Saturday, September 3, 2011
Skate or Die, Dude.
I've been thinking for awhile that I really wish I could look inside my body. I not talking about any scope or imaging technique, I'm thinking about actually peeling back the layers and looking at stuff. I look back through my life and for the most part, I've been engaged with some sort of damage inducing activity -- that is, more than just the everyday life toll. When I was a wee lad, I really loved playing soccer and I played on a team for a number of years (4, maybe 6 or 7 years perhaps) and I can remember a few booboos incurred during those Sunday afternoon games. Then I started to fall in love with basketball and I played that all the time. I remember being on a middle school team that took a trip down to Coos Bay, which is on the southern Oregon Coast. In one of the first games I crumpled to the ground after a large pop from what most likely was a dislocation of my patella tendon. Ouch. But up until then, my exploits were nothing more than the expected bumps and bruises that are to be expected. Then, I found skateboarding, which was an all consuming passion for the next 10 years or so. In fact, even now I'll still think about things in terms of being a skateboarder. I notice the quality of concrete and asphalt wherever I go, I look at stairs, rails, ledges and embankments as if I still had a skateboard in my trunk, ready to go. I even dream about skateboarding, albeit much less than I used to. To be clear, especially these days, with so many people pushing around on those long-boards, I would have never been caught dead on one of those, and still won't If I can't ollie up a curb or kickflip on it, I don't want to be on it. Whatever though, I begrudge them less than I do rollerbladers, but all of this is tangential to my point. As soon as I started riding a skateboard, I began to destroy parts of my body. Even to this day, my wrists, ankles, palms of my hands, left hip and elbows are weakened and noticeably hampered either by asymptomatic scar tissue or hindered range of motion. I can remember joking in my teenage years, saying that I will "regret this stuff when I get old." Due to the loss of range of motion and specific angles of strength, I'm convinced that I am not able to spin 360 kickflips (regular stance, not that I ever had them down switchstance, but at least I could spin the board . . .) because of damage to my right ankle. Oh well.
Of course, snowboarding took it's toll on my body as well. Off the top of my head, I can think of 5 left shoulder dislocations and one right shoulder separation. I can think of 3 other left shoulder dislocations off the slopes before I finally had stabilization surgery. After the procedure, I remember being chastised by the nurse during a followup visit because I wasn't keeping my arm in a sling. I told her that it really wasn't hurting any more and that the sling seemed unnecessary. She then printed out the surgeon's notes and had me read them. She pointed to a section where the doctor made notes about massive damage not seen on the X-ray (they didn't have any soft tissue imaging done prior to the surgery) and that he was now concerned that the level of trauma and deterioration to my shoulder may cause massive complications down the road. This was in the actual surgical documentation. Hmm. She then reminded me that all trauma I had incurred over the years had probably severed some nerves, lessening the pain, which was good in a way but obviously very dangerous. So I continued to read how the surgeon had to anchor some muscles in atypical areas and was basically hoping for the best.Thankfully, my left shoulder is in remarkably good shape. Thanks, doc.
I would really like to be able to peel off the layers of muscle and see exactly where he put stuff and then analyze the placements to see how the changed angles affects my range of motion. I'd also like to see my left Greater Trochanter and relive all the times I smashed into the ground off of my skateboard, sometimes from frightening heights. While I'm at it, I'd like to pull apart my knee and look at all the little floating pieces of torn cartilage and the degeneration of the meniscus, reflecting back on all those times I played pickup basketball games on asphalt, wearing skateboarding shoes.
My point here is not that I'm falling apart or anything, because in many ways, I feel like I'm doing great. That being said, I try not to play basketball without stretching and a pair of appropriate shoes. I also don't foresee many 10 stair handrail attacks in my future either. What my point is, is that learning about the human body is one of the best things I've ever had the privilege of doing, and that (just about) every day I am in awe of how this bag of bones actually works. Simple things, such as learning how to do a physical exam and finding where all the different lobes of the lungs are to be found and where to listen for the different heart valve sounds is amazing to me. It puts things like metabolic pathways into perspective, and enables me to stay motivated.