Looking Across the Beagle Channel Toward Isla Navarino
This is a picture I took a little more than ten years ago on November 15, 2006, the day I broke my shoulder at one of the ends of the earth. That day, I took a cruise on the Beagle Channel to Estancia Harberton, a place of great importance in the history of Tierra del Fuego. The channel was named after the ship that bore Charles Darwin on his five-year cruise around the world, sailing under Captain FitzRoy. It was here—and not the more northerly Straits of Magellan—that the HMS Beagle cut between what is now the Argentinean Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean Isla Navarino, where the southernmost town in the world, Puerto Williams, is situated.
The weather was starting to get bad, so bad that our motorized catamaran, the Moreno Jr., dropped us off at Harberton; and a bus was called for from Ushuaia to take us back. By the time we approached town, not only was it slowing heavily, but the waters of the channel were getting increasingly choppy. It was that snowstorm that iced the streets of Ushuaia and made me fall shoulder first into a high curb at the intersection of Magallanes and Rivadavia.
Now here’s the real story. This was the real beginning of my love for Argentina. Motorists stopped for me and called an ambulance on their cell phones. I was well taken care of at the local hospital; and the owner of the bed & breakfast where I was staying helped me in every possible way, to the detriment of her own business. Even as I left the country from Buenos Aires’s Ezeiza Airport, the security people didn’t make a big deal of signing my name on the forms, as my writing arm was in a sling.
On this grim day, I fell in love with a country and returned there twice. And, with luck, I will return again. Regardless of the weather.
How I Looked Before Physical Therapy
Well, it looks as if I no longer qualify for that bellringer’s job. Before showing up at UCLA Rehab last week, I looked like the character above. But thanks to the skill of my physical therapists. aided and abetted by blasting caps and a jackhammer, I am able to move my arms almost as well a monkey in the trees.
This is hardly new to me. In 2002, when I had a left hip replacement, I had my first experience with physical therapy—with such success that my surgeon had to check his records to see which hip he had operated on, so natural was my walk. Then, in 2006, I slipped and fell on the ice during a blizzard in Tierra Del Fuego and cracked my humerus against a high concrete curb. Again, the PTs brought the affected limb back to life. Now, I broke the other shoulder on Saturday, March 14.
I am almost convinced that there is little that physical therapists cannot do. Well, not quite. They weren’t able to do much for the right arm of the guy in the picture below.
A Really Challenging Case for Recovering Full Range of Motion
So my hearty thanks to Lynn and Prachi and their colleagues at UCLA Outpatient Rehabilitation and the miracles they accomplish.
I’m Healing, but Slowly
Today marks the third week since I fell in the street opposite my house and broke my left shoulder. The fracture is healing nicely, but ever so slowly.
The worst of it is at night when I am in bed. The joint throbs in pain all night, with my arm frequently falling asleep. Last night, I slept all of three hours; and I was unable to nap this afternoon. During the day, I get along all right and do not have to wear my sling. (I wear it on the bus, however, to warn other passengers to steer clear of my shoulder.)
On Thursday, the orthopedic surgeon seemed pleased with my recovery. He hinted that there would be a breakthrough in the next few days. I’m still waiting for it. In the meantime, I’m taking Advil for the pain, which seems no worse than the Hydrocodone I had been taking, and is probably a good deal safer.
This fracture has been far worse than the one I had in 2006 on my right shoulder: That one entailed a slightly cracked humerus. This one is fractured along several planes.
Eventually, this, too, shall pass. In the meantime I wish all of you a Happy Easter!
I’m on the Mend!
I hope these knitted bones tell you something. Okay, I still can’t drive, and my left arm is still in a sling; but I can buckle and unbuckle my seat belt, put on my socks as well as all my other clothing (though I still can’t tie my shoes). On Thursday of this week, I get a new set of X-Rays at Santa Monica UCLA Hospital and —hopefully—the go ahead for the next steps forward, including losing the sling, starting physical therapy, and maybe even driving.
For the last two weeks I have taken the bus to and from work. At first, I was afraid that I would fall and injure myself even more severely. The good news is that UCLA has been closed for spring break, but that ends soon; and I hate to rely on the good will of strangers for a seat near an exit.
More good news: My computer is fixed! My friend Mike came by yesterday and installed the new UPS (uninterrupted power supply) unit and fired up my machine.
I’m beginning to feel something like a human being again.
My Blogs Will Be Back Soon
With luck, my home computer will be back online tomorrow. As for tonight, I’ll just ice my shoulders, thank you! I’m not having much of a pain problem with my fracture—except when I’m trying to sleep. Then it throbs and various pains emerge along my arms and legs. Not at all pleasant! A week from today, the orthopedist will see me again and rule on my progress, if any.
Original French Poster
Because of my broken shoulder, I took today off from work. (Tomorrow, I’ll work half a day and see the orthopedic surgeon in the afternoon.)
Fortunately, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel was playing Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 Le Salaire de la Peur (better known in the U.S. as Wages of Fear). In the whole history of cinema, there are relatively few action films that can hold their own with the classics. Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai is one of them, and I can think of several Westerns, including Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch and Howard Hawks’s Rio Bravo that are real action classics. Think of Wages of Fear as France’s contribution to the genre.
Starring Yves Montand, the film is set in some unspecified Latin American country in which there is an oil well fire. The American Southern Oil Company hires four foreign drifters to drive two trucks full of nitroglycerin over horrendous washboarded roads on the theory that at least one of the trucks will make it. They are to drive half hour apart in case one of the trucks explodes.
Along the route, they meet a number of obstacles that up the excitement level to the boiling point. These include a sharp right turn forcing them to back over a half-finished bridge full of rotten boards, a huge boulder in the middle of the road, and crossing a huge puddle of petroleum formed when a pipeline is ruptured.
There were two remakes, including a fairly decent one by directed William Friedkin called The Sorcerer (1977) with Roy Scheider. But the French original is much better.
Yechhhh! I Did It Again!
I went halfway around the world in 2006 to break my right shoulder by slipping on the ice in Ushuaia in Argentina’s Tierra Del Fuego. Last night, I did it again—this time to my left shoulder—right across the street from where I live in West Los Angeles. Last week, the city had scraped off the surface asphalt from the street in order to lay down a fresh layer, eventually. Unfortunately, the street surface was wildly uneven, and it was dark. While returning from a Persian restaurant across the street with my friends Bob and Suzanne, I stepped off the curb all right but missed the second step-down. My body twisted and I fell down hard on the street.
Fortunately, my head did not make contact either with the street or a nearby parked car, but my left knee and right hand got bruised. Suzanne, who is a nurse, immediately suggested I go to emergency; and they kindly drove me to the ER at Santa Monica UCLA Hospital.
Tomorrow morning, I will have to make an appointment with an orthopedist. Although my left shoulder is disrupted in several different directions and I may require surgery, the pain level is tolerable. I won’t be able to drive for a few weeks. Actually, my bruised knee bothers me more than the shoulder; and I’ll have to have that looked at as well. (In the ER, as Suzanne explained it, my shoulder trauma prevented my knee pain from throbbing .)
So it goes.