The boy was probably about fourteen, but he threw the ball so hard it curved. You had to read the curve. Hitting someone in the head was not allowed. He hit me in the head twice. I got to stay in, but my understanding of the rule was that he should be out. In the subsequent games I watched my nephew play, the kid with the fastball always threw at the biggest guy on the other team, because that was what was fun for him, and when there were no big kids left, he’d underhand it. If he would’ve beaned one of those kids in the head, I suspect that yes, he would’ve been out. You weren’t supposed to hit people hard in the stomach/torso area either, but when you can throw the ball that fast, so fast it doesn’t stay straight but obeys the magnus effect, it’s not so easy to adjust your aim by a few inches this way or that. After I’d already hurt myself and was just watching my nephew play, the kid whipped one at a big kid in the opposite corner of the trampoline arena, but it curved, and just stepping out from behind his target was a very competitive ten-year-old who was a little stocky but regularly one of the last kids still in. He took it in the pills, dead-on. Everybody ooohed. The boy went down, embarrassed. The teenager ran over to check on him. He didn’t mean to do it. He was only throwing at the big kids that hard.
If I’d watched a game or two before playing, I probably wouldn’t have thought he was picking on me when every fastball he threw had my name on it. But I did. I mean I tried not to, but he just kept winging them at me, twice hitting me in the dome and knocking my cap off. So I calmly kept throwing at him, if that was the game, getting the other team’s best player out, it’s not personal, no. But I kept throwing harder, and then harder, and then I thought I saw an opening as he glanced away to pick up a ball, and I threw super hard, and the ball of my shoulder dislodged itself from the socket, and I freaked out and fell over.
I mean, internally I was freaking out. Externally, no one was sure why I immediately stood back up and dashed off, as fast as one can dash on a floor made of trampolines. More like cantered. I cantered off, and my sister was standing there and said something to effect of Are you hurt for real? and as I started to explain My shoulder’s out, I lifted my arm up as high as I could, remembering the Czech Republic and the hours I had to wait until they agreed to pop my shoulder back in and envisioning myself there at last admitted behind closed doors of the emergency room and the instantaneous relief of feeling my arm rejoin the rest of my body concert and I thought about the angle they had to put my arm into in order to snap it back in place and I tried not to think about how it took two doctors and the shredded remains of my Morphine t-shirt they wrapped around my upper arm for one doctor to hold as he pulled one direction and the other doctor pulled the other no no no don’t think about that think about the angle, I raised my arm up higher, knowing the pain was as yet not unbearable but remembering how unbearable it ultimately became, raised it up and in mid-sentence of my description of my injury to my sister, my shoulder slid back into place.
Last time, fourteen years ago, after my shoulder was out of socket for six hours, they put me in a sling and said keep it immobilized for a month. I spent the last three weeks of my Czech Republic trip wearing my forearm strapped against my stomach like a fanny pack. When I got back to the states and started physical therapy they said I should’ve never done that, at least, not for that long. My range of motion took months to return. Lots of pulling on big rubber bands. This time I wanted that sling so badly but Walgreens didn’t have the fanny pack kind, just the over-the-shoulder kind, which would be worthless for my intended purposes, falling asleep, as I have woken up before from horrible detached-arm dreams only to find my arm dangling at a weird angle over the side of the mattress. I wanted the immediate comfort of immobilization, and only when I got to Walgreens did I remember the advice that immobilization was not necessarily the best course of action.
When I went to bed, I lulled myself to sleep on my left side for the first time in years, hoping if I hugged myself into a tight enough fetal position I wouldn’t roll over in the middle of the night and undo myself again. Usually, I start on my right side and only switch to my left when I get uncomfortable, much later. Often not at all. Both times I did it before, I had been in sleep-on-my-right-side phases, and both times I had to re-learn to sleep on my left. I told myself, it’s cool. I got this. I’ve done this before.
