I have these kickass VHS videos I used to watch constantly as a young teenager, where Stan Lee hosted drawing sessions with various artists, spouting forth tips and tricks and that trademark Stan Lee alliteration. At the time Image comics was booming onto the scene, and most young fanboys like myself wanted desperately for any advice on how to break into the biz.
Anyway, one of the best points made was by Jim Lee in his video, talking about the production aspects of comics, relating to how quickly you really have to work to produce a 22 page comic in a month’s time.
To paraphrase, “Imagine yourself as the director. You have an unlimited budget, unlimited scope, the best actors, the best props, the best everything. Your one constraint is time.”
So I was sitting here at work, zoning out and that little parable hit me like a ton of bricks. Just as I try to consciously apply my system of order and chaos on grander and grander scales, so too must I expand my metaphors to cover grander and grander topics.
As so that’s how it is for this life as well. You are the director, and the world is your stage. You can do anything you want, anything you can think of. You have the godlike power to help shape and create your own reality.
Only catch is, you’ve got a short and unsure timeline, unknown to even yourself. There are no re-shoots, no promotions, no trailers, no awards. Just you and your art.
Well damn, it’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to post to this blog ever since the year anniversary of the plate removal in September. It will be 2 years this September 15 th since the second surgery, and while I’m much improved from 2 years ago, I am still struggling with problems that I have come to accept will most likely never go away.
Long story short; the plate came out Sept 15 th 2004 , the next few days are a blur now, but I remember waking up to having feeling in my hand again, and continued on with the rehab and recovery. I did as much rehab as I could, trying to push myself, but otherwise took it easy. I had to quit my band to have some extended time to heal, and began freelancing again, eventually landing a full time gig at an ad agency here in Dallas. I now do graphics for online games, drum in the band again, and continually try to find ways to improve and manage my chronic pain.
Getting laid off right before the surgery prevented me from doing as much physical therapy as I would have liked, so I had to keep up on myself to do it. Over time I’ve picked up the range of motion exercises, as well as yoga, and light weight training to keep my shoulder and arm active. I’m currently working on changing my diet and eating healthier. Honestly, I’ve been slacking lately on the exercises, but have taking up drumming again (something I couldn’t do 2 years ago), as well as running to keep my endurance up. So far my symptoms haven’t worsened, thankfully; it’s just not as easy as is used to be. But nothing worth doing is I suppose.
I’ve still got some tingling in my index finger, a side effect of either nerve damage or TOS, as well as back and neck pain. The right side of my neck stays pretty tight, and I have to continually stretch and exercise to loosen and tone it. The severe pain in my shoulder blade was replaced with a much subdued uncomfortable-ness whenever I have to sit against a hard surface or a shitty office chair. The shooting bicep pain has pretty much vanished, as have most of the sharp or unexpected ones that used to hit me out of nowhere.
I’m pretty sure my clavicle is a bit shorter than it should be however, that or my musculature has just been deformed a bit at the surgery site, as I know have a “dimple” where the new union is, in part to the bone not being as thick in that spot. When Dr. Philip Hansen (avoid this man) installed the original plate, he overlapped the bone too much, so now I have symptoms of nerve damage and TOS, even though the plate is out.
Unfortunately my current insurance is quite shitty, and I’m having trouble getting in to see Dr. Burkhead about the problems that have yet to resolve, but am diligently working on it and will have an update about it as soon as it happens.
All in all I feel better than I did, but looking back I might have opted to not have any surgeries at all had I known the outcome would be a lifetime of nerve damage and chronic pain. Thankfully I can at least play drums again, and hold a paintbrush, something I really couldn’t once Dr. Hansen fucked up the install.
I hope to keep updating this blog, both as an outlet for myself and hopefully as a resource for others who suffer through this. I’ve said it before and will again, this is a debilitating condition, a disease almost, coupled with a healthcare system that doesn’t deal well with the root causes of chronic pain. It’s ironic that 3 generations of my family have now suffered some type of shoulder injury leading to nerve damage and thoracic outlet syndrome. My grandfather passed away long ago from cancer that developed in his lungs following an invasive operation to remove his rib. My father is worse than me but also a lot tougher, and is dealing with his pain as best he can. I hope to get him to start writing about the subject as well.
OriginalJohnny, if you’re out there, look me up man. I lost my addy’s in a hard drive crash but would like to hear how you’re doing.