My foot was not doing so hot. Even the simple errand I had run the previous day had induced a good bit of pain. I decided it would be best to relegate myself to Dave's couch. Just like that I had gone from having the absolute freedom to ride my bike wherever my heart desired to being confined to my friend's couch. Man, this was going to be tough.
I very quickly learned what it meant to be stir crazy. I couldn't help but to feel trapped, not just physically but mentally. I was physically confined to this couch. My ankle was inflamed, growing worse with each step I took. The unknowns floating around my mind tortured me. How long would I be here? Was there something seriously wrong with my ankle? Was this trip going to be a failure? I stewed in these thoughts from my friend's apartment, which felt like it was growing smaller by the second. No matter how many times I checked my cell phone or flipped through the channels, time inched along at its usual pace.
Tuesday and Wednesday were rough. I wanted so badly to be outside, discovering the odds and ends of this metropolis. The only thing I could do was to be patient and reassure myself that I would heal. Lying on this couch was driving me nuts. Luckily, I had plans on Wednesday evening to return to Mundelein for dinner and a movie. Mid-afternoon I got off the couch and hobbled my way to Union Station. Seeing the massive Willis Tower downtown temporarily lifted my spirits.
I took the train from Union Station to Libertyville where I was received by Leslie. She instantly knew that I was in poor spirits. I must have been wearing it on my sleeve. Or maybe Leslie just knows me. Or maybe both. Lucky for me, we had plans to eat Lou Malnati's pizza and watch Blazing Saddles that evening. Both were amazing. I was shocked that it took a week for me to get some deep dish pizza in my system. I was also shocked that it took me 28 years to learn about Mel Brooks. Blazing Saddles was excellent. I would like to share some of my favorite quotes from that movie, but any line taken out of context is bound to severely offend someone. I'll just say that Blazing Saddles was right on, a pioneering satire of race relations in America.
What else did I do in Mundelein? I watched Jurassic World and got a little bit dumber. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
On Friday I returned to Chicago. I had plans to get drinks with some friends that evening in the city, so again I hopped on the train and made the journey back to Boys Town. The great company I enjoyed with the Heirds had definitely brightened my mood.
As night fell on Chicago, so did the rain. It was really coming down. Despite my preference to use public transportation, I ordered an Uber pool to get me to the bar. It turned out to be a great decision, not necessarily for the service, but for the people I met. I hopped into an SUV with two passengers in the back and the driver, a middle-aged Chicagoan.
The couple in the back seemed to be entertaining themselves, so the driver and I got to talking. The conversation bounced around. At one point we were talking about my bike trip, then all of a sudden we were talking about relationships. He told me that his bike, a motorcycle, was his therapy when things got tough in his relationship. He described instances when things would get a little too heated so he would just hop on his bike and take a timeout. I thought that was cool. I responded to his comment by noting that I want really sure what my therapy was in tough situations like that. He gave a puzzled response, "What do you mean? Biking is you're therapy."
I paused. I felt a bit silly that this guy was calling me out after only knowing me for about seven minutes. He was totally right though. I silently reflected on some of the times when I had found solace on top of my saddle. Sometimes I need to be called out in order to become aware of certain things. Although it was pretty damn obvious, during that Uber ride I realized how therapeutic riding had been for me.
The couple in the back eventually chimed in. It turned out the fellow was from Kansas, so I eagerly asked him, "Hey, man, I'm about to ride my bike through Kansas. Do I need to be worried about tornados?"
He kindly held back his laughter, "Nah. Not really man. You should be alright." Sometimes I need to be laughed at to get a grip.
The night went well. We enjoyed James Bond themed cocktails at a neat spot in the Loop (that's Chicago talk for "downtown"). Afterwards we went to Jess' place to watch a movie. I always seem to be that guy who has never seen any of the must-see films or TV series, causing people to shriek in horror. It usually plays out something like this:
Grace: Have you ever seen Ten Things I Hate About You?
Grace: What!?!? Oh my God we're watching it!
Dave: Dude you gotta see Ten Things I Hate About You.
Me: Yeah, I've never seen it.
That's how the conversation usually goes, and how it actually went on Friday night. While reading that little dialogue I hope you were imagining me with a really flat tone. Flat because I have had that exact same conversation so many times that I just don't care anymore. No, I haven't seen Remember the Titans. No, I don't watch Game of Thrones. No, I haven't seen Harry Potter. As a matter of fact, I've never even opened any of the books! People literally get offended when I tell them that I've never read Harry Potter. They look at me like I need to be institutionalized or something. It's really bizarre.
Anyways, we watched Ten Things I Hate About You. What can I say, it was cute. Sort of anticlimactic, but fun nonetheless. I did get reamed out by my friends for sleeping through the "singing scene" which supposedly is the best part. I'll have to look it up on YouTube.
My stir craziness continued throughout the weekend. Saturday night I stayed up until 3 am playing Risk, Sunday night I watched the movie Princess Bride with Dave's cousin Erica, my new friend and avid Instagram follower. What can I say? I was purposeless in Chicago and just doing my best to make the most of the time.
On Monday morning I had a reality check. Spending any more time on Dave's couch was going to be unbearable unless I had some reason to believe that I was going to get better. It was time to go to the doctor. All of these unknowns floating around my mind were picking away at me. I needed to get answers so I limped gown Broadway to my neighborhood's urgent care clinic.
My biggest reservation about going to see the doctor was cost. I didn't exactly account for this event in my initial budget, so feared that it might stretch me thin. Plus, I had catastrophic insurance which only covered the cost of extremely expensive emergency services. Before heading to the doctor I knew that I would be eating the full price tag of this visit.
I was pleased when I arrived at the practice. First off, they had their own imaging equipment so were able to do my x-rays without referring me to an imaging center (and this running up my costs). Second, they had an a la carte menu of prices for self-pay patients that was pretty straight forward. This gave me a sense of what I would be paying before heading to see the doctor.
The visit went just fine. My PA delivered the good news that my x-rays were negative, as far as she could tell there had been no damage to my bones. She gave me the stock prescription for these types of injuries which was four to six weeks of rest, ibuprofen and R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). I was very relieved to hear that. It gave me confidence that I'd be able to leave Chicago by early June. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't want to spend more time in this place, it's just that I had a purpose. The road was calling me. Now that I had a time frame for healing I could begin to plan the next leg of my journey. All of a sudden Dave's couch didn't seem so bad.