But you don’t have to reassure yourself if you aren’t afraid in the first place. I fell asleep afraid. My arm hurt, and not just in my shoulder. I remembered how in the Olomouc hospital how first my shoulder hurt, than after a couple hours my entire arm hurt, and by hour six it was rolling spasms of pain that I couldn’t isolate to just here or there. So spreading pain was an irksome symptom. I said to myself, it’s fine, the ibuprofen will kick in soon. The pain won’t spread any further. I fell asleep in willful denial. It wasn’t that hard. Most nights I have to debate myself to sleep, convince myself that all the thinks trying to be thunk don’t need thunk right now. Most nights I have to pretend I’m somewhere else, someone else, doing something else. This was not that different.
That’s not exactly true, about how I usually fall asleep. Sometimes, yes, I do astral-project completely outside myself and my current body, I do listen to my white-noise box fan and pretend it’s the steady hum of the engine outside my window on the 747 and I’m flying just after sunset to somewhere way out west, or over the ocean, and this noise I’m hearing now I’ll be hearing for the next five hours, unceasing and unaltered. Other times I get very meta, go very deep inside my own experience. It’s the surface thoughts, the writer thoughts, that need tamed.
I don’t mind it. I’m used to it.
Recently my sister posted a link to a Joe Rogan webisode about how depression might not be the chemical imbalance we’ve all been told it is by big pharma. She said it was a must-hear. I didn’t listen to it. Most debates I am interested in hearing both sides. Not this one. Depression feeds on doubt. If I start thinking my medicine is a placebo, it becomes a placebo, and eventually ineffective. For the past two days I’ve had to fight off defeatist, dark thoughts, which I think are a hangover from the deep fear of the intense pain I’d experienced in the past. I’ve been cleaning pretty much all day because if I give myself a spare moment on the couch it isn’t long before I find myself thinking about dying. I’m not afraid anymore. I’ve got about 80% normal range of motion back already, and after using my arm all day it is a little sore, but mostly I haven’t even thought about it. The fear is gone. But my brain chemicals haven’t caught up yet. I’m still out of whack. I forgot to eat lunch for about four hours today, not that I was keeping all that busy or anything, it just didn’t seem important.
I’ve been watching comfort movies for background noise all day, because if I were to allow myself, I know I could close my eyes, point my mind in a particular direction, I suspect downward, towards the pit of my stomach, to my core, and I would start to cry in a matter of seconds. Right now it’s Wayne’s World, my favorite movie to watch with friends when I was about twelve. Before this it was The Sword in the Stone, my favorite movie to watch, period, from the ages of about six to ten. Whenever I was given a choice to watch something, I’d pick our taped-from-cable copy of The Sword in the Stone, complete with the absurd eight-minute commercial breaks of WGN in like 1988. I turned it on today because it was comforting to think that now that I’m an adult, I can treat myself to certain things, I have certain choices.
This is what depression is, or whatever the fuck is going on in my particular head. It is recognition of the situation, and taking action. Maybe that’s what the Joe Rogan webisode was about. Recognizing the cause of your blue feelings and doing something to address the real-world cause. I’ve heard that one before. Depression isn’t real, you’re just poor, and your wife left you. That’s why you’re sad, ya jerk. Get more money and get another wife. Also, go exercise. Pills won’t help, they’ll just lock you into the cycle, keep you where you are.
I wanted to write about this because this scenario seems pretty perfect for demonstrating my own personal chemical imbalance theory. My brain does not balance itself well. It’s been two days, dammit. I’m having a two-day reaction to a ten-second dislocation. I don’t think it’ll be over tomorrow, either.
Think I’m going to watch Deadpool now. And eat pizza. Before the medication, I used to go the opposite direction. I used to watch sad movies and wait around in the darkness. But even if I can’t turn on the lights, I can imagine myself in a different place, in a different body. I don’t have to be the depressed lump in bed all day. I can pretend to be a good husband, a responsible adult, who keeps up with his job and his life and who follows his sports teams and responds to emails and looks for jobs. It’s not me. Not right now. But it’s a reasonable facsimile and it’ll get me through the night.