September 01, 2010

Trial Separation
entry, July 15, 2005

Yesterday morning I failed my dexterity roll rather literally. I was playing volleyball, dove for a ball (which I slapped badly), and then tucked into a right-left shoulder roll (lead with the right shoulder, roll across to the left hip). But I failed my roll, both literally and spectacularly. It ended up being a right-side "shoulder furrow," followed by a rolling flop onto my back. There were funny noises and sharp pains, but no colorful metaphors because I was playing ball with a bunch of nice ladies from Church.

Ask anybody who has worked with me extensively: I'm quite capable of using foul language. I find it base, demeaning, and unfortunately rather expressive, if in a lowest-common-denominator sort of way. So... it's not that I didn't curse because I don't know how, it's that there was just enough higher function in my brain to override. What came out of my mouth was a grunt, followed by some throat-charring gutteral groaning as I put my shoulder through a quick self-test to see if anything was broken.

So... no breaks. I considered getting up and continuing play, but when I stood I realized there was a whole library of pain that needed cataloging, and librarians do their best work in cool, quiet places. I decided to go home.

For those of you waiting for the other shoe to drop, yes, I've lost most of the use of my right arm, and yes, that's the arm I draw with.

Going home was a challenge, because TurboSchlock has a manual transmission. I made it home okay once I decided just to leave it in 2nd gear. It was all residential streets anyway.

The pain kicked in hard when I got home. I called the doctor and made an appointment, and then slammed 800mg of ibuprofen. In short order the pain in my head, neck, back, lower back, and legs had abated, leaving me with a very clear view of the pain in my shoulder.

*sigh*. I'm looking back and reading this, and it's not coming out funny. Stupid drugs. I'll try harder to get some funny bits in here. Hold still.

Cut to the doctor's office: I've figured out how not to make the pain happen, and things have been okay. The doc palpates my clavicle, upper traps, and scapula and it just feels to me like a nice massage. No pain. Then he hits the rotating shoulder cuff with a ball-peen hammer (I wasn't watching -- he insists he was using his thumb, but first-hand reports from the nerves on the scene give the lie to that) and the lights go out.

No kidding -- my vision went black with pretty stars, and I grunted something non-obscene. Bless you, higher brain, for preventing me from using 32 letters worth of four-letter words to insist that the doctor do something anatomically impossible, and to do it sideways.

Having found the spot that hurt, he sent me off to get X-rayed.

X-raying was fun. The jolt of pain in the doctor's office triggered an adrenaline rush, followed closely by a short endorphine trip. I'm pretty in touch with my body (not like that, you pervert) and could tell what was happening. The endorphins were nice. For the first time since 10:35am (the time of the failed roll) I was relaxed. With my arm in a sling, I managed to draw a quick caricature of me, loopy on endorphins, on a Post-it note which I handed to the admissions clerk. Yes, it had the schlockmercenary.com URL on it. She seemed very pleased.

Diagnosis: According to the X-rays, I probably separated my shoulder, but it's too swollen to really get a good palpation (sweet leather hot-pants of mercy THANK YOU) so the doc gave me two prescriptions, a sling to take home, and instructions to "take it easy."

It was a rough afternoon. I'm a type-A personality. "Taking it Easy" means spending some time doing the dishes in between inking a week of strips and scanning them in for coloring. What the doctor really WANTS me to do is "convalesce." I'm not very good at that.

Oh, funny bit. The doctor knows I'm a cartoonist (I asked him about healing times, and told him why I was interested) and ended up with my last URL card (which is why the cute admissions clerk downstairs got a Post-it note, but I digress). When I came back upstairs from admissions, he and the visiting RN had both read the first week of Schlock Mercenary. I groaned in a new kind of pain.

"Doc, I figure that if I have to learn to draw with my left hand, I'll be able to get up to the level of quality seen in those early strips in about 90 minutes."

It turns out that he and the nurse really liked them. After all, of the first four strips, three feature a doctor giving a physical to a creature with no anus.

So, on to answering the big question: "What does this injury mean for you, who need your daily Schlock fix?"

Answer: Nothing, yet. I've spoken to some other cartoonists, and if I can't get healed up before July 23rd (a week from Friday), we'll put something together that does not involve me drawing. Why July 23rd? Because that's the end of Book IV, and would make a very natural place in which to insert a short mini-story scripted by me and drawn by other cartoonists.

It may not come to that. I don't want it to -- I'm a proud, proud person, and I have the first week of Book V drawn and ready to go. I'm sure I can heal up in time to get more material online. But if I can't... well, I want you folks to keep coming back every day, so I'll make sure there's a compelling reason for you to do that.

Now you know. I'm sorry that wasn't funnier. There have been some very, very funny moments in the last 24 hours. I told a really good one about how I got my ass handed to me by a bunch of nice ladies from Church, and it had the radiologists rolling in the aisles, but I was high on endorphins at the time and can't remember what I said.

Yeah, those Church ladies really, REALLY handed it to me. Sideways.

--Howard

(Note: Updates to this will be available at howardtayler.livejournal.com. Until the schlockmercenary.com blogging system is online, it's easier for me to take regular dumps over in the live journal. I'm not sure that came out right.)

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