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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!


#88. The worst physical pain I’ve ever endured was dislocating my shoulder. Twice.

Okay, so I’ve never broken a bone, as far as I know, so this has to qualify for my ‘feel-sorry-for-me-and-feel-my-pain’ story. Here goes nothin’.

So, the first time I dislocated my shoulder, I was playing hoops. Now, I’m no good at basketball. I’ve never been any good at basketball, and I didn’t want to be playing that time, either. If you’re particularly interested in learning more about my humiliation on that day, you can hop over to #16: Why I haven’t played hoops since I was sixteen. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.

For our purposes here, just imagine that I’m playing hoops, trying to stay the hell out of the way, and avoiding actual contact with the basketball as much as possible. Mainly, I concentrated on playing ‘D’. I figured that as long as I couldn’t dribble or shoot, I might as well take a stab at blocking and rebounding. Or at least clogging up the lane, and farting when the other team came by. Any way I could find to help out, you understand.

Oh, and as long as you’re picturing, I was on the ‘skins’ team of a ‘shirts and skins’ matchup, which just put the cherry of self-consciousness on top of the humiliation sundae. It was not my finest hour, even before the injury.

On the other hand, being a skin saved my shirt, as it turned out. I knew enough about the game to put my hands up on defense, to dribble once and pass when I got the ball on offense, and to set up under the basket for blocks and rebounds. That much I could do. But I knew I wasn’t going to be shooting the ball, under any circumstances, so I trailed our team’s fast breaks. That way, I could be back on defense faster when the ball came the other way.

So, of course, on one of our fast breaks, I’m jogging around midcourt, when the other team steals the ball. One of their guys streaks full-speed down the right sideline. I turn around and sprint after him — by now he’s in front of me, and to my right, but swooping back in toward the basket. I look over my left shoulder and see a baseball pass coming his way. I’m in exactly the right spot, for once in my basketball ‘career’, as the pass has to fly directly over my head to get to him. I’m the last, and the only, line of defense. So, I raise my left hand up to intercept the pass.

The ball hits my hand.

The force jars my arm.

My left humerus slides out of my shoulder socket and jams itself down, between my shoulder blade and my neck.

I took about another three steps, looking for the ball and wondering why my arm wasn’t going where I wanted it to go, before I felt the pain. Which there was rather a lot of, not surprisingly. Eventually, I put the pain and the useless arm together, and slid down on the sideline, gingerly holding my elbow with my right hand, as though that would make everything all right. Or even marginally better.

Eventually, I took an ambulance — I know, I know, I didn’t need an ambulance, but I didn’t know what the hell was going on — to the hospital, and waited for two and half hours through waiting room nonsense, bedside banter, and X-rays. Once they were finally ready for me, the doc injected a local anesthetic into my shoulder, waited thirty seconds, grabbed my elbow, and yank!ed my shoulder back into the socket. It took all of two minutes, which left me desperately wishing that the assholes would have done that first, and then let me cool my heels in the waiting room. Fucking bastards. Okay, fine, the X-rays they could do first. Ten minutes for that, and then the yanking. How hard would that have been? Dickheads.

Anyway, the second time wasn’t all that exciting, I suppose. I was playing wallyball about four years later, in college, when much the same thing happened. I went up to block, someone dinked over me, and I reached waaaay back and made a desperation poke at the ball. My arm decided that was enough nonsense for one day and retreated again to its ‘summer home’ up near my scapula. This time, I got a ride to the hospital. (Hey, when I’m paying the hospital bills, I’m not splurging for an ambulance. We don’t need no steenking ambulances!)

I’d also experienced the pain before, so it wasn’t quite so harrowing. Plus, the doc got me in and out in under an hour, so generally speaking, I had a much better time of things the second go-round. Not that I’m interested in doing it again, mind you. It still hurt like a big angry bitch, and cost me several weeks of atrophy as I kept my arm in a sling for a month or so. And I’ve got enough atrophy all over my body as it is, thank you very much. I think I’ll pass.

So, I’m knocking on wood that I’m done with all of that. Both docs told me that since I’d had this happen, I’d be far more likely to have it happen again (and again, and again, and maybe require surgery). But so far, I’ve had only the one relapse. But I play quite a bit of volleyball, and I still block at the net, and there are still assholes out there who try to dink it over me. I’m dreading the day when reflexes take over, and I sproing my arm out awkwardly to get the ball, and end up back in a sling. I’m not sure I’ll be able to prevent it, or even see it coming.

Which is why I usually knee the guy on the other side of the net in the ‘nads when he goes up to hit the ball. Sure, it looks like it hurts like hell, but I’m positive that the other guy’s not feeling as much pain as I did. And besides, who gives a damn, anyway? Better him than me! Sure, I get tossed out of the occasional league doing that, but hey — I still have uninterrupted use of both arms. And in the end, isn’t it all about me, anyway?

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