30 for 30: Day 20


Generally speaking, I try not to cry in public unless the situation demands it. Thanks, gender-based expectations. If I do cry, I try not to do it in front of women. Thanks, machismo. And if I do cry in front of a woman, I would prefer to do it with my shirt on. Thanks, unrealistic body image standards. Today’s 3F3 is of my most expensive Fight Club injury ever, and sadly, the last. I remember…

The year is 2016. I’m 36 years old.

It’s only fitting that my most serious martial arts injury occurred before class had even begun. I don’t know what compelled me, but I got it in my head that I could do one of those olympic iron cross moves on some ropes we had hanging from the wall. I got my arms straight out for maybe a second before something in my shoulder popped.

Fast-forward to a doctor’s office in North Austin. I’m sitting on a table with my shirt off. The doctor comes in with his young, attractive female assistant. She does her best not to stare at my gut hanging over my shorts. The doctor starts to manipulate my arm, and very gently, causes the most intense pain I’ve ever felt. My eyes immediately started to water. The tears fell over my cheeks like waterfalls of shame.

I call this moment Peak Daniel Verastiqui. Here is me at my most vulnerable, most awkward, and most pathetic.

The minutes and hours before going under for a medical procedure are strange. You know you’re approaching a moment when you will stop remembering things. At first, you’re wary, and you’re scared of that moment arriving. But as they wheel you into the OR and everyone is standing around ready to cut you open, you’re scared the moment won’t arrive.

Then you wake up laughing in a bed with Dom by your side.

Those first 72 hours following the procedure were tough. There’s a nerve block in your neck that keeps most of the pain at bay. You have to sit in a chair and let ice water circulate around the wounds. You have to keep on top of your medicine so things don’t get out of control.

After that, things change, and get much harder. Sleeping in a sling with a throbbing shoulder is a challenge. Physical therapy is, at times, extremely painful. And as you slowly transition out of the sling, you have to remember not to use your arm. God help you if you reach out with your bad arm and accidently burn it on a griddle and recoil in pain and crack something open in your shoulder.

Years later, the scars are still pretty gnarly, and I’ve only got like 95% range of motion. That arm moves a little weird when I lift weights, but otherwise, I don’t notice it much.

Still, what a crazy way to end my JKD career. I tried to go back after my shoulder healed, but it was never the same. I think it was the spectre of injury that finally got to me. I couldn’t afford (in many ways) to go through something like that again. And that was even before Matador.

I couldn’t imagine doing this while chasing after a toddler.

“Sorry, kid… this horsey’s gone lame…” isn’t going to fly in this house.

About the author

Daniel Verastiqui

Daniel Verastiqui is a science fiction author from Austin, Texas. His novels explore relationships and identity in the context of ubiquitous technology, pervasive violence, and frequent nudity. His next book, Brigham Plaza, is planned for a Summer 2020 release. He recommends you start getting excited about the new book now.

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