Friday, March 9, 2012

Cripiltude and Cosmic Rays

The tale of this particular affliction dates far back into an era we called "The Nineties"
No, wait, this started even earlier as the eventual crippling of my toes and foot was actually the result of a totally different injury. I was on the surgeon's table in England as he sharpened his knives to cut tendons off but then he decided it was better to wait. The actual injury is hard to pin down but it involved breaking the heel bone off at the Achilles tendon in the other foot so that the bone rattled around under my skin like a fishing line baiting demon trout. That started a chain reaction that debilitated me in  number of ways as I spent three years on a series of makeshift crutches. That's three years of quietly plotting my adventures, dreaming of when I could walk again. I once limped into the bottom of Death Valley, 97 degrees at 11PM, coyotes and snakes scurried on the perimeter of my campfire and I stayed awake to fend them off by attaching a survival knife to the tip of my walking stick. "Come on, motherfuckers," I yelled like Scarface. It was better than the surgeon's table.
Blah blah blah, bicycle trip to Alaska, blah blah blah, agonizing 6 months digging concrete dust from the bottom of a offshore supply vessel cement tank off the coast of Texas blah blah blah 150,000 white pine trees planted in the strip-mined Kentucky coal country. Santa Cruz was actually the nail in the coffin as I remember limping to the Food Not Bombs kitchens with a bag of day old bread as my donation, eschewing every form of motor vehicle, dragging my juggling pins and plywood guitar along, protesting to return the land to the Ohlone Indians whose clam bakes and deer blankets were preferable to heroin needles in polluted storm drains by the roller coaster, fixing my bicycle in the pouring rain using found objects from the railroad track scrapyard. But the whole time my toes were splaying out like the webbed feet of a duck billed platypus. Permanent damage to tendons and bones. blah blah blah. Abusive girlfriend turns into crack whore...blah blah blah. Boo hoo Oggy.

But the latest chapter was the lobster processing gig that tore the walls of my abdomen, took ten years of cartilage from my wrists and wore a hole into my toe until it was a bloody pulp.

So, I thought this was going to be the end of the toe and I'd have to amputate it with my Leatherman like Aron Ralston did to his arm in the movie "127 hours."
But then I found this toe straightener device in the geriatric section of the goodwill and decided to give it a shot. It's merely three elastic bands that fit around the arthritic toes and pull the down and when you wear shoes the toes don't rub against the leather and tear the skin off.
It doesn't take the years off my once chestnut colored hair or take the meatloaf crumbs from my chest fur but it does provide a little relief and at this end game portion of my heart diseased life when diabetes is sweeping the country like the boll weevil and Asian long horned beetle, I need anything I can get.

On other fronts it's hard to be pessimistic when you see kids practicing baseball in hooded sweatshirts, healthy and looking forward to the new season. I got my Bob Wills songbooks to learn my western swing set. There's a dance club in Europe that uses the kinetic energy of the dance floor to squeeze particles that generates current that then powers the air conditioning machine. And I saw on PBS that rocket scientists have invented a jet powerful enough to reach Mars in 4 months...because Man is not content to look down at his arthritic toes. As one astronaut said of deadly cosmic rays, "There are inherent dangers with space travel. All you can do is minimize them and move forward." We'll get to Mars and beyond. Me and my crippled toes probably won't make the trip but the ravaged planet earth won't be Man's final grave.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.