelian Bromelain Fish oil
Lots of Broccoli, lots of protein, and lots of … pineapple? Oh well, if someone will think it can help, I’m gonna do it.
Part V: Week 2
Went into Schildhorn, and was super excited to get the damn splint off and get a cast on. I felt the cast was going to be nice and secure, and hell, one step closer to recovery. I was also really excited to see what the hell my foot looked like. The past week was interesting; having it up it was no problem, but as soon as I put it down all the blood would rush down there, like what happens to your head when you hang upside-down. Weirdest thing, and it freaked me out. (I would find out it is totally normal, so dont worry if it happens to you). I had been really good, keeping it up the whole time and staying off the crutches, which brings me to lesson 2:
Lesson 2: you will suck at crutches.
They are hard, they hurt, and you will suck. You will not ever be this guy:
You will not have a good feeling. Anyway, I stayed off them. I am fortunate enough to have a fantastic girlfriend who I live with who takes excellent care of me, who could make me some meals in the morning and stock an amazing cooler full of delights to keep my tummy entertained. That mixed with amazing friends to come by and keep me from loosing my mind, I was in a good place. I honestly, have no idea, how someone would do this living alone. No idea.
So coming into get the splint off and a cast on was a real treat as it meant being closer to walking. I was even maybe a bit gitty about it, perhaps just from being outside for the first time in a week! Happy as a clam I came into the office and was shown into an examination room… and then I saw this on the wall:
Really Schildhorn? Really? Too soon.
Anyway, doc came in and took the splint off. I got a view of the disaster down below… I warn you… nothing too pretty.
Well, actually, not nearly as bad as I thought. He did a great job, even put the scar off to the side so it wouldnt rub againast my shoes once healed. True professional. He said it looked so good that if I wanted I could go right into the boot. That made me happy, super happy, but I opted for the cast. 1) I’ve never had one. Kinda interested to know what it’s like, and 2) I’m a fucking klutz. When the splint was off I got a sinking feeling in my stomach, because I was totally exposed. I could feel the tendon being held together by two stitches. Get that friggin’ cast on me STAT. And so he did.
Special props to Miranda Kendrick for the designer racing stripes.
Part VI: Week 3
Well, at least I’m re-familiarizing myself with Roman Numerals. Wonderful.
Another week, another adventure. The cast lasted two days before I was sick of it. It felt too tight (like my toes were numb from no blood circulation) and the angle of the cast was such that I constantly had my leg out at a weird angle, or looked like a dancer trying to sit elegantly (and failing…miserably) – So back to the doc, where he cut it off. You might have wondered how they cut a cast off (I did) and yes, its a friggin’ circular saw. The conversation went like this:
Me: So how do you cut the cast off? Doc: With this! (pulls out circular saw, fires it up, high pitch whine makes my balls crawl inside my guy) Me: ….! Doc: Don’t worry… (puts it up against face, nothing happens)
So its a vibrating circular saw… it doesn’t cut your skin. Science. Fuck yeah.
