10 days in the Bay

After 30 months living in Australia, I’m definitely losing my American reflexes.  I look the wrong way for cars, I have to concentrate to walk on the right side of the road, and a friend of mine laughed at me when I said “Cheers, mate” to a bus driver.

The past week I was in San Francisco, which is a great city to help me appreciate why I love Australia so much.   At the same time, there are things about the Bay Area we just don’t have in Sydney, either:

El Diablo

El Diablo Summit Knighten Ryan Alex Mickey BryanOne thing we don’t have in Sydney is El Diablo.   My goal on Sunday was just to ride.  I’d been fighting a sinus infection since the day I landed, and my 2-a-day workout plans had vanished as I hacked up all the colors of the rainbow throughout the week. The ride was supposed to be low key, minimal exertion, just getting in a spin to keep me from going crazy after 7 days without a workout (two runs under 10K did not count). By Sunday I was feeling much better, and Knighten picked me up and we met Alex, Ryan, and Mickey.   I became suspicious of the name “El Diablo”.  My suspicions rose along with the altitude, as we climbed higher and higher and the grade steepened.  90 minutes of climbing later, we hit the summit at 1173 meters;  the last 100 meters the steepest of the morning.

I’m terrible at descents and once again I proved it, crawling down the mountain’s curved roads. All in all, I felt great and despite the blazing sun maintained my “blind cave fish” tan.

Are you talking to me?

I needed a few key items of clothing, including a new suit – perhaps the most terrifying of all purchases, because I abhor shopping so I want to to be as fast as possible.  Because my job and 99% of my life doesn’t require me to wear a suit, it means I only need 1 good one, and so getting a good one is one shot deal.  Now, In Australia, customer service is often hard to find in clothing stores; in the US you get swarmed the moment you walk in.   Tally: 2 pairs of jeans at Levis: 10 minutes.  Suit, shirt, tie at Nordstroms: 30 minutes.  DONE.   Cutomer service: amazing.

Me gusta los burritos

Los Picudos

I averaged a burrito a day (okay a bit more) during the visit.   A couple of guys who had lived in Australia correctly commented “There are a lot more mexican food places in Sydney now, but there are not many (any?) good ones.”  Es la verdad.   Staying in the Mission in SF let me eat street tacos, an entire coop worth of chicken burritos, horchata, and even a strange fruit salad with chile and lemon (not to be tried a second time, lo siento).

I think this is what doctors are supposed to do

I’ve had good docs in Australia, and my current nephrologist is excellent.   On Thursday, when I was originally supposed to be spending time with close friends to celebrate the 4th, I went to a practice that a friend had recommended.  It was the best doctor’s appointment I’ve ever had.

Dr. Mark Berenson was thorough, interesting, smart – and he actually spent the time to discuss not just medications, but the right diet and activity to get well faster and the likely cause of my sinus blockage – and then we spent another 10 minutes talking about anti-inflammatory options for transplant recipients. Amazing. At the end he asked me point blank, “Are you sure you want to take antibiotics?” – and we talked about my history, immune system, and actually worked through the problem. I followed up with him via email on one question we were discussing, and he replied just a couple of hours later.

Mark’s group, Care Practice, doesn’t take insurance, and there’s no way they could provide the care I received at medicare or private insurance prices.

Manly beckons

Despite the week and the special things that only the Bay can offer, I am excited about being back home.  The waves are cold right now, but they are beautiful.

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