I remember it was close to the tax filing deadline, I think it was 2004, on a Saturday. Using a handsaw, I was sawing branches that had fallen out of the trees over the winter into smaller pieces to increase my kindling supply.
I was sawing a heavy larger branch and the saw blade caught in the wood, lifting the heavy branch on my upswing. I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder but after awhile I was able to finish what I had started.I went in to take a shower and noticed that my shoulder was gradually getting worse and by the time I put my jeans on, I couldn’t manage to pull my zipper up. The pain was intense and getting worse.
The wait in the emergency waiting area at the hospital was agony. I couldn’t sit still in a chair because of the pain and I paced around the whole time. At one point a woman walked up and asked me if I had a kidney stone. I thought to myself this must be what hell is like; just a huge emergency room full of suffering people who will never be seen to.
The young emergency room doc, seeing what pain I was in, gave me a syringe full of Demerol which didn’t do a lot for me; I was now a goof ball in a lot of pain. The ER doc said I had a slight temperature and had noticed a discoloration on the skin of my waistline. He thought there was a possibility of a strep infection and was getting a room ready. I could tell he was alarmed but excited about a strep case that walked in on his watch. This was shaping up to be a great weekend.
The young ER doc called in an orthopedic doc and he looked at the discolored spot on my waist and took my temperature again. “I’d hate to admit you for the possibility of a strep infection; let’s just aspirate your shoulder and we can find out right now if it’s strep or not.”
I looked around for wife who had vanished for parts unknown. Wife knows a lot of medical terms.
“What’s aspiration doc?”
“I’ll slide a needle into your shoulder and draw out fluid to see if it's a strep infection or not.”
“The nurse prepared the doc’s tray for the aspiration procedure and walked over to my good side and did a kind of hammer lock on my arm. All I needed was a belt of whiskey and a stick to bite down on. He came at me with the needle. If the nurse hadn’t been holding my good arm down, I would have tried to hit him.
It wasn’t a strep infection but “severe acute tendonitis”. I knew what tendonitis was from my years playing tennis but I didn’t know it could be severe and acute at the same time. I know it’s the worse pain I’ve ever had before or since. Wife suggested I try giving birth sometime.
We got home about two in the morning after stopping by the drug store for pain pills. I sat in the bedroom chair while wife made grill cheese sandwiches for us. We were both famished. I had taken two of the pain pills. Wife later said I was sitting with my head down, eyes closed, and loosely holding onto my grilled cheese sandwich.
I’m still not much of a chain saw man as there’s just too much that can go wrong. Just a one slip up is all it takes for a serious injury. I still use a hand saw but carefully and only on a stable surface.