Tuesday, April 3, 2007


In the summer of 1994, I was piloting my four-wheeler through backwoods trails towards a friend's house. The purpose of the journey was to spend the day swinging on a rope tied in a tall tree over a wide and sufficiently deep creek. Should've been fun times all around but, alas and alack, things didn't work out as expected.

While negotiating a downward grade in a particularly rough trail, I went over a bump too fast, hit the next one wrong, and was thrown uncerimoniously into the air.

The four-wheeler came down in the forest, resting against a fallen tree, and still running. Oddly enough, the vehicle had been acting up in the previous months; half the time, we couldn't even get the damn thing started. After the accident, it turned over on the first try every time. Go figure.

So, while the four-wheeler was pitched one way, I went the other. I slammed into the hill, rolled down, and blacked out. It was estimated that I hit the ground at somewhere around 35-40 miles per hour.

I came to seconds later, tried to stand up, and blacked out again. In my violent roll down the hill, my helmet flew off; we found it several hundred feet away in the woods. That's a PSA for the kids; if I had forgotten the helmet, I'd either be dead or a vegetable. Somehow, I also lost a shoe.

By the time my brother and cousin, who were riding ahead of me, realized what had happened and turned around, I had stood up again and found that I couldn't move my left arm. Then I noticed that my left shoulder was at a disturbing right angle. Then the pain set in.

Eventually, I made it to the hospital and moved quickly through the process of getting my shoulder set.

As it turned out, the dislocated shoulder wasn't quite all I suffered. The ball that fits into the ball-and-socket joint was taken completely off the bone. Hence, the dislocation and fracture.

I was taken to the X-Ray room. This is what I looked like...

I had left the house wearing sweatpants and my prized "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" t-shirt. To get to my shoulder injury and the cuts on my legs and feet, my shirt and sweatpants were cut off of me. Since I had planned on being in the water, I was only wearing swimming trunks under the sweatpants.

Parts of me were caked in dirt; my face and arms were orange.

I had two nasty cuts/scrapes that had not been tended to; the gouge on my side was dripping blood on the floor and the odd parallel cuts on my feet (which probably had something to do with the shoe getting ripped off) were turning one foot a dark red.

As mentioned, my shoulder was at a right angle. The pain had been throbbing for the past hour and had increased to something like a constant stabbing feeling in my shoulder, upper arm, and neck.

The pain was so intense at that point that I was breathing in shallow gasps.

The X-Ray room was so goddamn cold that I (dressed in only swimming trunks) was shivering uncontrollably. This, as can be imagined, did not help the shoulder situation.

So, there I am. I'm shivering, dirty, bleeding, half-naked, and I'm in so much pain that it's hard for me to stay conscious. A nurse comes in, sticks my X-Ray into the viewer, and leaves.

The doctor (a radiologist, I presume) walks in without so much as a cursory glance in my direction.

The doctor grabs my X-Ray, looks at it, pauses for a second, and says...


I was in too much pain to do much of anything. He smiled at me, shrugged, and left. I silently cursed his name, whatever the Hell it was.

Several minutes later, I was given a delicious cocktail of the most wonderful drugs and a small Indian doctor stood above me, grabbed me in an armbar, and forcibly yanked my destroyed shoulder back into place.

After the drugs everything is fuzzy, but the nurses told me that the "snap" of my shoulder and broken bones sliding back into place could be heard throughout the ER.

I love this story because it's not quite as bad as the second time I dislocated my shoulder. Might as well tell the second story directly...

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