Monday, March 24, 2014

Tai chi, surgery and Street Vibrations

Timeframe 2000
During this, my first year in the Bay Area, not only did I buy my Harley and do some road trips on it, but I had also started a tai chi class.  I found a wonderful class for Quang Ping tai chi, which is Yang style (more of a fighting style), taught by David Pounds in Willow Glen park.  It was really nice going to the park every Saturday for instruction outside in the fresh air.  My first week, he taught me the warm up stretches, and the first move of the "set".  The tai chi set consists of 64 moves and each week I would get one new move to practice during the week.  The set would take about a year to learn and another year or longer to fully refine it.  Once a student learns the set to the teacher's satisfaction, they are ready for Kung Fu training.  I loved watching other students there that were practicing Kung Fu, Tai Chi sword, Tai Chi staff, etc., because it gave me previews into what I would hopefully be learning some time in the future.  Every day I practiced so that the next Saturday David would see the improvement and show me the next move.  Sometimes he would show me things that looked impossible and I just KNEW I wouldn't be able to do it.  He would break it down for me and within a few minutes, I was doing it, and it was very exciting and fulfilling for me.  My tai chi practice always happened daily amongst everything else I did.

I had also found a dive shop to dive with, and they had a club... called Santa Clara Dive Club or something like that.  I joined the club and we would go diving in Monterey on the weekends.  It was a fun group of people, and since we had to get down to Monterey early, I would do my tai chi practice there on the beach once I got there.  It was such a wonderful place and way to do tai chi.

By this time, I had also modified the Sportster a bit.  I had put on mini ape hanger handlebars so it was more comfortable for me to ride instead of the more forward sport position.

Some time during the Summer of 2000, I noticed my right foot looked and felt like it had a splinter.  A number of times, I took a pin and tweezers, and did my best to get the splinter out, but after a few times with no success, I finally went to the doctor.  He took a look and told me it was a Plantar's wart.  He suggested I just get the Plantar's Wart pads from Compound W and see if they work.  He did warn me that often the don't work, since the skin on the foot is so tough, so I had an appointment to go back in a month to check progress.  It was not good... in that one month, I had sprouted 5 new Plantar's Warts, so the doctor suggested I have surgery to remove them.  We scheduled the surgery and a week or so later I was back in his office.

He had me lay on the examination table face down and nurse put her arms over my legs and put all her weight on me so that, as the doctor injected the nerves near the Plantar's Warts with anesthesia, I wouldn't kick him or make any sudden moves.  As the needle went in and hit the nerve each time I felt the pain, but I would not react.  I just kept breathing very deeply, relaxed, let my body go limp, and let my mind go blank.  After the 2nd or 3rd shot, the nurse removed her hands and the doctor panicked a little bit asking what she was doing.  She explained that she could tell I was meditating or something, because I wasn't moving... there was no reason for her to hold my legs down.  The doctor finished the last shots of anesthesia without the nurse holding me down and I didn't flinch.  He then went on to cut the warts out, making sure he got the roots, then he cauterized the skin so that I wouldn't bleed.  When he finished all 6, he wrapped it up in bandages, gave me a prescription for Vicadin, which I filled on the way home, and I went home to put my foot up and wait for the anesthesia to wear off and the pain to come.  After an hour or so, I didn't feel any pain, but I took a Vicadin anyway, just in case.  That just put me to sleep, so if there was any pain to be felt, I didn't know it.  My foot never did feel any pain in the days after the surgery, which I was quite happy about.

The main instructions for the next couple weeks were to keep my foot dry and soak it a couple times each day... I think in Epsom Salts.  So, when I was at the dive shop helping with classes, I used my dry suit instead of a wet suit.  And, when I had to ride the Sportster up to Corte Madera for scheduled service, I packed a "tub" and salts in my tail bag so I could soak my foot while waiting for my bike to be done.  While I was at the dealership, I soaked my foot at the tables they had out front.  Part way through my soak, a couple guys on Harleys pulled in and went in the dealership.  As they walked by me, the first one stopped and introduced himself as Mike.  We talked for a minute, then when the second one came up, Mike introduced him as his brother John.  John and I talked for a while, then he went in for minute, then came back out to talk to me.  He told me Sean Penn was inside and they were both looking at patches and stickers.  He had said to Sean, "Hey Sean, what do you think of this one?"  And Sean gave him his opinion and they continued comparing notes on patches and stickers.  After a few minutes a short guy with dirty blonde hair walked out and as he walked by us, he told John to take it easy.  Sure enough, it was Sean Penn!!  He got on his Sportster and took off... I never realized how short he was!!  LOL!

John was a good looking Italian guy, with that very direct and sincere way of communicating that most Italians seem to have.  He mentioned to me that he, his brother Mike, their cousins and friends, were all going to Street Vibrations in a couple weeks and I should go with them.  I told him thanks for the invite, I would think about it.  We exchanged numbers and met up a couple times in the next couple weeks, and he and the friends I met seemed to be okay, so I decided to go with them.  The only thing was that they had all planned this and they were taking Friday off from work and going as a group.  I didn't have enough time to plan it and give notice at work, so I couldn't take Friday off.  I just packed up the bike, rode to work and left immediately after work.  I don't even remember how I got there.  I think I just memorized what freeways to take so that I didn't have to stop and look at a map all the time.

On the way, it got dark pretty quick, and it also got very cold going over the mountain passes.  I ran into alot of rain, and ended up stopping at a gas station where there were alot of other bikers on their way to Street Vibrations.  I hung out there for about a half hour and when it didn't seem like it was going to stop any time soon, I decided to leave and just get to Reno sooner than later, wet or not.  I don't remember what hotel they were staying at, but I do remember pulling into the parking garage, looking for a parking spot and being amazed at how every spot had at least two motorcycles in it.  There were no cars in the whole garage.  I was really in awe at how many bikes were there.  Once I got parked and was off the bike, I called John's cell phone using my cell, and he told me where he and his group were and I went to find them.

Mike, cousin Jeff, Jeff's wife, and a friend

Me with my bike and John's in front when I arrived.
John with bikes

  I don't really remember too much about any events that weekend, but I DO remember one of the days we did a poker run, which was a run to some of the brothels around town.  We stopped, talked to some of the girls, then headed out to the next one, until we were done.  It was really interesting talking to the girls.  They were so matter of fact about everything.  There was also some sort of parade in a small town that we visited... maybe this was old Carson City or something like that?

The other thing I remember about the weekend was on the way home.  We all left on Sunday bundled up under our leathers because it was early and chilly.  As we went over the pass, we were all VERY cold, and once we got over the pass and it started warming up, we stopped to warm up some out of the wind from riding... and we left our engines running so we could use the heat of the engines to warm up to. 
John warming his hands on my bike's engine.
Mike showing us how cold he is.

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