ó 7:22 a.m.
It is times like these, times of adversity, pain, and - hell inconvenience - that force one do some assessment and appreciate the freedoms that we sometimes take for granted. As I sit here, I have a mending broken shoulder from a spill I took on a Saturday morning in December at my apartment in Spokane, Washington. The outside of the ball, (or greater tuberosity), broke off, and when the rest of the bone dislocated, it broke of the bottom 30% or so off of my socket.
The socket reconstruction required surgery, as one might imagine, and I had this surgery done right before Christmas, to the tune of about $2700. That was just over a month ago, and Iím still nowhere near healed. I canít even start physical therapy until next week, which is going to suck like cold brussel sprouts, but I can't wait.
Why Iím looking forward to this torture is not because of some sadistic desire to feel the pain. I know that the pain is going to be considerable, but seeing my muscles atrophy to the point that they have is a little disconcerting. The muscles of my upper arm, shoulder, lats, etc., justÖleft. Itís actually a little comical to see the extent of the imbalance. It's like a cartoon body only half-drawn. The old clichť ďif you donít use it, you lose itĒ is particularly relevant about now. The physical therapy will allow me to slowly rebuild the muscles, as well as get my movement back and by degrees un-cripple myself.
As it is, I canít really move my shoulder under its own power, and rotation of the joint still causes me acute little jabs of pain intense and sharp enough to make me stop that motion reflexively. Of course, sometimes the reflex is jerky enough to make it hurt in another spot or intensify the pain, but it usually subsides quickly.
I have a sling which I tote my arm around in most of the time since Ė like any broken bone Ė I need to keep it as immobile as possible so the bone parts could reattach themselves. Starting next week I should only have to wear the sling while Iím sleeping. As it is now, Iím just able to sleep on my side again without waking up from the pain. No, not the broken side, silly. Up until now Iíve only been able to sleep on my back, and thatís not my favorite position at all.
Before the break, I was on assignment in Washington, and when Iím on the road for any length of time, I bring my guitar with me. When Iím home itís generally the drums. Both of these were impossible to play, obviously, but Iím working on them both bit by bit. For the drums, I just need to keep my left hand on the snare. As long as I donít reach out to the other drums itís not too uncomfortable. Up and down motion at the elbow joint isnít too bad. As far as the guitar goesÖwell, I canít rotate out my hand too far from my body, so the absolute limit is a song with a capo at the third fret. The fourth is much more comfortable though. I can usually get through about 3-4 minutes, but thatís it. And the F bar chord is still a painful (and pathetic) attempt at making pleasing tones.
I have a lot of time on my hands too, since I canít work with this injury. Fortunately I have lots of books, movies and World of Warcraft to occupy my time. Although much of what I do at work is writing, I still have a considerable amount of field work to do as well, and the fact is I cannot do my job one-handed. Fortunately I have a temporary disability benefit for 3 months. Itís only 60% of my normal salary, but itís better than a poke in the eye. So, the first week of March is when it runs out, but thatís still 5 weeks away and Iíll be ready to return to work by then. Iím going to need every minute of the disability benefit, but I (hopefully) wonít need any more than that. Itíll likely be light duty at first, but I should make a full recovery.
Although I have no evidence to support it, I think Iíll have a weather forecasting joint, like so many arthritis sufferers do. So when Iím sitting in my rocking chair on the wooden porch of my home in the swamp, Iíll be able to pull out my pipe, point at you with the stem of it, and say: ďThereís a storm a-cominí. You mark my words. Itís gonna be a bigíun.Ē