So the cast was off, and the boot is now on…
It’s better, but a warning: you are not healed. Psychologically it made me feel like I could get around, even though I still am not to put weight on it for another 4 weeks. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It’s heavy, and what happens is the strain to keep it up kills your leg. Groin especially. My mother made the trip up from Florida (It takes either me getting married or mauled to get her up here) and we thought we could crutch down the block to lunch. I ended up hurting my upper calf, like I pulled it. I texted my friend Corey (Illspokinn) in France who has the same injury and is about 3 days ahead of me to see how it was going. His reply: “Alright. My upper calf is killing me. Like I pulled it”. Seems like that can happen. Beware. What gets me is that no one… anywhere… tell’s you this shit. Not even the doctors. Another thing is because it’s so heavy, even with your foot up, it tends to rotate outward, opening up your knee and bending it against the joint. If you’re not careful, you can really screw up your knee. I ordered a knee brace to hopefully keep me in one piece. Corey said it definitely helps. Anyway, was nice having the momma around, especially because it was my birthday, so she cooked a big meal for me and the friends, and we got into a very deep conversation about immigrants, veal, and the use of vinegar as a cleaning product. My pop had to stay home with the dog (that’s true) but he did send me a lovely birthday/helper gift: The Brookstone Rover Spy Tank:
Cool little gizmo you can control with your phone – it has a two way radio, so I can visit Miranda in the kitchen, and she can put a sandwich on top of the tank, then I can drive it back to the office and in my mouth. Oh, it also has night vision for when it’s late and I need cake. Good thinking pop. All in all, these are little things to help me stay off the leg. I’ve had it up again for the last two days and the pain subsided. You really can’t have it up enough. It’s a shame, I was getting good at the crutches. I will say this; get yourself a crutch bag (or even just tie a plastic bag around your crutch like you’re your grandmother) – you will need it. Another tip: Lesson 3: The wing nuts on the crutch go behind you, otherwise they will attack your pockets. Yeah, I found this one out the hard way. See, they use wing nuts on the crutches where you put your hands. If you have them forward, they will, get caught in your pockets, and trust me, you will fall, or at the very least trip and curse like a sailor. There are two solutions; make sure they are pointing behind you, or, don’t wear pants. Either is fine. Oh, there is one other solution; become a pirate:
Yep. A Brooklyn Pirate. That my friends is the iWalk 2.0 – Im not sure what the 1.0 was, and I really hope I never do. If you do a little research and check out their testimonials, you will drink the kool-aide and think you will be able to walk and use your hands, you know, like a human being, or at least a simian. And while, yes, you can, the probability is, you won’t. Cause you will feel like an idiot.
So, back to sitting with my leg up, editing away… I did find a great blog of another gent that outlines the whole process wonderfully. Thanks Mario Sanchez!
Part VII: Week 4
So time is flying by, and things are getting a little better. End of this week I go back in to the doc and start, hopefully, PT. Last Sunday I decided to go to Floyd’s and play some Bocce – which, besides video games, is the only sport someone in my predicament can play. As I hobbled in one of the guys on the other team who I never met before looked at me and said, “Achilles?”. He then swung around and showed me a big scar on his ankle. Crazy. Even stranger, an old friend of mine from London came to visit. She was sitting in my living room and seemed to know everything I was going through. Then she told me it happened to her 4 years ago playing Badminton (that’s like Soccer for English folk). I cannot believe how many people this happens to and I had NEVER heard of it the day before it happened. Everyone says the same thing. Unreal. Anyway, updates. My injured leg is now visibly smaller than my other leg. Freaking me out. Started to do leg lifts and stuff on the bed. I’m pretty useless and the leg is super weak. I’ve been keeping it on the ground, cause I can, but the foot swells something fierce. Must remember to keep it elevated. Washing it is a special joy thought, I tell you. My knee is super weak these days; the weight of the boot causes the leg to rotate out, putting a lot of weight at a weird angle on the knee. I’ve gotten a knee brace from Amazon and that has helped a lot. Other than that I’ve been caring lots of stuff in my underwear.
I tell you. Sandwiches, remotes, deodorant, Saran Wrap, you name it. Underwear is great. Like the backpack you wear. On your ass. Warning: Do not carry milk chocolate or open containers of yogurt in your underwear. Trust.
Part VIII: Week 5… I guess
Boy these weeks are just flying by. Went to the doctor. He asked “why are you here?” I was like “Cause, last time I was here you said come back in two weeks. So… I’m here.” “Oh.”. So I guess we weren’t starting physical training which was similar to your parents telling you that you’re going to Disneyland then saying, “oh” and not going. Ger-rate.
Anyway he gave me the “PT Prescription” which I’m gonna give to a place closer to me. Paying 60 bucks in cabs each time would have killed me. Best to find a place I can walk to, and for some reason I feel like the physical therapy in Brooklyn is a little more hard-core than midtown Manhattan. Im just saying if I were a boxer I wouldn’t go to the 56th street Equinox, I’d probably hit up Tony’s Auto Repair and Gym on Atlantic Avenue. represent.
