How I Came to Need a Joint Replacement

I was having a good day. My day began with my picking up an order of bubble wrap in a VW Type 2 transporter and ended up in the emergency room at The Eliot.

In the year 2007 I wrecked my beloved Yamaha XS 750 Special while on my way to Concord, NH for some business and a lunch. I have never had an accident when I’ve been doing something foolish with my bike, my collisions occur when I’m obeying the traffic law. This time it was a young man with an armful of girl on the way to the lake to enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon. He turned in front of me and stopped, I left 17 feet of rear wheel brake stripe and flew over his mom’s car. I tumbled ferociously because of a rucksack full of metal gadget boxes I was going to wrap for shipment to their new owner. I survived but sad to say the gadget boxes did not. Neither did my rucksack. Ambulance technicians just can’t wait to use those sharp shears.

Fast forward to 2010, and it’s the end of summer I’m happy because I was able to finish some repairs on a customer’s 1951 Plymouth. Now I’ve been living with a cracked humerous because it refused to heal after the 2007 collision, so that’s been limiting what I can do with my right arm. I’m happy as a clam, I’ve had a good full day, there’s a full moon in the sky and I want to drive the Plymouth back to its owner’s home providing I can get a ride back to the garage.

The temperature is about 40 degrees F so I walk up to the house to use the telephone and warm up my leathers in front of the wood stove. I know the way in the dark. The lawn is known to be smoother with no rocks or tree limbs in the way and I set off at a normal walking pace through shadows cast by the trees in the moonlight. The next thing I know I’ve hooked my left instep under something and I’m falling forward. And I’m falling over stuff. I hit the ground and hear that snap and the world is white with pain. I know that snap but I’ve never felt pain this bad so I concentrate on what I can do and what’s important, breath in, breath out and heartbeat. Okay, so far so good. I still hurt but I can think now and I realize that I’m entangled in a rotary push lawnmower. I roll a little bit and the lawnmower disentangles itself from me and I lie there for a moment with my right arm up in the air. The arm still hurts a lot and once I catch my breath again I slowly pull my right arm across my chest. Oh this isn’t good but I can get to my feet and I head for the house again, enter and call for attention. Bob comes down and helps me out of my jacket and helmet and I try and figure out what I just did to myself.
Up stairs, I stand around until Jim finished his shower and I ask Bob to help me with my tee shirt. checking front and back on the mirror I don’t see anything sticking out of place so my current working hypothesis is a dislocated shoulder that re-set itself when I pulled my arm across my chest from the statue of liberty pose I was in right after the great lawnmower collision. So Ii did what any normal sane person would do, I accepted an invitation for a slice of pizza and a beer while I waited for my shoulder to settle back in place so that I could ride my motorcycle home in the dark. Well after an hour, I asked if the offer of a ride home was still open because let’s face it, these are good guys but they have real jobs in the real world and need to get up and going in the morning. Jim said sure and he carried my stuff down to the garage, I managed to arrange myself in the car beginning to think that maybe my arm was hurt worse than a dislocation. Jim made me put on my seat-belt.

When we got to my condo in Manchester, Jim asked with a smile if I wanted him to go in and smooth the way. I couldn’t do that to him again. In 2007 Jim drove down to Manchester, found Lynn, drove Lynn up to the Hospital in concord to see me and then home again. So, no thank you, I’ll do this one myself. Two years later Lynn still says “Art’s friends just dropped him on the doorstep and ran.” I managed to get inside the building and onto the condo and stood at the back of the room. Lynn got up and looked me over and said “what’s up?” I tried to talk my way into my firm comfy bed so that I could get some sleep and think about =what to do next. Lynn asked difficult questions like, Where are your leathers? Where’s your bike? How did you get home? And when I couldn’t come up with anything other than that I couldn’t lift my right arm to work the throttle on my bike and Jim gave me a ride home all Lynn could say was that he was taking me to the hospital.
Nobody likes to wait in the waiting room but waiting is a good thing. Now this is 9:00 PM and The Eliot is on night-time protocol and fairly well locked down. The clerk behind the glass just looks at me and takes me next. I’m looking for a free chair in the waiting area and I’m being led into the triage area. After a polite conversation with a nice young man I’m in the emergency room. Trust me, this isn’t good. The orthopedic doctor on call tells me that I have a clean break and gives me a sling to wear home but there’s something about his recommendation that I get an independent orthopedic consultation that rings a bell in my somewhat battered mind. The next day I ask Lynn to drive me down to the clinic because I don’t like to use the telephone and I wanted to talk to the office staff before I started looking for an orthopedic doctor.

The triage nurse took one look at me in line, asked what I’d done and if there were any x-ray photographs. I told her what I’d done and that there had been 3 x-rays taken at The Eliot. I found out later that she hit the telephones like a tiger on my behalf and didn’t stop until she had an appointment scheduled for me with an orthopedic surgeon who would take the clinic’s payment plan.

I ended up at the Eliot under the care of Eliot Orthopedic’s Dr. Parisian. He did this to me:

Thank you very much Doctor. There are some things I can’t do, but there are so many things that I can. Without your skill and the compassionate care at the Eliot, I know that I wouldn’t have the use of my right arm at all. With all you’ve done for me, well, the arthritis in my left arm bothers me more than the device in my right.

About Art

55 years old. By training, ability and experience I am a master toolmaker. My most recent projects include designing and building a process to grind a G rotor pump shaft with four diameters and holding all four diameters within plus or minus 4 microns of nominal. This was an automated process using two centerless grinders refitted to my specifications using automatic load and unload machines plus automatic feedback gauging. I also designed and built an inspection machine to check for the presence and size of a straight knurl on a hinge pin using a vision system for non-contact gauging.
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