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A Very Long Journey for a Very Short Trip

Santa Rosa & So Cal
April 16 and beyond

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I guess I should have known better than to accept Andy's offer to take a spin on his old skateboard, which he had just updated with new wheels and trucks. My short ride in a small circle on Brookside Drive went well, but then for some reason I thought I still knew how to kick up the skateboard as I stepped off -- and that's when I went down hard, dislocating my shoulder, breaking a bone, and shredding three of my rotator cuffs.

I knew right away that the pain was something special, and it wasn't going away. And all I was thinking was, "I don't want to go the Emergency Room in the middle of a pandemic!"

But after a half hour or so of agony, I knew I had to go in. I was surprised that neither the E.R. doctor or the male nurse were wearing a mask. But I wasn't in much of a position to make a stink about it. I begged for some strong pain medication for a half hour before they gave it to me. While I was waiting for them to put me out to pop the shoulder back into place, I asked the nurse whether it had been busy. No, he said, but we're just starting to get people like you who are bored with the lockdown and start doing dumb things.

Some weeks later, I found myself in the shoulder surgeon's office at UCLA, Dr. Cheung who told me the fix was "a three-hour surgery, a six-month recovery, and a 70% chance of recurrence."

In actuality, the surgery in early May took more than five hours. Before they put me under, I asked Dr Cheung whether he had done this before, assuming that this was a mere formality. He paused: "Well, I've done every part of this before. But I've never done it all in one surgery.