Anywho – here is the prescription: One thing that popped out at me was the part about the scar tissue. I hadn’t really even thought about it because it’s been under wraps for most of the time. Outta sight, outta mind right? Now though, I’m taking the boot off to sleep and also keeping it out during the day as much as I can. Frankly it was killing my knee, and I don’t think it was doing much in the way of healing it. The scar looks pretty good as far as scars go, but having read that it can be a problem with flexibility I’ve been putting liberal amounts of Aquaphor on it to give it a proper chance to heal. And my mother said getting tattoos would never teach me anything.
I’ve seen worse.
One thing I will say… the foot loves to swell up. If you keep it down for any amount of time it balloons up and sucks. I try to keep the compression bandages on it, and keep it elevated if I can. I’m also not taking any medication; no ibuprofen or pain killers. Just a shitload of the supliments, which, either have or have not been doing anything. All I know is the doc accused me of doing PT at home and I haven’t. Trust in the power of pineapple my friend. Trust.
Lesson 3: you will love, and hate, your boot.
The boot gives you a nice feeling of protection. It is so strange how vulnerable you feel when your foot is exposed for the first time. Just placing it on the ground made me flinch, like it was made of glass. The reality is that if you do it a while, if you play with it, massage it, flex it, you will start to gain confidence in it. Taking it in and out of the boot was key for this, but I will say, that the damn velco on the boot if FUCKING CRAZY. Even the doc, the first time he put it on me, had trouble getting the velcro loose. This is like NASA grade velcro folks, and if you make a complete seal, then good luck not snapping a fingernail backwards trying to get it off.
I have, however, discovered a little trick: if you seal the velcro at an angle, so some of the strip runs off the contact point, it gives it a little lip you can use to pull up. This is akin to folding back a little tape on a roll of packing tape to make it easy to get a strip the next time. For your consideration, exhibit A and B:
Finally, and most importantly, I got a new “toy” this week called MobiLeg‘s and I cannot recommend them enough. Unlike my peg-leg-piece-of-shit (see above “A Brooklyn Pirate“) the MobiLeg is just a supped-up crutch. The Cadillac of crutches really. My good friend Russell Dreher had told me about them and as soon as I saw them I was like … um, yes.
First, they look good. One thing I hate about crutches is that you look like you’re on crutches. Sounds obvious, but try walking into a bar and not everyone turn around and either give you a “oh, poor man” look or worse “ew, a poor man” look. There is a quiet racism against the crutched folk of the world, and while there are worse forms of discrimination, I don’t want to feel weird while getting a beer at my local. I don’t blame people; I am a sore thumb; I look gangly, I sound like a garbage truck when I move, and I’m as awkward as Gwendoline Christie trying to get out of a Fiat 500. Ugly all around. These MobiLegs, well, they make you a little prettier.
They come in “future white” so they look like something out of Gatica which I’m down with. They are also minimal, which is always sign of good design. Best of all, they dont look so much like crutches as they do a future mech suit that Tom Cruise would wear. I’m in. But their look is only secondary to their function… lemme break it down for you:
• Meshed, spring-loaded pit catchers. ‘That’s right, mesh. So it breathes. It’s light. It’s flexible. No chafing or rashes. And spring-loaded? Yeah, suspension. If you ever used crutches the FIRST thing you ask yourself is “I wish they had springs in them… like a pogo stick… for your pits.” Someone got high and made these. They’re perfect.
• Totally adjustable and light. The hight of your boot might make it so one needs to be higher than the other. The length of your hand to armpit vs. hand to foot might be different on either arm. This lets you adjust it. On the fly.
• Football rocker foot. The rubber nubbin at the end of my old crutch, in a word, sucked. First, it would slip – more than once. Sometimes it would plunger on the floor and make a pop noise as I pulled it up. I never encountered a thing that could slip and suck at the same time. Also, propping a door open with it would make it get stuck underneath because the rubber was thin and flexible like a sorority girl with low self esteem. THIS is different. Its big, fat and shaped like a potato. A nice potato like you get at a Danny Meyer restaurant. It rocks on the floor, and doesn’t suck, and you could prop open a steel garage door with it and not worry. Nailed it China, great job!
