The Most Pain I’ve Ever Experienced

Posted on: 07/1/14 7:07 AM | by Jonathan McKee

my-shoulder“You’re 44-years-old. You know you’re not a kid anymore, right?”

I’ve heard that a dozen times in the last four days. Starting with one of the nurses as I was being rolled out of the ambulance into the ER.

It was somewhere between 30 and 40 feet up. It was a bridge and all the teenagers were jumping off it. I don’t know if “teenagers” is the key word there or “jumping” was the key word. Because I’m not a teenager and I “dove.” Regardless, I dislocated my shoulder. (I wish I had a picture to show you. Grossest thing I’ve seen. It was completely out of the socket.)

“Make sure you check the water for rocks and any obstacles.” I always told my kids. “It’s okay to do something fun and adventurous. Just avoid doing something stupid.”

I was proud of my 16-year-old daughter. “Has anyone checked the depth?” No one had, so my daughter went down and swam to check. We had actually jumped off the same bridge camping the year prior. But you never know if some new obstacles are present.

The water was clear and the kids started jumping.

I dove.

I dove it last year and I’ve dove from heights like this countless times before. But this time I didn’t time it right and my feet started to float a little too far over. I think I overcompensated and tried to throw my hands out further to keep from going over. When I pierced the water my right shoulder was torn back. When I came to the surface I knew something was wrong. Paddling over to the shore I saw my arm hanging… from the wrong place.

Some guys were talking about popping it back in, but my physical therapy buddy said to wait and let the doctor do it.

Waiting was HORRIBLE! I’ve never been in so much pain in my life. So after a long boat ride, ambulance ride and then waiting in the hospital for an x-ray and multiple other preliminaries… they popped it back in. RELEIF!

The last few nights have been restless and uncomfortable. I can’t do anything with my right arm, and it even hurts to type. (You might be seeing some more sporadic blog posts for a while)

Lori has been great. Even though I’m the idiot who brought this on myself, she’s been helping me deal with the consequences.

Yes, I won’t be diving or jumping off any high places again. Not even tempted.

So the bad news. PAIN and humiliation. Plus, I was three weeks from my run, ride, kayak race, and now that’s history.

The good news. I might have a forced vacation for a little while (one with little sleep).

If I only had that moment to rethink that dive. (Yeah, I’ve been replaying that one over and over again…)

Posted in Personal |  | Leave A Comment

7 Replies to “The Most Pain I’ve Ever Experienced”

  1. NNNNnnnnnnoooooooo! Jon, I am so sorry. But… I am proud of you. Life is supposed to be an adventure and you are living it. It was a freak accident. Should never have happened. I will be praying for a complete recovery. But don’t let this incident stop you from living and risking and dreaming. Reminds me of a famous Shakespeare quote, “a coward dies a thousand deaths; a hero but one”. I can’t imagine the pain that you are in now and for the next few months but now you are a legend. You are that guy who wasn’t afraid to do something epic. You are the most interesting youth leader alive: “I don’t always dive from great heights but when I do I rip my arm out of the socket”. I love what Caleb said in Joshua 14:10-11: “here I am this day, eighty-five years old. And yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me (he was 40 at that time); just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.” May these words apply to you my friend as you stay in the battle for this generation of young people!

  2. Two years ago at church camp while playing some sort of creative “safe” version of the Hunger Games I dislocated my shoulder while swinging a pool noodle at the students! It came out of socket and didn’t go back in. Yeah you are right it was pretty painful but the worst part is the waiting around for them to finally put it back in at the ER! I had previously separated it before so it had been a little loose. At least how your dislocation happened sounds a lot more manly than mine! Surgery and PT and rest will get it back to full strength.

  3. Sorry to hear you were hurt! Hope you heal soon. Keep living the adventure while you still can and be safe!

  4. The upside is that those teens have a trip they will NEVER forget…”Remember when we were diving off the bridge and Jon dislocated his shoulder? That was so epic!”

    As we were heading to a Jr. High retreat I had the handicap door to our church bus (full of students) swing open as we passed through a tunnel, which knocked it off its hinges. We were stuck in the tunnel and had to be towed out. The students don’t remember anything the speaker said that weekend, but they remember the bus getting stuck in the tunnel and how we adults handled the adversity. I try not to drive the bus anymore…

  5. I feel for you, Jonathan!!! Four years ago (I was 48 at the time), I took my youth group to an “adventure” camp in up-state Maine that we had been to several times before. Our trip was to include rock climbing/repelling, a ropes course, and white water rafting on the Kennebek River. The also had an indoor rock wall that each new group would get to use for an hour on their first night there. Since we’ve been to this camp several times in the past, I’ve probably climbed that wall at least 100 times! But this time, one of the girls in my group was nervous about climbing (as she’d never done it before), so I offered to climb the section of the wall next to her at the same time … “we’ll just go slow & easy”, I said … “it will be fun!”, I said … little did I know! Well, I was about 4 feet off the ground, and attempted to move my right foot to another peg, pivoting on my left foot. As I did … *POP* … I dislocated my left knee! I mean, it (along with everything below it) was turned 90 degrees to the left! And, yes … it was THE most excruciating pain I have ever felt!! They lowered me to the floor, where I laid for 45 minute (trying not to pass out from the pain) while I waited for an ambulance. The medics shot me up with morphine, loaded me into the back of the ambulance, and drove 45 minutes (over bumpy logging roads) to the nearest medical facility (actually, they had to stop once along the way to give me more morphine). Once at the hospital, an MRI was taken, and the Dr. proclaimed … “Good news! It’s just dislocated! We’ll just pop that baby back into place, and you’ll be out of here in no time!” My response was definitely NOT one of the proudest moments of my life (God forgive me, but I was pretty high on morphine at the time) … I replied something like … “Doc, if I’m not unconscious when you do that, this entire hospital is going to know what I think of your mother!” He just laughed and assured me that I wouldn’t remember a thing. Thankfully he was right … because when I woke up, my knee was back in place, my leg was straight again, and I had an immobilizer on that went from mid-thigh to my ankle. Needless to say, I didn’t get to participate in the rock climbing/repelling or the ropes course … but I did manage to do the white water rafting. In the process we forged one of those “do you remember …” legends that help to forever bond youth groups … and if it’s any consolation, I’m sure you’ve done the same!!

  6. Sorry to hear about your injury. I’m just wondering if I’m the only person who didn’t make it to the 4th sentence without thinking, “If all your friends jumped off of a bridge, would you do it, too?”

Comments are closed.