Friday, August 20, 2010

Ok, so I don’t really believe in this...

Much to do here. Much to do. Too much work really. I don’t know that it is actually so hard to clean up a place with one leg but it is certainly a harder job than I want to do. I’ve been here about a week already- I guess tomorrow is Friday which would make it a week that I have been here and most all of the work that has been done has been done by friends who have come by and helped me. Left to my own devises, though this is what I wanted (Independence!), I can’t seem to get motivated and I always seem to find something better to do than to simply clean the place up. And I do need to do this.

Obviously I am kidding myself. This is not to say that I have become incompetent but it is also obvious that I have fallen into some kind of a funk. I am hard pressed to say depression. I don’t want to say depression. I don’t want to start thinking about words such as depression because… well… yet another “obviously”, that is probably what this thing is called. I just would rather think of it by a different word, something more handleable and less clinical. But what I really need to do is to steel my resolve and stop looking for excuses and start doing what needs to be done. And if this thing that needs to be done required an apparatus, and it does, then I should just use the apparatus and be ok with it and stop worrying about the technicalities of it. I am talking here about my prosthesis which is giving me problems.

It is an irony for me actually, as a life long bicyclist, that the more you ride and get into bikes, out of necessity, you tend to get more and more into fixing them and eventually, you start spending much less time riding and more and more time wrenching. The ideal of the bicycle stops being a functional transportation prosthetic, something you add to your body to aid transportation and mobility and becomes a work of art- something to be cleaned and oiled and admired for its static beauty and eventually, given for someone else to ride. I don't really think this is laziness but the days when I would just jump on a bike for fun just to see where I could go seems to have been a part of a younger man's life and a younger man's health. Certainly, I don't seem to have the legs to do this anymore, so to speak, only the memories of having done it earlier.

And this brings me back to dealing with this prosthesis where that right leg of mine used to be. The new foot is giving me problems and therefore has led me to do a lot of thinking about how to avoid being up on it. Now, the guy who put the prosthetic together was a guy named Vinnie from a prosthetics place in Brooklyn. Now, I am not blaming Vinnie at all for this because any difficulties are more from how much time we had to play with it and how much time I gave myself to be in New York. This decision, the decision to bail out of Brooklyn as fast as humanly possible, was predicated on exactly how unlivable my New York situation was. It would have been nice to have had a little more time to play with this and under more normal circumstances I would have, but I didn't have anything even resembling normal circumstances to play with. But getting back to the point, somewhere in the translation my specific needs, which at one time in another place were being discussed respectfully, stopped being discussed and I guess the reality of my life was a little too unexplainable or incomprehensible for the folks in Brooklyn. And really, I was not talking about very much or specifically about the economics or politics of living in the Republic of Belarus, I was more talking about the reality of not being a car driver or a bus taker- and maybe even a non-walker and I use my bike to go where I want to go- Short trips, long trips- I have a lock and basically I am used to simply throwing my leg over the bike and pedaling wherever I need to go, doing whatever I need to do and getting whatever I need to get and then pedaling back home.

And this is what is difficult for me right now because the prosthetic I have isn’t doing its job. The foot I got is nice and soft and there's a lot of give to it but it is not perfect for me because it does not allow for comfortable walking and riding at the same time. Specifically, in order to walk comfortably there needs to be a certain amount of splay (the toe must point out somewhat) but if the toe points out, you tend to kick the chain and frame of the bike while pedaling (The toe must be straight). The problem therefore is that it is a process to change the angle each time and the part which needs to be adjusted is too fragile for constant changing. I also am starting to notice several options which would have been better. There is for instance something called a torsion absorber, an extension to the ankle which allows for a little more twist and flexibility in the foot then I have now. This would have been very, very nice because the roads in Pinsk seem to have been designed by the Luftwaffe and walking around on constantly changing micro terrains, going from uneven or broken concrete to dirt and gravel and avoiding (or trying to avoid) holes, ruts and waves in the paving, is not very nice. And really, for the life of me, I don't know that there is a staircase in this town that was built with the same sized risers. I don't know how they managed to do that or if there was a law that or some union decision that disallowed evenly sized risers on staircases. Really, it is an adventure and all of this stuff when you have to have a stiff leg to walk on is problematic. I have been told by a subsequent prosthetics guy, A guy in Florida who I spoke to when I broke the bolt on the alignment collar, that the torsion absorber would also help keep the leg from drifting out of position as I walk, the specific problem which is causing me the most discomfort.

So yesterday I got to talk to Vinnie via skype, something I am only allowed to do at the internet club, and we are going to try and work out the problems. Not having internet access at the office is also kind of a funny thing but the new apartment that I rented came without a telephone or a toilet, two facts I only found out about on the day I walked in. I guess there hadn't been enough money or motivation to fix the toilet up until the point I got here. And I know that they had another renter for a while so I wonder how they managed it. I actually figured out a method though because the water from the city worked ok so you could still use the toilet, you just had to turn on the water and aim the hose straight down into the bowl to clean and fill up. Having the tank would have been better but it worked. But not having a telephone is a pain because without one, I cannot connect to the internet which would be much better than having to walk over to the internet club via Pinsk's adorable roads and sidewalks and wait in line (and give my passport) to use one of their slow computers- not all of which have the speed or capacity to use skype by the way. Anyway, having to walk over there is something I would rather avoid because the leg is giving me problems and walking over is uncomfortable and the pain and not being able to do simple things is, of course what is making me, uh, a little depressed. Or, another word if that one is a little too clinical.

I've lost my train of thought... I hate when that happens.

But generally, I simply need to clean up. So I better get right one that.

More soon...