• Dope grips like you’re in a video game killing aliens or Nazi’s or Nazi Aliens (Xbox… get on that). I hate the grips on my old crutches. It’s like they made crutches in 3 BC out of sticks and were like “Ok. Well that’s done. Now we have crutches. Forever. What’s next?” – anyone that walks for any amount of time will tell you more than anything your hands hurt unless you are Yusuke Tanaka (look it up.) – These… these grips… are a bit of magic. They do what grips are supposed to do; make your arm part of the crutch. They maximize the contact surface so that your arm flows into the crutch, taking pressure off points of your hand. It’s gorgeous, and a pleasure.
So, MobiLegs. Bravo. I honestly don’t know why they would make crutches any other way. There is no benefit to the classic style. People … are our TV’s square boxes anymore? No. Do our cars have wooden spoked wheels on them? No. No they do not. Do we wear dresses to go swim in the ocean any longer? NO. God no. So why has it taken this long to make a better stick to lean up against with I ask you?
One last thing about my new dope crip-sticks. You can buy “skins” for them. Yeah. Exactly. Like you can jazz up your injury. Robin blue, Carbon Fiber, or even Racing Flames. I bought the Carbon Fiber, but after seeing how nice the white looked, I left the stock color untouched. Amazing. 119.00 bucks well spent.
WEEK 8: The Reckoning!
So… been three weeks since an update. Wanna know why? Because there has been no change. This may have been the toughest part for me mentally. You reach a point where you still have this damn boot on, and nothing seems different. that is, you are getting used to wearing a big friggin boot on your leg. You’re used to kids looking at you walk down the street, used to getting in cabs, used to restaurants looking at you like something they have to deal with. Maybe its living in New York that amplifies it; a town built on walking. In any case, you feel it towards the two month stretch, and it is a ball breaker.
But then… just like that… there is hope.
At two weeks the doc said to start physical therapy. I was nervous; my foot was extremely tender, and I relied on the safe, warm comfort of the boot I hated so much. I was also excited to get the healing, the real healing going. I went to One on One Physical Therapy in Brooklyn. Luckily they were located in the same building as my gym… this way I could get a gym trainer and see the PT the same day, because it was still hard to get around. I was fat now, a good 20 lbs over weight, and definitely had improved my guy size. I needed to start working out, because along with not being able to walk, I needed to feel good about myself. Lots of surprises here….
First… you can walk and dont know it and that is very weird. When I went to PT the first time the trainer asked me to take my boot off and walk. Walk. Just like that. I made this noise like an old man confused by modern technology, but she assured me I was ok to walk, and you know what, I was. I actually walked, without the boot, right there and then. Weird, isnt the word to describe the sensation. Alien is much better. The point here is that the boot is a blessing and a curse, and if someone doesnt tell you to get out of it… you may not want to, even though you think you do.
Second…. you are fucking weak. REALLY weak. Working out was abysmal. Pushups? I could do 30 without breaking a sweat… now, barely 5. I mean, your leg is totally useless… the right, healthy leg can easily do 50 lbs on the extension machine. The left? 5 lbs. This will prove to be the hardest part of the recovery; getting your body back to where it was. Not being able to walk is one thing, but not being able to look in the mirror and not be disgusted is a whole new injury.
Week 9: ow.
PT is amazing. I cannot stress this enough. It is like a religion except there is no singing and you dont have to clap. You literally walk in, and an hour later you can walk like a normal person. Honest to God. The effects wear off, but after ever session they come back and last longer. The regiment is the same:
• walking over cones
• band exercises
• step exercises (remember the 80’s?!)
• picking up marbles with your toes. Yup.
Kind of epic. I sweat. It’s hard work, and it pays off. Mainly the PT tells me that I can walk normal, I just have to choose too. I have to actively try to not limp. Just that simple.
