Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Broken bones and Pittsburgh

Wow. Until the last week, I had no idea how difficult it is to regain mobility after wearing a cast for less than three weeks. I've had my cast off for a week now, but my ring finger (which was not even injured) is still very stiff and immobile. I can move it reasonably well, but I still can't do much with it.

I guess when your tendons are completely inactive for a while, they shrink. That's what it feels like, anyway. I don't know because I didn't ask. (I didn't ask because I didn't realize I was facing such a long recovery.)

The only other time I've ever had to wear a cast was when I was ten years old, when a broken beer bottle severed five tendons in my wrist. That time, considering surgeons had to overlap my tendons to stitch them back together, it naturally took quite a while to recover mobility in my hand and fingers. (I think they had to make the tendons overlap, anyway.) Also, I had to wear the cast for much longer that time; two months maybe.

The broken bone has not healed fully yet, but it's not really giving me any trouble; just a little pain here and there. It has taken a lot of work, however, just to get my uninjured ring finger almost back to normal.

About ten days ago, after taking a clumsy step at the top of the stairs, I jammed the little toe on my right foot... really hard. As much as it hurt when I did it, I immediately hoped I'd just bruised or sprained the area around the toe. However, ten days later, I'm 95 percent sure I broke it, too, because it still hurts like hell and it's still causing me to limp when I walk.

Urgh! This is frustrating, especially because my sense of balance was already shaky after carrying my heavy-ass backpack 600 miles in two and a half months. When you carry a heavy backpack around for so long and then stop, you don't just get your balance back in a day or a week. It takes a really long time to get your coordination back. I don't think I have felt normal walking without the backpack since April 2007.

I went to Pittsburgh for the first time in my life yesterday because there is an REI store there. Almost the exact same distance from the REI stores in Detroit and Ann Arbor (the whore), I decided to go to Pittsburgh mostly because the drive from here to The State Up North (MI) is really boring and generally unfun.

One thing I realized on my way there is that a lot of Ohio is actually very pretty. That would be eastern (and southeastern) Ohio. Because I have rarely been in eastern Ohio, most of "my Ohio" could be best described as "Nebraska with some trees." But basically once you get east of Columbus, it starts getting very pretty. Although I've lived in and around Columbus most of my life, I've rarely had much reason to venture very far east of downtown.

Entering Pittsburgh from the south, you don't feel like you're in a big city; you don't even feel like you're close to a big city. There is no visible sprawl of suburbs, and the hills (mini mountains) keep you from seeing downtown from afar. Then you go through a reasonably long tunnel through a hill and BAM! there it is: Downtown Pittsburgh.

So the first time I ever saw downtown Pittsburgh (except from 35,000 feet in the sky) was from about half a mile away. Cool way to see a city for the first time.

Pittsburgh seems to be a very pretty, interesting city. I can't say for sure, though, because I didn't get much opportunity to see it.

A word of caution: If you have never driven in Pittsburgh, DON'T!!! But if you do choose to drive in Pittsburgh for the first time, make sure you study a map of the city inside and out for a few months before you go there. Make sure you know all the roads and all the curves. Zoom in on a satellite map so you can see what it's like up close. And when you finally go there for the first time, plan to arrive at a time when traffic should be lite.

There are tons of twists and turns in Pittsburgh. There are multiple horizontal planes of roadway and traffic in Pittsburgh, which may intersect but not necessarily connect to each other. There are lots of tunnels, each of which go somewhere.

In other words, Pittsburgh is not like any other city I've ever driven in.

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