Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day Two - San Francisco and Beyond 2012

After some seriously good sleeping, Saturday morning came and we needed to get up and get going early.  Before we even left India, I had made an appointment to see the chiropractor in Orinda (across to the other side of the Bay) at 09:30 A.M. The plan always was to take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train to Orinda, and walk to and from the BART stations (Powell Street SF and Orinda).  Actually, when I woke up in pain, I wasn't even certain I could make it to the Powell Street station, even though it was a short walk... I'll tell you straight-up - this was about as much pain as I could stand...walking, standing in one place, even sitting is some situations was excruciatingly painful, with the pain starting in my right buttock and - at-its-worst - shooting pains down my right leg, causing weakness all the way down to my foot!

Amy Suzanne and I looked at our situation and we decided to take a cab this one time, just to get "the lay of the land" and get a feel for the time and distances involved.  Our friend from Fugazi Travel in San Francisco, Eve Wertsch, had recommended her chiropractor to me...and Amy wanted to see him, too...she suffers on-and-off from upper-back pain radiating from under her left shoulder-blade.  We figured we'd both try to get straightened-out as long as we were investing the long trip, the time and the money.

Our first-choice was simply to take a cab, but the nice man in front of the Hilton who takes care of customer's transportation needs told us that getting a cab back to Downtown might be a bit of a cab driver in his right mind was going to sit and wait for us - it was really crazy-busy, even in the morning on a Saturday...the city was hoppin' and cabs were at a premium.  He suggested that we take a Town Car Service...a guaranteed price, round-trip and the driver would wait for us!

So we did.  The traffic was light and the ride was comfortable. Our driver was from the Sudan and his English was passable... he may have been the worst driver I have ever seen, and coming from somebody who has been in India for over two-years, that's really saying something.  But - he did get us safely to the chiropractor's office on-time, so we were very relieved.

The recommended chiropractor we went to is Dr. Kevin Wong, DC.  A nice young man who had the easiest nature and kindest "bedside manner" of any healer I have ever been to...he wasn't "Doogie Howser" young...he has been practicing chiropractic for 15 years! When I told him of my symptoms (I had been told by and M.D. that my problems stemmed from a spondylolisthesis and pressure on the sciatic nerve caused by the problem at L-4 and L-5.  Immediately, he told me that he was not surprised that a medical doctor told me that.  He said that medical doctors have a tendency to misdiagnose this problem and don't want to tell their patients what is really going on with their bodies because they think we're too stupid to understand what's really going on.  He apologized for his fairly blatant cynicism about the traditional American medical profession...and at once told me, based on how he saw me move and my pattern of pain...that my problem was not the spine at L-4 and L-5 - but my sacroiliac joint (SI) was impinging on the nerve and it had been getting gradually worse for years...

He hooked me up to a machine that I said was a lot like getting low-level tasered - although I had control over how much of a shock I was getting.  Electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS, is the use of electrical impulses to cause muscles to contract. EMS has long been used in physical therapy, and research has shown that it can help strengthen and tone muscles, though only to a certain extent.

In my case, the EMS pulses were to contract and relax the muscles pulling on my SI joint - - followed by a standing chiropractic adjustment and some other witchcraft that I simply trusted wold work.  He said that the most important thing was to get my movements balanced when I walk...and prescribed new orthotics for my shoes.  And of course, taking off about 80-85 pounds would do wonders for my condition (of course!)

Amy Suzanne got her adjustment as well... and seemed much better.  I, on the other hand, was even a little worse than when I came in to see the doctor.  Dr. Wong told me this would be the case...two-steps-forward... one-step-back.

I limped on my walking-stick (a lifesaver, let me tell you!) outside into the beautiful, cool, Northern California Fall day!  Our driver then took us to a CVS pharmacy, a Target Store, where we bought tennis-balls (part of my ongoing therapy would be to lay on my back with a tennis-ball placed directly or next-to my aliling SI joint), some decent wine, some clothes for Amy, some DVD's, a few 12-packs of Diet Coke and some serious San Francisco sour-dough bread (impossible to get in Hyderabad!) - some real American-style cottage cheese...and a cheap Black and Decker toaster-oven! We were set for the day.

