An unfortunate event at the docks turn segue into a transformative night.
December 01, 2017
Awaking eager and feeling refreshed, I was coursing through this dive morning exceptionally well. I had a good attitude, I was alert, awake and excited about the coming weekend with plenty of work, fun and memories to be had. Upon a single tank cart being loaded, I went to fetch another. As I spun it around, I slipped off the edge of the curb and took a fall. I caught myself with my left forearm and had the instant hot flash of an injury becoming present.
but they had already seen the top of my shoulder pressing out and could now see a large divot in my arm where the rotator cuff normally sits.
I sat for a second to register how much pain there was and a throbbing wave came in letting me know that, yep, this one was serious. It did not subside and I started to wonder at the severity of it. Some crew members from the neighboring boat caught sight of the whole thing and instantly rushed to my side, affirming that I did indeed take a nasty spill. They were noticing the shoulder that I was holding. I pulled on the sleeve of my t-shirt, but they had already seen the top of my shoulder pressing out and could now see a large divot in my arm where the rotator cuff normally sits. I said, "Well thats not good!" and the owner of the other dive operation immediately came to assist suggesting we try and get it back in or I go to the ER.
I let them all offer their ideas for how to possibly get it back in, or possibly injure myself further, but the fact was, it was not going back in. The pain at this time wasn't unbearable, but I was losing mobility and needed to get with my other crew member about figuring out how he wouldn't be left holding the 'dive' bag. The person there helping offered to drive me to the emergency room and we were off. He's a, been there done that, kind of guy as he too recently took a visit to the ER via trauma hawk when a shark mistakenly bit his hand and left what was described as a waterfall of blood coming forth from a dangling forearm. (Don't you dare blame the shark for what happened to him either!) The check in was simple as I didn't have to answer too many questions since I had my shirt off and the arm was clearly dislocated.
Enter the Waiting Room..
The sat me in a room and the uncomfortableness of it all began to grow. I told them initially I was at a level 5 for pain and they looked at me like wow, you're either super tough or delirious. My reasoning was I wanted to reserve a good chunk of the pain scale for any future hurts and thought I should keep this one today a tad lower if I could. Although, that five was starting to haunt me. The longer the shoulder was out of the socket, the more those stretched tendons began to hurt and leave me with no viable position to keep the arm in where it was not utterly nauseating. The doctor sat down and went over options for either mild or full sedation to get the body to relax so he could fix it. As we talked he held my arm and massaged it and I knew he was seeing if he could coax it back in gently, perhaps without any further equipment. It wasn't going though because my shoulder was too tight, and I was resisting the movement due to strength and pain. He then got really excited and said, "Oh, we do have a new nitrous oxide machine and that would be just Lovely!"
They left me for awhile to grimace and regret ever saying my pain was at a 5 and finally the nurse came back to say they needed to take X-rays to make sure there weren't any fractures before resetting it. They said I could walk to X-ray room or maybe they could bring in the portable one... Or maybe I could get into a wheel chair and they could... I said, "Where is this room? Just point to it and I will get myself there if we can just go, NOW!"
"Oh, we do have a new nitrous oxide machine and that would be just Lovely!"
I feebly held my dangling, stretched-out arm as I made my way through winding corridors feeling fainter and dizzier the further we went. Managed to have a little fun with the radiology girls and was lead back to my room for more waiting. It had been over an hour since I had fell. At this point, I couldn't sit. I couldn't stand. I could have beat my head against the cabinets, but I was getting wobbly and really needed to change my pain answer. I wasn't able to breathe well because I was scrunched over so hard my rib cage was collapsed onto itself. Finally, I see the happy gas being wheeled my way. ALRIGHT! They gave me a face mask to breathe through and now suddenly I had a room full of people to witness the new machine work its magic.
I jokingly remarked, "Before, there was nobody. Now, I got a room full!" To which the doctor replied, "Well the room full of nurses might have something to do with you and your shirt being off. Or hey, maybe they just like seeing people get tortured."
