Shall I tell you of my unfathomable stupidity? I won’t bury the lede, here’s the punchline and you’ll know how the story unfolds… Last night I got my ass kicked by the World Trade Center.
I’ve been fighting a really bad pain in my wrist. At first I thought it might be a simple irritation that would go away on its own. Then I tried Aleve, then I started wearing a brace. When the pain didn’t subside, I simply switched hands when I did certain tasks that caused the pain. And now that it’s been a few months, the simple act of shaking hands sends me almost into tears. The wrong twist or turn and I almost black out in pain. So I made a doctor’s appointment.
I like my doctor. He’s a simple, no-bullshit kind of guy who explains the medical jargon to me so that I get a street level view of what the hell he’s talking about. So he’s a good guy, but the less I see of him the better. I pretty much have to lose a limb before I’ll go to a doctor, and that’s only if there’s no needle and thread available for me to try and sew it back on myself.
Level “C” De Quervain Syndrome. I saw him this morning and it turns out I’ve got severe tendinitis. De Quervain sounds fancy, but they also call it “Gamer thumb” or my favorite, “Nintendinitis”. I text less than the average, I don’t game to excess, I’m not a Blackberry addict. But years of turning screwdrivers and the combination of all my current activities include some version of agitation to my thumb/wrist. So we’ll try a cortisone shot and see how that turns out.
That was diagnosed this morning. Last night, I aggravated the pain to excruciating levels.
After band rehearsal I was sticking around to put things away. On one of the tables is a large, odd looking hunk of metal. Probably 3” thick, 8” square with an 8” crossbeam jutting out the top. It was crudely cut or welded and looked like some kind of garage-made anvil or something. One of the pipers standing by it is retired NYPD and auxiliary NYFD who lost many of his friends in the 9/11 response.
I ask him if that’s what I think it is, he says it is. He secured it for our upcoming 9/11 memorial. This crude hunk of steel has now taken on the aura of a holy relic. I ask him if I may touch it, he tells me to pick it up and feel how heavy it is.
Now I started this little story with the description of how much pain I have in my right wrist. So it’s fresh in your mind and you obviously know what happens next. However, I’ve been living with this pain for six months and it’s just become a part of life for me, I hardly think about it until I twist the wrong way…
I lift the hunk of metal with mechanical strength, determined to hoist it up without hesitation. I will not be the guy who can’t pick it up from the table and goes “whoa, that’s heavy!” Like Thor wielding Mjolnir, I lift!
About half way up, the inverted ~25 pound hunk goes top-heavy and turns on me. My wrist loses ALL gripping power, ALL strength and all my eyes can see are sharp white spiky flowers on a field of shimmering black threatening to envelop me.
My brain tells me that it’s a huge hunk of rusted metal, you can’t break it, LET IT DROP! My heart tells me this would be tantamount to letting the American Flag touch the floor, DON’T LET IT DROP!
My stupid heart won, I lunge at it with my other arm just as the top heavy jagged ingot is falling toward my face. I catch it, return it safely to the table with, “Whoa, that’s heavy!”
If my wrist hurt before, now it’s on fire. With a spike through it. And an elephant standing on it. Also, fire ants. And maybe acid under the skin.
So that’s the story of how the World Trade Center kicked my ass. Or, if you like, an average Thursday in my fucked-up life…