It’s time to go under the knife

February 1, 2012

Long long ago (Thanksgiving week of 1998 to be precise), I had surgery on my right shoulder to repair a torn rotator cuff, and to deal with an impinged joint. I still have the 1/2 inch of collarbone that the surgeon removed, in a jar of formaldehyde. When he asked why I wanted it, I explained. “It’s mine.”

Anyway, in February of 1999, while working on the roof, then climbing down, I was trying to protect my right shoulder, and remain convinced that I tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder. I remember it distinctly: the hot, searing pain in my shoulder, and the miracle that I made it down the ladder while seeing spots and getting tunnel vision, the pain was so intense. “Spit on it, rub a little dirt in it, and keep on playing” has been my philosophy, so I pushed on.

Fast forward to January 2010. I was at home on a Saturday afternoon, watching football, and ran upstairs to get something. Heading back downstairs, I was “skiing” the stairs, barely hitting them, when I missed one. Instintively knowing that if I fell forward, it could spell disaster, and throwing myself backward could mean a traumatic head injury, I threw myself to my left, towards the wall, and all my body weight went on my shoulder joint. Repeat hot, searing, pain. Hello, torn biceps tendon.

Spit on it, rub dirt in it, keep on playing. The Doc thought he could deal with it without surgery, and so it has been for 2 years. But now the time has come. As I write this, I look at the clock, and realize that this time tomorrow I’ll be blissfully asleep, while my surgeon, who is a friend, is working away on me. He will deal with the rotator cuff, torn biceps, and bone spurs that are impinging the joint. By afternoon I’ll be home, loopy on pain meds, no doubt, and odds are, NOT spitting on it, rubbing dirt in it, and continuing to play. Not for a few days, at any rate.

Some years ago, I wrote my own mantra, something that I repeat to myself when facing anything that seems daunting. I have a feeling I’ll be repeating it over the next few days:

I am steel.

Purified by God,

Forged in pressured fires,

I can bend, but not break

When hammered, I harden.

When stressed, I strengthen.

Relentless in focus,

Pain is my friend,

Hunger is my brother,

Fatigue is my lover.

Stay tuned. I’ll see if I can’t update things (my status) and add some pictures over the next few days.


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