A great fall to make up for a terrible summer. Okay. I’m sorry to unearth an old Humpty Dumpty dad joke. It goes, “Why did Humpty Dumpty have a great fall? To make up for a terrible summer!” Hold on…I’ll be right back…I’m taking a moment to chuckle. There. It’s so dang efficient when I amuse myself. Back to my story.
Yep, the summer of ’21 is my very own version of that sad egg-bustin’ modified nursery rhyme (the dad joke version is so ingrained in my brain I often think it’s the real rhyme). Well, like the Dumpster I did have a great fall. I had a great fall, though my summer has been a challenge. Pain, difficulty, and discouragement have been my ever-vigilant pea-dogs (a “pea-dog” is something a Marine might call his friend…pea like peas in a pod and dog, that universal term of endearment if not admiration).
June 16—Galena, Illinois. After work I did what I try to do somewhat regularly…walk 1-1/2 miles or so. I was finishing up my walk. It had been a weird one…I felt a little out of balance. I was unstable and moving too fast. I turned into my steeply downward sloped front yard, lost my balance and fell. A “mechanical” fall the doctors called it. Face first in tall grass. And an ant hill.
I tried to stop my fall with my left arm. I was face down in the yard with my left arm stuck in a waving “hello” position. Heck, I’m nothin’ if not friendly. An attempt to get up told me what I already suspected…my arm was broken and I was stuck. I laid there in the yard, just me and the ants, for about 15 minutes until my right hand could dig my phone out of my pocket. I called Patty, only a few feet away in the house. She came out and called an ambulance. Five vehicles responded (Patty is well-known in her hometown of Galena; she gets action).
At this point I was thinking, “It’s just a broken arm. They’ll put a cast on it and that’s that.” First the ambulance was going to take me to the Galena hospital. The EMTs quickly dismissed that option. By now they moved me into the ambulance and appointed one guy to stand there and hold my arm. He had that job awhile.
So off to the hospital in Dubuque, Iowa some 30 minutes away. They saw my situation and quickly dispatched me to the University of Iowa Hospital, about two hours away in Iowa City. The consensus was they had the best orthopedics department in the area. It was my first clue I was in for much more than a quick cast and a sling. Lots of ambulance time. With the poor guy assigned to hold my arm.
Once in Iowa City, I got lots of information. I didn’t just break the ball on top of my humerus bone, but also dislocated my shoulder and tore my rotator cuff. Whew. After all night in the waving position, they finally knocked me out and put my shoulder back in place. It also told them what they needed to know about next steps. A few days later, I was scheduled for Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement surgery.
Pain. Throughout the process so far. At first, any movement of my left arm at all caused immediate distress.
Difficulty. My arm was useless. So many things I did with two hands I now had to go ahead with only one. I’m left-handed so I had my non-dominant right hand to work with. So many things that require a left hand and arm. Writing? Ha! My left hand wasn’t available and my right hand just couldn’t do it. Brushing my teeth? At best awkward. Eating? I ordered mostly finger foods like wraps and pizza. Otherwise I was playing “snag the spoon” and I didn’t win very often. Very clumsy. Even typing this story isn’t a simple task for me today.
Discouragement. My summer couldn’t include fun time with grandkids, car shows, and character appearances. No swimming. No vacation. Wallowing in self-pity.
Maybe it really was a terrible summer.
It’s been three months now since my great fall. I’ve just started physical therapy. My arm and left hand are now somewhat more than useless. I have seen a lot of improvement and I’m encouraged. Physical therapy is helping. It’s going to take awhile and I may not regain full use. Okay.
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” Well it sounds like they at least` tried to rebuild the egg man (“…I am the egg man, I am the egg man, I am the walrus, koo, koo, kachoo”).
This is where the Hump and I take different roads. I had a top surgeon to put me back together again. That surgeon, Dr. James Nepola, actually postponed his family vacation to do my surgery. Well, shut my mouth and call me cornpone! A huge blessing.
I was also incredibly blessed by my wife, Patty. She had to take on all the household duties along with her demanding job and taking care of me. I’m thankful. My family and Patty’s were very supportive and helpful, too.
Yes, it’s been a tough almost three months. And it’s been 10 months since I had Covid. A mild case thankfully. And almost 12 months since my open heart valve replacement surgery. A real Easter egg for me (sorry) is that hospital tests before surgery on my shoulder gave me fresh proof my heart is doing well. Always great to hear that! Still, it all adds up to a challenging year for sure.
I’m almost “back together again” and I’m about ready to get back up on the wall.
Like my version of Humpty Dumpty, I intend to have a great fall to make up for a terrible summer. Yes, I will.