Posted by: tlnemethy | September 1, 2012

Naknek: The Aftermath

I’ve officially been out of Naknek, and Alaska in particular, for a month give or take. I spent a good 24 hours of journeying, plant to home, and it took a toll. My feet would not fit into my boots after two days of rest and non-working so I loaned them to my roommate for the remainder of her work at the plant. Her feet consequentially had swollen as well and my boots were just right for her little sausage toes. I wore a pair of hideous flip-flops and through all the pressure changes of elevations and flights and airport time, my feet were the worst they ever looked when I limped my ass to my dad and his awaiting truck. It was a horribly humid day for me to return to after months of Alaska weather. In fact, I make it a point to wear my bulkiest clothing items on journeys Imageso I don’t have to carry them, which was a very bad idea for this trip.

I showed up in my warmest gear, the only gear that I didn’t throw away because of the burnt in smell of salmon. What I couldn’t part with I wrapped in a plastic bag and hoped wouldn’t leach out into the rest of my clothes or disturb fellow passengers. My Michigan Tech sweatshirt was one that I kept, even though the professional laundering service left chunks of salmon on the hood. It’d just seen too much to be thrown away willy nilly.

I’ve since attended physical therapy to regain feeling in my toes. There’s nothing quite so fun as sitting in a public place with your feet in a bowl of rice trying to pick up the tiny grains, or placing rocks into a cup only by using your toes. Before Alaska, I would have won competitions for toe dexterity and manipulation, generally choosing to pick up scattered clothes on my floor only by their accord while my hands were free to do anything else. Trust me, my toes were pretty gifted. It was appalling to struggle with something so basic. The doctor also prescribed I wear compression socks that made me feel like I was 90 years old and decrepit, as well as electroshock therapy. Very awkward sending volts of electricity arching across both of my feet.

Surprising doctors is now something I like to do. My regular doctor was very confused when he got a message stating I was coming in with possible frostbite. New England hadn’t seen any temps lower than 85 and I was “possibly frostbitten.” Priceless faces are worth such things. My physical therapist also had a great reaction when he turned on the electricity through my feet. He’s cranking up the juice and is like “you should feel the volts here. Let me know when it gets too uncomfortable.”  My shrugging expression (yes an expression can shrug without the shoulders being involved) startled him. “You can’t feel that?”

“Ha. No way man. Keep sending the juice.” I threw my thumbs up in the air, gesturing until  I could feel the tingle in my toes. I let it flow until it actually started to make my toes move in reaction and told him it was good. His eyes were pretty bugged out and he left me to go discuss with a fellow therapist. I watched the conversation like a creeper, alternating between that and watching my toes try to escape from the current in my foot. I’m sure a few of the patients working out near me thought I had mental instability issues because I just kept laughing at my twitching toes.

All’s well that ends well though. I now have replaced the numbness in my toes with a completely functioning super sensitivity that is even more annoying. Alaska left me with some great friends, some great experiences, and some stories I’m going to be sharing for the rest of my life. Cross Alaska off the list. Where am I heading next? Move over Mike Rowe, I want some of those dirty jobs for myself.

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