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Charlie Hatton
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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!
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With Friends Like These, Who Needs Doctors?

I find it interesting — usually — that every person has their own unique perspective on life. All of the factors that shape our outlook and opinions are different for everyone, and it gives us each our own voice. Most of the time, I think that’s pretty cool.

When I don’t find it cool, however, is when I’ve gone and hurt myself and everyone around offers helpful amateur medical advice. In their own voice. And usually contradicting each other. That’s not so ‘helpful’ any more. Unique perspectives are great, until you’re hobbled or bleeding or can’t feel your face any more. Then, just a touch of consensus would be nice.

“Unique perspectives are great, until you’re hobbled or bleeding or can’t feel your face any more. Then, just a touch of consensus would be nice.”

I first realized this as a teenager, when I dislocated my shoulder during an ill-advised bout of basketball. As I lay cringing on the floor wondering why my arm had suddenly decided to wander off to a different part of my body, the other players came over for a look. And to offer wildly differing advice:

Pull your arm in close to your chest. It won’t hurt as bad.

No, stretch it out. It’ll pop back in.

Here, give it to me, I’ll pull on it.

You should wrap it. That oughta help.

Just get up and walk it off. We’re only down two here.

Great folks. Really trying to help — except that last guy, of course. (Dad was always a little overcompetitive.)

I didn’t know what I should do, so I told them all to go to hell and get me an ambulance. Which they did. And over the course of the next few hours, the doctors X-rayed it, checked it out, and then decided to, in order: stretch it out, pull on it, wrap it up and tell me to keep it close to my chest, for four-to-six weeks.

They did not, to their credit, tell me to ‘walk it off’. I appreciated that. At least until we got the medical bills later. Dad was walking that one off for quite a while.

A similar thing happened a few years ago, when I broke my nose playing softball. That time, we were playing against a team of docs and nurses from a local hospital — and they still couldn’t tell me what I should do.

Tilt your head back.‘ ‘Tilt your head forward.‘ ‘Let the blood drain.‘ ‘Stop the bleeding right away.‘ ‘Lie down.‘ ‘Stand on your head.

By the end of that, I thought they were putting me through calisthenics drills, not treating my nosebleed. Either that, or turning me into a cheerleader. I was waiting for: ‘Sit down, stand up — drip! Drip! Drip!

Luckily, it turned out okay. The bleeding eventually stopped, we lost the game, and I went and had a few beers with the team after the game before walking by the hospital.

Hey, if they had to reset anything, I wanted to be a little numb for it. If they’d offered me a couple of whiskey shots before they’d popped my shoulder back in, that would have been helpful, too. I don’t see why hospitals don’t keep more liquor around for the patients, frankly.

That brings us to tonight — another sport, another injury. I’ve done something unkind to my right forearm. I’m not sure what, exactly — a torn muscle, or a ligament not where it’s meant to be. Something. It’s been that way for a week or so, and angry red bruises have formed near my elbow and wrist. It’s as though all the blood in the area is getting the hell out of town until the trouble is over. Pansy chicken blood, anyway.

Meanwhile, it looks like someone ran over my arm with a Buick. And about twenty minutes into a volleyball match earlier tonight, it was more or less feeling that way, too.

(Yeah, I know. I’m not so bright. This isn’t exactly breaking news, I’m afraid.

But it was the playoffs, dammit. If Curt Schilling can pitch on a stitched-together ankle, and blah blah blah ‘Kirk Gibson’ this, and yadda yadda ‘Michael Jordan’ that, something something ‘lasting memories’, and whatever.

I’ve got no good excuse, really. I just didn’t want to miss the playoffs. What I lacks in smarts, I makes up for in stubborns. I yam what I yam.)

So, we lost. Naturally. Took us maybe half an hour, and we were out of the running, back in street clothes and headed to the bar to drown our sorrows in pints of painkillers. My friends thought my arm needed more than that. So the suggestions cascaded in, like Guinness fresh from the tap:

Put some ice on that, before it swells.

Nah, heat it up. Keep the blood flowing in there.

You got any Ben Gay or Icy Hot? That oughta fix it.

Hold it over your head. Let the swelling drain down.

Take an ibuprofen. Maybe three.

Oh, just get up and walk it off. You played like ass out there tonight.

(That last one may have been just in my head. When your dad coached your Little League team for three years, these sorts of things just spontaneously pop up sometimes. I still have the urge to drop and do twenty push ups when I miss a ground ball. Good times.)

This time, I decided to pick and choose from the advice. I didn’t have any Ben Gay, I didn’t need alcohol and ibuprofen fighting it out over the carcass of my liver, and I don’t see how I could drink and eat nachos with my arm stuck up in the air.

So I got an ice pack and a beer from the bar, chilled the right arm, drank left-handed and watched some hoops. And now, a couple of hours later, I’ll be damned if my arm isn’t feeling the best it has in days. This process of elimination thing with medical advice really seems to work. No hospital bills or ambulance rides or blood pouring down the back of my throat or anything.

Of course, if the arm’s killing me again in the morning, I’ll have to call up five people to ask what to do, and then play ‘eeny-meeny-miney-mo‘ with whatever they tell me.

Which means I am not calling Dad, just in case. ‘Walk it off’, my ass.

Permalink  |  3 Comments

3 Responses to “With Friends Like These, Who Needs Doctors?”

  1. Jenn Thorson says:

    My dad would get along well with your dad. My dad is of the Walk It Off advice line, along with his ever popular: “Just do some squat thrusts, you’ll be fine.”

    So, back seizing up after carrying large pieces of furniture? “Do some squat thrusts.” Pneumonia? “Aw, you’re just out of shape– do some squat thrusts.”

    Best of luck with the arm, Charlie. Maybe if you prop it up a little… :)

  2. Laura says:

    My Dad used to coach the soccer teams for my brother and sisters. I chose not to play. lol

  3. Charlie says:

    Laura, I think you had the right idea. Of course, as an only child, I didn’t really have the option of sitting out and letting my parents concentrate on other kids for a while.

    And the stupid dog wouldn’t learn how to play third base. After all the kibble I shoved into that mutt, too. Fuzzy little ingrate.

    And oh, Jenn. Our dads sound like two tough peas in a grin-and-bear-it pod.

    Me, I’m thinking of just crawling back in bed for a few days with a nice bucket of ice cream and laying low until my arm feels better. ‘Lazy and full of dairy desserts’ beats ‘getting it out, the way I was raised’ in my book.

    And if it’s cookie dough ice cream? Drill sergeant, please. I’ll be in my PJs, under the covers.

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