My fire captain husband, Eddie, was injured on duty over a year ago. (I must first explain that being injured on duty doesn’t always mean in the act of actual fire fighting. For Ed if meant, simply put, that he underestimated the space between where his office chair was and where he thought it was. No doubt only because he was concentrating on the endless stream of firefighter paperwork.
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His first course of action was to see our favorite local chiropractor, Dr. Good. (Dr. Good has asked me never to mention him in a column at every one of my visits. He forgot to tell Eddie that that applied to his visits too.) Dr. Good tweaked him this way and that while telling a countless stream of “Eve” jokes. Ed decided that he now felt much better. When the pain in his right shoulder permeated his skull a few days later he made an appointment with a local orthopedist.
Muscle relaxors and pain relievers were prescribed that, not unlike others in his trade, he refused to take so that he wouldn’t have to miss any work. But luckily he is now doing a two-year stint in “special duty” at the medical liaison unit. The shift, unlike 24-hour “platoon” duty, affords him a desk job and countless opportunities to meet the city’s best surgeons.
Fast-forward to now, a year later, another orthopedist and an actual diagnosis. Ed will require slap (or flap) surgery on his torn rotator cuff (or cup). (Did someone out there assume that I might be a good listener? Forget it!) Anyhoo, surgery is scheduled for this week. Actually, by the time you read this Ed will have been home one out of the two weeks his surgeon has suggested, so far, for healing.
Ed’s upper body, never comparable to that of Russell Crowe’s in Gladiator, has, as Eddie says, “wasted away”. His feeling of wasting away will be replaced soon enough with muscle strain and fatigue. And even though his upper body may have to be “rejuvenated” Ed is not a stranger to exercise.
Ed’s disheartenment with his current physique and stamina comes from years of being in shape. Of course he didn’t start out that way. In high school, when being on the fire department was the cool job his then girlfriend’s father had, he tipped the scales at a whopping 120 pounds! But the idea of camaraderie, physical fitness and getting away without a daily shower appealed to Ed. He started his newfound exercise regime by running. Olympiad looking medals and T-shirts from countless marathons followed by swim meets soon followed.
And soon after that came cycling. I have Ironman Triathlon photographs adorning my living from not one but two Hawaiian races. (The Hawaiian triathlon was the first to be called “Ironman” and included a 2.4 mile ocean swim, a 121-mile bike ride and then followed up, on the same day, with a 26.2 mile marathon run. Sometimes we call the 26.2 mile a walk/jog/run to the finish line so that you won’t be embarrassed for years to come in the final photographs.) When he met his first triathlon challenge I figured that he was done with competitive sports. Especially when he had finally attained his dream of becoming a firefighter.
But with the fire department he continued his physical challenges by joining the Swift Water Rescue Team, Urban Search and Rescue Team, Tyrolian (or Australian) rappelling and had worked, on his days of, as a LA County Lifeguard. Last summer was the first that he couldn’t swim as his rescue skills were compromised by his shoulder injury.
So he’s been wasting away. Unable to do the things that he loves for over a year. I’ve suggested different forms of “stress relief” only guessing at his stress level because he, not unlike the others of his ranks, doesn’t complain about discomfort. And now that the surgery is just days away I know that a new level of stress, outside of the pain, has taken over. Because Ed will be going under the “knife”, going under general anesthesia and going under the assumption that he can trust his surgeon.
These are three little things that my baby has never had to face. And, being a firefighter, once again, knows just a tad too much of what to expect, what can go wrong and how crappy he’ll be feeling afterwards.
I’ve tried my best to keep him happy by not embarrassing him on this subject of an entire year! I’ve kept my house relatively clean! I’ve cooked over a dozen meals! I scheduled massages with Theo at Cosmetic Concepts without his asking for them!
But do you want to hear something funny? Our five-year-old daughter Samantha hasn’t much of a clue about his shoulder! Because from day one he still lifts her into the air! He still lets her lead him to the Disney store by tugging on his bad arm! He even lets her jump up and down on his prone body, every weekend morning in our bed, giving his stomach muscles the only workout that they’ve seen in a year, without ever uttering a single complaint!
A few weeks ago there was a thread on the TITTS about what firefighters are all about. Hopefully, between my jests, you know now for yourself! They’re the tireless men and women that don’t complain, that set and meet their goals and keep on truckin’ for you. Thank god that I’ve got one at home!