Tag Archives: ulnar nerve

One Year Update: The Chief Almost Kills Himself


Today officially marks one year since my near-fatal accident here at the house. Some of you might remember: I slipped on a wet spot on the linoleum floor the atrium in my parents’ home while carrying a gallon glass jug of iced tea. My feet literally went out from under me. Being airborne for a split second allowed my entire body to rotate 180 degrees and land face down on the floor; two shards of glass from the shattered jug piercing my right arm. After a three-day stay at Hotel Parkland, I returned home with multiple stitches, no feeling in my right hand and an overwhelming desire to bathe for two or three hours. I was still pissed that I wasted half a jug of that herbal tea because I didn’t watch where the hell I was going. It’s amazing how a simple misstep can be so life-changing.

I had surgery last September 13 – a Friday, to be certain – and I’m just now starting to regain function and feeling in the right ring and little fingers. The hand surgeon had told me it would probably take up to a year to regain full functionality and sensation – if that happens at all. At the rate I’m going, I figure I might get up to 75% by this September. It’s a good thing I can do a lot with my left hand. I always knew being bi-manual would come in…well, handy some day.

I note that my accident was near-fatal because of the severity of the wound in my upper right arm and the amount of blood loss. If my father hadn’t wrapped a towel tightly around it, just beneath the elbow, I could have bled to death. The only other thing I had going for me was that the glass cut a vein and not an artery. If it had cut an artery – well, let’s just say I’d have to change the name of my blog to “Chief Writing Spirit.” That would give a whole new meaning to the term “ghost writing.”

I’m fortunate, though, very fortunate. I managed to survive and live to see my 50th birthday last November. I still have great parents and a great dog, plus a good collection of close friends. I consider military veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and realize I don’t have much to complain about. Why does it take such catastrophic events to make people realize how good they actually have it? I don’t know. I guess we need to get shaken up like that – sometimes shaken up badly, in a bloody painful way – to understand life can be good most of the time.

So, as I mark this unwanted first anniversary of stupid accident and a difficult recovery, I continue writing and enjoying the people I love the most. But, damnit, I’m still pissed off about wasting that perfectly good herbal tea!


Filed under Essays

Update: The Chief Almost Kills Himself


Not feeling sorry for myself, I nonetheless wanted to give everyone an update on my accident.  It’s been two months now since a simple trip to a refrigerator turned into a two-day hospital visit and nerve damage.  If I could somehow turn this into a reality TV show, I think I might secure my financial future.  I mean, as a bisexual / Spanish / Mexican Indian / German / recovering Catholic / former alcoholic writer, I certainly know how to create drama.

I visited a hand specialist last Tuesday, the 13th, and she laid it out for me as clearly and honestly as possible.  The bad news is that I’m in worse shape than I thought; the good news is that it’s not as bad as it could be.  Nerve damage is rated on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the worst.  I’m a borderline 3.  Normally I hate just getting halfway to something, but on this, I’m thankful.  Also, nerves regenerate at roughly one inch per month.  But on average, an injury like mine will result in permanent damage in anywhere between twelve and eighteen months, if nothing is done sooner.  Thus, with the extent of the damage I have, I won’t heal fast enough over the next ten months to salvage my hand.  She says she can repair the damage and return me to 100% functionality – or close to it – but she has to do surgery.  She only mentioned that after she’d told me everything I needed to know about nerves and how they operate, so I already feel I can trust her.  If a doctor mentions surgery within ten minutes of a conversation, I think you should get up and flee.  Any legitimate physician will explain everything in detail first and then discuss surgery.

Since I don’t have health insurance, and prostituting myself is not a viable option, I’ll have to pay for the surgery up front.  I’d mentioned previously that I had surgery scheduled at Parkland Hospital in Dallas – where I was taken after the accident.  But, they won’t treat me in part because I’m not a Dallas County resident (I live in neighboring Denton County), but also because I have no health insurance.  Usually Parkland treats the uninsured, which is why it’s not the ideal place to get medical care.  But, it’s that damn county residence thing!  Instead, Parkland referred me to Denton County’s indigent health care program.  The latter mailed me an application, which I had to fill out and snail mail back to them with reams of documentation proving that, although I’m a really nice person who uses his turn signal and loves small animals, I’m flat-ass broke.  I never thought I’d be considered a starving artist, but here I am.  Then, they’ll supposedly call me to come in for a personal review.  I couldn’t do any of that online, so hopefully, they won’t be too shocked when I pull up in my 2006 model Dodge pickup truck and not a horse and buggy.  The Affordable Care Act is supposed to kick in at the beginning of 2014, but I can’t wait until then.

I have to get this done.  Handwriting, for one thing, is difficult.  I’ve kept a hand-written journal for nearly thirty years, but I’ve switched to a digital journal last month; that is, a Word document on my computer.  I have boxes of spiral-bound notebooks dating back to November 1983; all filled with a lifetime of joy, sadness, strange thoughts and sexual proclivities.  If I ever decide to run for public office, I’d have to burn them.  Other manual tasks are challenging.  I can do just about anything with my left hand, though, except write.  Well, I supposed I could write left-handed if I really wanted, but it’ll come out looking like a rambunctious third-grader who’s gone two days without Ritalin.

I still consider myself fortunate.  I have great parents and an incredible little dog, plus a collection of friends, all of whom have been very supportive.  I’ve suspended my gym membership indefinitely, but my creativity remains active.  I still think of the man I shared the room at Parkland with; the one who had to have his lower right leg amputated because of sciatic nerve damage gone awry.  It’s ironic that we were both in there because of nerve injuries.  But, at least I didn’t lose my right arm.  And, aside from my ability to work a keyboard, I can still make some hellacious mix drinks!  I mean, what would I be worth as a writer if I couldn’t stir up my own cocktails?!

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