The Story Behind “The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Done”

IMG_8279low.jpgToday’s post is written by Thaddeus Rutkowski, whose short story “The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Done” appears in our Fall 2013 issue.

by Thaddeus Rutkowski

Here’s a follow-up to the events in my story “The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Done“:

I went to see my orthopedist recently, not knowing what she would say. Would I need to have manipulation under anesthesia? Would I have to be “put under” with the help of an anesthesiologist so the orthopedist could move my arm to break up scar tissue?

The chief physical therapist had suggested I do the manipulation, but I’d ignored him. I stopped working with him and saw my female therapist instead, the one who called me Honey. She thought we could make progress without a procedure.

In the office, the doctor asked me to show her what I could do with my arm. I lifted it straight over my head, bent it at the elbow and rotated it out to the side, put it up behind my back. “You’ve made a lot of progress,” the doctor said. “Your arm is at about 95%. It may never get better than that, but you’re not an athlete or a body builder, so maybe that’s OK.”

“It’s OK,” I said. “I’m not planning to pitch in a ball game or enter any body-building contests. But I’m concerned about the pain and lack of strength. My arm still hurts.”

“The soreness and weakness could continue for a year and a half after the injury,” she said. “The arm will hurt less as it gets stronger. You don’t have to come back here or to physical therapy.”

I almost couldn’t believe my good fortune. All I’d have to do would be to continue my exercises at home and at the gym. I’d learned a lot of moves from the female therapist, the one who thought we’d make it just by stretching.

Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of the novels HaywireTetched and Roughhouse. He teaches at Medgar Evers College and the Writer’s Voice of the West Side YMCA, both in New York. His writing has appeared in The Outlaw Bible of American PoetryThe New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Fiction, and Fiction International. He was awarded a 2012 fellowship in fiction writing from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Photo by Tony Cenicola

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