The Trainer in the gym is another story. I was so sore from one session with him that I literally couldn’t sleep. I was in some real pain and I felt that maybe a trainer wasnt the best idea, despite wanting to lose some weight immediately. Lesson learned, and as soon as I got the strength to lift my iPhone I cancelled my sessions with him.
One interesting note here. The PT told me I no longer need the boot, and I don’t. I’m so excited to be free from my prison I can’t begin to tell you. Who knew that socks and shoes could be so erotic! I went to see my doctor, the surgeon that performed the procedure and he goes “where is your boot?” so I told him what the PT said, and he was very unhappy. From the man who nonchalantly told me not to worry about pulling the other Achilles, and seemed to be very rough and tumble about the whole thing like it was no big deal, he was now overly concerned. “You have to wear that boot. I mean you’re at risk, even right now, and you can very easily damage it again.” He started trying to find the prescription he had given me to give the PT because he didn’t believe that it said it was time to get the boot off, but it did. Rather, it said “ween” off the boot. apparently I had gone from crawling to running.
Truth be told I didnt put the boot on. I did my research too… seems like some doctors start PT a few weeks after surgery. Some are more conservative. And while I trust the medical opinion of a doctor, it is an opinion. And I’ll be damned if I go back in that boot.
Week 12: Rocking and rolling.
Glad I didn’t put that boot on. Foot is doing great… lost a little weight, got some energy back, and life is pretty normal all things considered. Traveled to Ireland last week, back to work full time, and feeling on top of the world. In my experience it took 12 weeks exactly to get back on my feet. Literally. Your mileage may vary. I walk now, wear shoes, take subways, even ride the motorcycle. I’m sure the doc would have a fit, but I gotta live. I still have a limp, and the ankle does get tired, but never swollen like it used to. I try to go to PT 2 times a week, and promise you that its the key.
Continuing the series on Denver, we move on to sleeping accommodations, a very important chapter in a stay. It is important to mention that hotels at one point in history were originally places you paid people to not kill or rob you when you sleep. Pretty simple. Sometime not too long ago a guy named Phillipe Starck came along and put glass walls in the bathroom and the boutique hotel was created, where you now paid people to let you into overpriced bars and drink very small bottles of liquor. Oh how things have changed. So it was super refreshing to stay at the Oxford Hotel in LoDo Denver. The Oxford is a beautiful timewarp back to a season where elegance and service were fresh and ready for the picking. While the Oxford is the oldest hotel in Denver, it certainly doesn’t look like it; modern amenities, deluxe bathrooms, and even a free hotel car await you at this refurbished relic. Built in 1891, the hotel was a “city within a city” having a Western Union, Barbershop, Bar, Restaurant, Stable, and even a movie theater. Much of that can be seen in the layout of the building and it is amazing to wander the wide halls, or take in a cold drink at their original bar. The Oxford is sort of a living museum that you can sleep in; the art on the walls are all notable pieces, and many a famous guest, from the Dali Lama to Kid Rock have graced her with their presence. (would have loved to been in that elevator ride… oh the conversation.) One of the things I loved about the hotel was the old-timey key system; I felt like I was in a Wes Anderson film. Another thing I particularly enjoyed was the “day of the week” floor-mats in the elevator. I had to ask the desk about these because my travel partner and I got in a heated debate about exactly when do they change the mats. The desk was quite serious about it saying that one man alone has been changing the mats for the last 40 years. Every night right at midnight he brings both lifts down and locks them, and changes them out. No one knows where the mats came from or when the tradition started, but in a city where pot is now very legal, lemme tell you, it’s not a bad idea to be reminded what day it is. You will see that I forgot to take a picture one day. Case in point.
Finally, a hotel is nothing without rooms, and these were fantastic. Thick, comfortable beds. Modern amenities and wifi. Bathrooms that made you want to film a scene from The Untouchables. De-Lux!
It was a fine home, and a great base of operations for conquering the great city of Denver. Rs