Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shouldering the Blame

I've shared this story before, but I'm sharing it again after sustaining a possible repeat yesterday.

Several years ago, when my daughter was still just a little one, I walked into our kitchen in my bare feet.  I don't usually go barefooted in the house, preferring to wear socks since my feet always seem to be cold, but I wasn't wearing them that day.  About three steps in, my foot hit a damp spot on the floor, and my leg slipped forward, sending my whole body into the air.  I'm pretty sure my feet went higher than my head.  I landed with my full weight on my left shoulder, impacting the floor with a loud thud.  The floor knocked the wind out of me, and as I assessed the damage, I realized I couldn't breath.  Pain washed over me and I tried to let out a yell, but nothing came out but a grunt.  I was hurt pretty bad.

Melody, my daughter, was in the other room talking on the phone with my parents.  I tried to get her attention by making noises, and after a couple of minutes, she heard me.  She came rushing in and saw me on the floor, and I'm sure she was confused as to what was happening.  My voice was coming back to me, and I was able to explain to her that I had slipped on the floor, and was hurt.  She relayed the message to my parents, and then gave me the phone.  I told them that I was pretty sure I had broken something, and I couldn't move.  They asked whether they should call an ambulance, but I didn't want to do that.  I didn't think I was that bad off.  After about 10 minutes, I tried to get up.  After some struggle, I was able to get on my feet.  I couldn't move my left arm, and it was throbbing.  I also figured out how and why I slipped in the first place:  Faithful Pup Scout, our 9-pound Maltese dog.

Scout, being a typical rambunctious but stubborn little dog with a "princess" complex, occasionally won't tell us when she needs to go outside to take care of business, and will instead find a spot, usually on the kitchen floor, to relieve herself.  Apparently she decided to do that within the previous hour, where I "discovered" it accidentally and took my spill.  So not only was I in severe pain, I also had been laying in the wet stuff for the past quarter hour.  Dumb dog.

Dad volunteered to come by the house to watch Melody for me while I drove myself to the hospital.  While I waited for him, I decided I needed to clean up, so I attempted to take a shower.  My left arm was totally useless.  I couldn't lift it at all.  I cleaned up as best I could.  When Dad arrived, he asked if I was sure I could drive myself.  Fortunately, our Jeep was an automatic, so I didn't have to worry about shifting, and I figured I could move the steering wheel with one hand.  It was about 8 p.m. when I arrived at Howard County General.

The emergency room wasn't crowded, thank goodness, and it didn't take long for them to see me.  They took some inconclusive x-rays, finally telling me that they didn't see any broken bones in my shoulder or arm, but they told me to keep my arm in a sling until I could see a specialist and get an MRI.  They released me at about 10:30 with a prescription for some painkillers, and I went home.

I didn't sleep well that night, and I didn't work the following day.  I was able to get an appointment with a specialist the following day.  My shoulder/upper arm bruised badly, and while the pain diminished slightly, I still couldn't use my arm.  I scheduled an MRI, and the results showed multiple fractures in the top of the humerus bone, where the arm meets the shoulder.  There wasn't much else they could do.  Surgery wasn't an option, and putting the arm/shoulder in a cast isn't how it's treated.  I would have to do physical therapy and just allow it to heal.

It was months before I my shoulder began to show improvement, and even several years later, it was still painful when the weather was bad.  I can usually tell when it's going to rain.  Full range of motion is still not there, and I actually still feel a lot of pain when I move my arm awkwardly.  I sometimes have problems putting on a button-up shirt, or jacket, and while I am right-handed, I have to put it on with my left arm first.

Yesterday, after leaving the office, I was sitting at a traffic light in downtown Silver Spring, and I decided to remove my sport coat.  My arms are really long, and so I can't get it off quickly without moving my arms behind me.  As I pulled the jacket off my left arm, and swung it behind me, I felt a shot of pain in my shoulder.  It felt like I was stabbed with a knife.  I was able to pull the jacket off, and I tried to catch my breath.  I debated whether I should pull over, even though the light was still red, to assess the damage.  When it changed to green, I decided to keep going.  But it was hurting, seriously bad.  I tried not to use my arm too much, and while my current Jeep is a standard and I needed both hands to drive, I was able to use the window sill to keep my arm from moving too much.  I had a lot of trouble parking when I got home, however.

I went inside to figure out how badly I had hurt it.  I moved it backwards and lost my breath.  It hurt something awful, and I quickly sat down, breathing heavily.  I really wasn't sure what I had done, but it sure felt like the same kind of injury I had before.  I couldn't understand how something so seemingly innocuous could cause me so much pain.  I absolutely did not want to go to the hospital, and I decided to give it some time and hope it feels better.

I had a rough night, and I know I've likely got some serious damage, but I'm not sure what to do.  I worked today, mostly since I had a day-long off site meeting, and while the inactivity of sitting in a conference room didn't make it any worse, I was pretty miserable all day.  I have 2 more days of meetings, as well.  If I can put up with it until Friday, I'll go see my doctor.

I may not have as good a story as my original one, but at least I don't have to blame the dog this time.

Have a great evening, everyone!

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