Changing Gears

I have a white board in my shop that lists the projects I have in front of me. This spring it was nearly full. I had thrown my everything into prep for the Dutch Tool Chest Class combined craft class Tom Latane and I taught at Tunnel Mill Craft School the first weekend in May, (if you missed it that's a crying shame because it was an incredible time, stay tuned for a repeat performance) I had one more job in my way before I threw myself back into the shop full time to prep for an article query and a lecture on "Reconstructing the Shields of the Bayeux Tapestry"

I had been babying a leaking power steering pump in my Honda Pilot for the end of the winter, waiting for warmer weather, but then the starter went out and it was time to spend a day getting greasy replacing those parts. The starter was the more complex job, I started there and things went fine. The power steering pump is relatively easy, on top and accessible, so that repair went very slick.

I was threading on the new serpentine belt and patting myself on the back. I can do car repairs, but I don't usually enjoy them, however this time was working out to be an exception. A job I'd slotted a whole day for had only taken to just after lunch! I hooked the breaker bar into the belt tensioning rocker and pushed with my left arm so I could thread the belt over the last pulley wheel.

That's when all my plans for the spring and summer changed.

I describe the feeling like this. When you go to crush an empty soda can, the structural integrity holds tight for just a second, resisting your attempts in a wobbling, weakening fashion, then fails all at once to crumble into a compacted disk. That's the image in my mind as I remember the tear. A crunch followed by a piercing pain. I tried to ignore it and finish the job, I was so close, but couldn't. I had to go inside and retrieve Mrs. Wolf and I held the tension arm with my right while she finished looping the serpentine belt.

I work in an area operating room as a surgical technologist, I have fir the last 20 years, The only real benefit to it is knowing the Doctor's and PA's well, and having some of their cell phone numbers in mine. I didn't go to the ER, I texted an elbow and shoulder specialist I very much respect. I hurt myself on a Tuesday, I got a clinic appointment Wednesday morning, got squeezed in for an MRI Wednesday afternoon and late that evening took a call from the Doctor telling me he wanted to do the surgical repair the next day at the end of his schedule because sooner equals better outcomes and easier recovery.

I understand I'm a lucky man in regards to my access and options here, besides the paycheck it's all I really get for 20 years of hard work in a harsh environment. Buy me a whiskey and I'll tell you what it's like off the record.

The diagnosis is a High Grade Partial Tear of the Distal Biceps Tendon. I'm told it would've hurt less if I'd just torn it completely. The scholar side of my surgeon (and me to some degree) is fascinated that I received this injury PUSHING the breaker bar because it's a flexion injury. I just don't shake hands with normal often. It is a looong recovery, the first 2 weeks immobilized, the next 4 weeks restricted to 30 degrees of flexion up from 90, and no weight allowed. the next 6 weeks with a 2-3 lbs weight restriction, and the 4 weeks of ramping up rehab to get strength back.

Around 16 weeks before I'm allegedly off restrictions and can return to work at the hospital and to the shop.

That's if everything goes to plan.

I'm exactly one week from the injury as I sit here and type this one handed. I'm starting to pass the initial hurdles of post-op swelling and I can start to do a few things so the boredom stops driving me crazy. I'm right handed so I can still draw and paint and write so I intend to throw myself into those endeavors. I've had a passion side project I've quietly outlined and worked on in spare evenings that I will ramp up to fill the creative void. I've been scripting and illustrating a comic book. It might be something... It might be only a distraction....

Either way life is better when you're busy.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. Derek

    It hurts just reading about it. I know from my own incidents in past years that there is an odd balancing act -- immobility at the beginning while the body heals, then panful diligence in pursuing the rehab exercises that allow for the recovery. You are right, it is good to keep active and the brain firing on all cylinders to ward off the depression that sedentary-ness might inflict otherwise.

    Heal well, my friend.

  2. Sorry to hear about your injury. Stay busy!


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