Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Shoulder Dislocation of 2014

Looking back on it, I think there were signs something was going to happen.  Between Thursday night and Saturday afternoon, at least three people noticed and asked about the scar on my right shoulder which is the mark of the surgery I had seven years ago.  I should have known it was a sign.  After seven years, the scar has faded and few people notice it anymore.  (Case in point, one of the people who asked about it this weekend has known me since September and seen me in a bathing suit numerous times).  I should have been knocking on wood as I explained the surgery had been to tighten up the tendons around my shoulder and make sure I didn’t dislocate it again, and that I hadn’t had a problem since then.  But I didn’t.

Let’s back up a bit.  On Friday, Amanda (of “Amanda and Josh and adventures in Puerto Rico” fame) arrived in Guatemala to visit, volunteer, and take in Latin culture.  She’ll spend a full month here, with Josh coming down to meet her two weeks from now.  We had plans to go off on a rock climbing adventure this weekend, but those plans fell through.  So Amy and Kenra and I hatched a Plan B to go to the beach.  But the forecast for rain was so strong, we decided the 3 hour drive to arrive there just as the afternoon rains started probably wasn’t worth it.  So instead, we spent Saturday morning at the next best place—the pool on the 15th floor of Chris’s apartment building.

The morning brought us some sunshine, and we passed the hours quickly.   Soon it was lunch time, and we decided to order food at the pool rather than leaving.  As the afternoon progressed, the clouds moved in, and we actually hoped for rain—because what better place to experience rain than from a heated pool with a great view of the city?  Eventually, the rain started.  We stayed in the pool playing a game called Ships and Submarines, which is a form of water tag in which the Ship (the person who is “it”) can only move in straight lines across the pool.  Hilarity and childish antics ensued. 

And then, as I shot across the pool to escape being tagged, I felt my left arm twist behind me in an awkward way, and I knew as I stood up it wasn’t right.  I looked down.  I knew the feeling and the look of it.  I’d dislocated my left shoulder. 

I will say this—I’m glad it was the left, because if it had been the one I’d had surgery on, the one I’d spent a week in an immobilizer and attended three months of physical therapy after, I would have been pretty upset.

So, then the Guate adventure began. 
The bartender at the pool called the bomberos down the street for us to come and get me and take me to the nearest medical center.  Though they were supposedly only 2 blocks away, it took probably 20 minutes for them to get there.  (Note to self: if you’re having a heart attack in Guatemala City, maybe don’t bank on an ambulance saving your life.) 

Amanda and I hopped into the van ambulance, and Amy and Kenra followed us to the hospital.  At this point, my arm felt uncomfortable and the nerves were starting to get that tingly feeling, but I wasn’t in pain.  I really didn’t feel any pain until I went in for the X-Ray and had to stand without my pillow support to keep my arm away from my body.  But as I waited for the technician to hurry up and take the film, I felt my face starting to crumple.  Soon enough though, it was over and I was back on the wheely hospital bed with pillows propping my arm in its most comfortable position. 

The first nurse had told me they’d give me a sedation that would put me to sleep for about 30 minutes so they could put my shoulder back in.  I told them that had never been necessary before and I thought I could handle it without that, so we compromised with a shot of Demerol that made me feel pleasantly spinny for about 15 minutes.  The doctor came in, and in the smoothest motion I think I have ever experienced for a shoulder relocation, he gracefully eased my shoulder up and twisted it right back into place.  I’m not sure how much was the Demerol and how much was the Doctor Soto’s skill, but I didn’t feel a thing

After that, it was a simple matter of follow-up X-Rays (accompanied by a moment of nausea induced by the Demerol, which thankfully passed quickly), paying the bill, and then Amy and Kenra drove us back to pick up my car and take me home (driving a manual with your left arm in a sling might be possible, but it’s not convenient). 

It seems stupid things happen to me when I'm
wearing a bathing suit in Guatemala.  Thankfully
Kenra and Chris loaned me a cover-up that closed in front
and sweatpants fot the trip to the hospital.
Quite the fashion statement!  :) 

So.  Amanda and I have both experienced a Guatemalan hospital for the first time.  I have a pretty new sling for use in Guatemala.  My arm still feels pretty good, and I will be able to do everything I want to by the time my parents and sister get her at the end of this week, and I’m kind of looking forward to sympathy from my students tomorrow.  As always, I’m looking at the bright side in all this.  It really was a pretty good weekend.  

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