As I thought about which one it was, I sucked in hard on the gas and said I didnt like the mask. An excited nurse said there's a mouthpiece and the crowd in unison all cheered, "Get him the mouthpiece!!" So they swapped it out and the nurse handed it to me with instructions of sucking on it like a pipe making a little pop sound at the end of her sentence. We all laughed and I started taking heavy hits on the pipe feeling the body going numb and my voice growing deeper. The doctor insisted I keep going, but I knew I was already at a point capable of tolerating the pain.
He gave me two shots in the shoulder to loosen up the muscle and went back to the position of holding my arm, folded at a ninety degree angle and facing him. Keeping pressure on the outside of the elbow, he used his body to slowly turn the forearm outwards, forcing the rotator cuff to swing and go beneath the scapula.
He kept insisting I stay with the gas, but I'd had enough. I wanted to focus on breathing and relaxing. Sensing the body to know when it was back in. I then noticed that there was a teeny bit of responsiveness in the shoulder and I said, "Hey Doc, I think it's in." He said, "I don't think all the way," and kept turning and massaging until he was content it was back in fully. He abruptly returned my folded arm back across my chest and only then did I let out a hollar. They laughed and took away the voodoo gas from my clenched fist. I thanked them all as they dispersed.
Last step was to set me up with a real cushy, swaddled arm sling. I was instructed to wear the sling for a week and be gentle on the arm while it mended for at least two.
Transformational Breath Class #1..
That night, attending the fabled breath-work class, I was clueless for what to expect. I assumed it would be more meditative since it was about breathing, but I was far from it. It's more about energy migrations and releases. It began with a circle for the twelve of us to center ourselves and then share who we were and what our intention was. As we did so the instructor gave feedback about how to possibly enhance, broaden or specify our intentions. Mine was to become more present by letting go. He asked if I wanted to clear anything and I said yes I had addictions I wanted to let go of.
He gave a very good introduction about the process and what we might experience which definitely helped guide me along. Due to the shoulder injury I was already a little tingly. The breathing was a different, more diaphragm orientated style to which I noticed right away I was accustomed to using a more chest-centric style. The idea was to pump as much oxygen through which meant breathing through the mouth was more efficient than the refining methods of nose inhalations. A lot of the focus and intention was given to the inhale and then quickly discard the exhale to go again for another big, gasping breath in. It's more physical and active than I had originally thought the night was going to be.
He left me to go work on the others as the sounds of driving music and loud rhythmic breathing filled the space.
You work in a laying down position and the facilitators will move around to either raise your legs, head or leave you flat to help engage the breathing more. The breaths were cold and causing my mouth to become dry. He came over and rolled me a little bit and put his hand on my diaphragm to accentuate where to breathe. He said to push against it and I felt sudden stings of pain there. He said keep moving it and breathing through it. He rolled me a bit on my side and found other areas near my spleen that had pain as well. He left me to go work on the others as the sounds of driving music and loud rhythmic breathing filled the space.
Another part of the process can be to do what's called "toning" where you let out an elongated sound. Not quite a hum, not quite an om, not quite a yell. Just a sound that helps with the release. As I felt the body becoming completely numb and tingling, I was bordering on paralysis. I couldn't push past and suddenly just broke out into heavy sobs. I cried so fully I thought I was shaking the ground. It was a huge, huge release and I kept going because I could feel the letting go happening and the energy moving through me. I felt a radiating light emanate from around my head and I could feel the resonance singing all through me. After I caught my breath and returned to the breathing pattern I did a few of the sounds and felt my resonance there in the room. It was authentic and my own. I felt good about it. I went deep into my heart and felt the Loving warmth all around me as I recovered from the huge release.
The music changed and towards the end, as it became softer, I cried some more still feeling that need for release. I felt huge amounts of fear of how to let go and the crying seemed to dissipate or answer that fear. I felt vulnerable and strong all at the same time. I was proud of myself for letting go.
After we finished I shared with the room my experience and a few others shared of theirs as well. One person had a very physical experience and another had left her body a few times. I very much appreciate the safe, community space that is created by sharing openly what we encountered.