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placeholder September 24, 2007

Posted by doug in important developments, schmerz.
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i’m back, after spending five days at berlin’s lovely unfallkrankenhaus. i underwent an invasive surgery and blew a lot of money, but gained an umlaut.

i’m not supposed to be walk for the next five weeks, even though i expect a number of visitors and may still be going to munich. there’s only one thing that can stand in way of these plans, and that is a gross swollen foot. (warning: contains unpleasantries)

also, while at the hospital i watched a bunch of dvds, including the parts one and two of the godfather trilogy. it ate up a good portion of idle time, but unfortunately, the collection dov lent me didn’t include the third and final chapter. and without that closure i’m stuck in an uncomfortable limbo, unsure whether or not crime pays. now that i think about it, a little time spent in an organized crime dynasty would really help defray these medical bills.

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mein bein ist kaputt September 16, 2007

Posted by doug in important developments, schmerz.
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to briefly recap, last week dov, jakub, nic and i embarked on an aimless journey to parts east spent almost exclusively in the czech republic. by the 3rd day, we’d made a comfortable residency in the town of olomouc. after exploring the industrial skyline of ostrava (jakub’s birthplace), we returned and had some drinks and light conversation at a hostel before leaving to eat. on the way to said meal, tragedy struck.

 

i could blame the shoddy 18th-century ecclesiastical architecture, or the wholly unsupportive martial arts sneakers i chose to wear, but regardless, a combination of the two along with general horsing-around resulted in my left foot forcefully changing its position from noon to about 9 o’clock, snapping a number of necessary bones and tearing some tendons and ligaments to boot. after a comically extended wait spent prostrate on old moravian cobblestones while viscerally describing the sensation in my mangled appendage, an ambulance arrived. of course the emergency workers only spoke czech, which forced jakub to act as an intermediary. they seemed more interested in my passport, address and future payment methods than my physical state, but after a prolonged discussion, i was on my way to the local hospital.

my visit began with what seemed like hours spent on a stretcher in a small, dimly-lit room. finally, after screaming (literally) for any signs of life, a few low-level employees filed in. without saying a word, they surveyed my foot with heavy hands and then, with a pair of them bracing my upper leg, snapped the foot straight, grinding the bones in such a way that still makes me shudder.

that was the first sign that this might not be the best medical care available. the second was when jakub had to slip an employee 200 czech crowns (about 8 euros) in order to have him to take x-rays. the third was when they explained how i’d need immediate reconstructive surgery (involving screws, metal shanks and other things generally not found in the human body), but since they had a handful of other surgeries already planned, i’d need to wait at least until the following afternoon.

later, they moved me to another room for an evening of anxious repose. along the way i decided that berlin might provide better service than i was currently receiving. but it wasn’t an easy decision. for one thing, there is a good 8-hour drive from olomouc to the german capital. also, we were traveling in a tiny rental car. it was already tight (especially the night in prague when we slept in it), and it would be challenging to add into the equation a broken limb in constant need of elevation. despite the difficulties, i decided to go. i was able to convey to a nurse that i’d like to go to berlin. she acknowledged my request, but said there was nothing she could do until the morning. with my cell phone effectively dead and no one who i could converse with, all i could do was close my eyes in a futile attempt at a few hours rest before the next day’s travails.

at around 8 the following morning, i was awake to greet a team of hospital employees who wanted to know if i was going to stay. i answered in the negative. i proceeded to explain my decision, when he stopped me. he didn’t care if i stayed or went, but wouldn’t offer further treatment if i was leaving. his wanton dickishness reinforced my decision to leave. he said they would need to cast my leg before hitting the road, but apparently i’d fallen to the bottom of the priority list. jakub and dov arrived in due time, but i wasn’t casted back in the car until close to noon. the rest of the day was spent in the backseat with my leg encased in plaster and resting on the adjacent person’s lap.

i arrived to berlin around 10 that evening and received rapid service that starkly contrasted that of their neighbors to the east. the end result: my leg was too swollen to operate, and after they lined up the bones and recasted my leg, i’d need to wait until tuesday for surgery.

so, here i am, biding my time until tuesday, taking regiments of pills and administering an anti-clotting shot into my stomach each day. my deep thanks and appreciation go out to all those who have sent their good wishes, visited me, drove me to or from the hospital, brought me food/beer/chocolate or rode in a cramped car encumbered with my weighty leg. i will think of you while i drift to sleep as an organism composed of flesh-and-bone, only to wake with what i hope will approximate a robotic leg, eventually capable of such superhuman feats as walking and standing in place.

and finally, the last known photograph featuring my fully functional left leg:

 

czech

we had some good times together, didn’t we?

funeral for a freund September 6, 2007

Posted by doug in important developments.
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last week, a bird flew into jochen’s room. (jochen is my roommate.) i found it more annoying than anything else, as i generally don’t hold birds in particularly high esteem and have grown to detest the domineering sparrows who consistently scrounge for crumbs off my plate at schleusenkrug. but this was an entirely different kind of bird. a parrot. complete with human-like squawks and technicolor dreamcoat.

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his arrival was puzzling. though i haven’t lived in berlin very long, i’m fairly certain that parrots are not native to northern germany. with that in mind, we surmised that it must be someone’s fugitive housepet, perhaps a neighbor’s. our initial plan was to hold on to it while attempting to contact it’s owner. surely canvassing the block with parrot flyers would help locate the bird’s keeper. but this presented the issue of capturing the bird and detaining it, pursuits of which i was wholly uninterested. next, we figured we should just let it fly away and hopefully return home. but after opening the window and coaxing him to the balcony, he decided to stay, opting to fly laps from one side of the room to the other, letting out piercing squeals that helped wear its welcome. we named our new flatmate mr. p. (i don’t know how to ascertain the sex of a bird, but something about his cocksure mannerisms and fatally voracious appetite pointed to male.) later, jochen tried to feed him some muesli and water, but to his chagrin, mr. p instead chose to munch on some chemical fertilizer from an overgrown houseplant.

the next morning, i awoke to sad sight of mr. p’s writhing death throes on jochen’s floor. within minutes he was dead, the victim of an adventurous spirit and unwise food choices. it was disheartening to see the colorfull ball laying supine on the hardwood floor, and i carried a little extra psychological weight with me throughout the day. when i returned from work, i learned that a ceremony had been planned for mr. p. a viking’s funeral. jochen, denise, katherine and myself, changed into our finest clothes, mine being a tie and borrowed jacket worn by jochen’s father on his wedding day. we took our fallen friend with some supplies and proceeded around the block to the bank of the spree. there, we toasted with red wine and said kind words about our late visitor.

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then, we proceeded to douse mr. p’s makeshift coffin/raft with every flammable solvent we could find in our flat. i set the box on fire and jochen dropped it safely onto the water as it burst into a considerable blaze. a combination of friendly currents and divine intervention carried the flaming raft out towards the oberbaumbrücke. it burned for longer than any of us expected, continually pausing and then flaring up again as it crept further away.

as the bundle of fire languidly approached towards the bridge, i couldn’t help feeling some sort of catharsis. was i really emotionally invested over the inconsequential passing of a bird i didn’t much care for in the first place? maybe i was a little stressed or overly tired. or maybe it was just a combination of an early autumn chill while the glittering flame danced across the water. the macabre nature of the event notwithstanding, sometimes a pretty thing can just be a pretty thing.

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