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What I did on my summer vacation

People reading my Twitter presence may have noted that I exhibited a
slight obsession with pain and painkillers (characterized by one
person in particular as "whining") from the end of August through most
of September. Someone finally asked me what precipitated my new-found
passion for Advil by the handful, and having come clean in the social
networking districts,
I figure it's about time I mentioned it on my
blogs too. This is my gruesome story.

To get right to it: On August 12, I got thrown off my bike on Martha's
Vineyard and broke my left shoulder, specifically, my left humeral

We were headed back to our rental house in the late afternoon after a
ride out to Morning Glory Farm for some sweet corn and baked goods. MV
has a great network of bike paths, and we were riding through the
State Forest. Leslie recently got a new bike, and so she was up ahead
a bit seeing what it could do, while Daniel and I were moving along a
bit more slowly behind her. We had ridden about 16 miles total at this
point, and he was beginning to tire. I was hanging back with him,
encouraging him to keep up and telling him that we didn't have too much
longer to go. We were probably about 4-5 miles from the house at this
point. I was looking forward to getting back to the house, taking a
long outdoor shower, and then drinking a beer in the hammock before we
went to dinner.

While I was thinking about this I had dropped back behind him a few
yards, and he slowed a bit. I think we were moving about 10mph or so
at the time. As he did, his back wheel brushed my front. I tried to
slow further and asked him to pick it up a bit. At the same time, I
started getting worried that he was going to go down, so I turned to
the left to get clear of his wheel. As I did so his bumped mine, and I
was thrown from the bike.

I tried to roll as I fell, and I landed right on top of my left
shoulder. When I hit, I felt a distinct "pop" in my shoulder and
immediately knew I was in trouble. I skidded about another 5 ft on the
tarmac, getting some pretty bad elbow road rash, and finally came to a

Fortunately, Daniel had not fallen and was unaware that I had, so both
he and Leslie were about 200 yards down the path. I could see some
pretty nasty rash on the side of my knee, so I tried to sit up to get
a better look at it. However there was intense pain every time I
attempted to move my left arm. I yelled to Leslie and Daniel to come
back and that I thought I had broken my arm.

As it eventually turned out, I had broken my shoulder and fortunately,
there was only a small displacement. The impact had actually impaled the "stick" of the bone on the spongy "ball," stabilizing it and
making what I was later told would have been difficult, painful surgery unnecessary.

What was less fortunate was that this happened on the second day of
our annual 2 week vacation on the Vineyard. The doctor who treated me
in the ER was certain that the local orthopedist was going to send me
back to NY post haste to get some pins put in. Fortunately, the
orthopedist told me that it looked like I'd lucked out and wouldn't
need surgery; he also recommended that I stay around another week so
that he could take a look at it again. As it was, we did end up going
home about half a week early.

I'm in the fourth week or so of physical therapy now, which is going
well, though quite painful. I have not really slept well since the
accident. Most nights I wake at about 3am or so, trying to find a
relatively comfortable position for my arm. This happens consistently
despite the wide range of various pharmaceuticals I have been
prescribed. My physical therapist told me this week that shoulder
injuries are some of the most painful and difficult to recover from,
and that I'm probably in for another month or so of pain and
discomfort before I really start to feel better. If I can get through
that time without completely collapsing of exhaustion, I'll be a very
happy man.

UPDATE: I wanted to mention one other thing. The EMTs on Martha's Vineyard were extraordinarily nice and helpful. They got the ambulance onto a bikepath in the middle of the forest. They kept me reasonably calm and very well-informed during the entire time on the bikepath, which was remarkable since they decided to collar me and strap me to the board for safety's sake. Everyone was extremely professional and a credit to their professions.

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I'm sorry you had such an awful experience on our island. Hopefully, next year will be better!


I'm already looking forward to next August. We've been coming every summer since 1989. My son's even been on MV in August in utero. We'll be back. Thanks for commenting. BTW, the EMT and police on the island were incredible. SO kind, caring, and considerate to both myself and my poor hysterical son.

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