We made arrangements for the driver to take us to the Cal Berkeley vs. UCLA game and took a nap!

We then made our way back to the other side of the Bay to Berkeley.  The place was easy enough to find (California Memorial Stadium - newly refurbished) by just following the cars.  Unfortunately, there is no real stadium we were going to have to walk a good distance across the campus at UC Berkeley.  We started out and - I could see right away that this was going to be a most difficult and painful task ahead of us.  I was still in great pain and - about 50-to-100 yards was all I could muster without needing to stop and take a seat to cross my legs and stretch.  

Thanks be to God, right on cue (as if angels from heaven were watching over us!) - a student in a big golf-cart stopped right next to us and asked if we needed a ride to the game!!  You betcha we did!! She took us as far as she could and dropped us off near the la crosse field adjacent to the stadium.  There we walked a bit (I sat a lot) and Amy did some souvenir shopping and bought a sweatshirt.  Honest to God, the kickoff was at 7:00 P.M. and the sun was just beginning to make its lazy way down to the Berkeley horizon - and we were actually COLD for the first time in almost three-years!!  I could see my breath...something that just does not happen in India unless you are up in the Himalayas climbing mountains.

Getting to our seats was not a matter of fact, it was quite a climb up several steep flights of concrete stadium stars. I wouldn't say the seats we bought were in "nosebleed" section...but it was pretty high up and definitely more of a hike than I had bargained for...Thank God for my lovingly stout wife who kept me vertical and moving.... we finally got to our seats and got - "comfortable" as one could get, considering the circumstances.  

The University of California (i.e., your tax dollars at work!) had just spent $321-million to refurbish Cal Memorial Stadium...they kept the outside facade and it actually looked quite marvelous. There was, however, one minor problem.  Like the Rose Bowl where UCLA plays their home games, there are no backs on 90% of the seats in the stadium.  What you get are long "benches". Also, I think the engineers who designed the seating figured the only people that would be attending football games there would be 5'3" Asian engineering students who weigh about 115-pounds soaking wet.  Talk about uncomfortable.  You get more than three normal-sized human beings sitting butt-cheek-to-butt-cheek on this glorified metal bench - and you've got some serious overlap!!  The UCLA faction was loud and off to our left in the end-zone....but where we were was definitely the Cal Student's section...louder than the UCLA faithful...and 100% more obnoxious!!

The game started and the stadium got filled-up to completely claustrophobic proportions.  I had made surprise arrangements for Amy Suzanne to see one of her horse-show friends from Los Angeles who was also at the game....our friend Patti Manze, who has a daughter on the equestrian team at Berkeley.  I thought we were going to have to airlift Amy out of her seat so she could go visit briefly with Patti  - she had to literally crawl over the legs of all these Cal fans (one of whom was her very-close seat mate who looked and sounded like a foul-mouthed Adam Sandler....who was emitting even more foul beer-and-nacho farts the entire time we were sitting....

UCLA came out flat and Cal looked really good and on top of their turned out that this game was Homecoming for UC Berkeley....the crowd was loud! UCLA made bad mistakes and took some silly penalties....ending up down at the halftime break 16-7.

Which was about all of the live college football we cared to see for one day! Or a lifetime.  You see, we realized that we love sports.  All sports.  Especially from seats in luxury-boxes at Staple's Center and the Rose Bowl.  Or even better - in front of a large-screen HD TV at home!!

We had made arrangements with one of the nice students who worked the homecoming game to get a golf-cart ride back to the Mexican restaurant where we had pre-arranged to meet our driver with the Town Car.  Since the area around the campus was completely deserted (after all, the game was only half-over!) - we got right into the restaurant and sat down for a snack and a couple of stiff drinks.  Actually, I had a couple of Bohemia cervezas which really hit the spot!

Our driver got us back to the hotel in San Francisco before the game was actually over.  Cal literally destroyed the Bruins by a final score of 43-17.  So glad we didn't stay to see the end of the disaster!

Here is our Facebook Photo Album from our first full-day in San Francisco: 

1 comment:

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