Rather than squash the kid, I tried to roll into the fall like a Hollywood stunt man. I landed on my shoulder, dislocated it and trashed my labrum. The shoulder popped right back. The labrum, I was told about six weeks later, was shredded, with pieces of it floating around loose in my shoulder. The labrum apparently acts as something of a rubber washer that encircles your shoulder around the ball joint. Do too much damage to it, and the shoulder will just pop out randomly, for seemingly no reason. When the orthopedic surgeon asked how I managed to do so much damage, I simply grinned and said, "Football injury."
I thought that was a pretty good explanation, given the circumstances. My eight-year-old son, though, had to go and spoil everything. He announced to his teacher and his principal at school that his dad was wearing a shoulder sling because he tore his labia. Good grief.
Surgery was no fun. Or, rather, the first day or two after the surgery were no fun. I've since gained quite a bit of motion back, and I'm healing, but those first 36 hours or so were hellish. And, I'm not sure if it was the residual pain of having an arthroscope punched into my shoulder from three different directions, or if it was the sad realization that I'd lost autumn altogether.
I'm a die-hard fly fisher--I've been known to give it a whirl any time of the year, no matter the weather. But what really tore me up this year was the fact that I got a new rifle--a Winchester 30.06. I had grand plans for deer and elk, and that's just not going to happen. There's an outside chance that, if I can stay on a steady recovery path, I'll be able to get into some ducks in a few weeks. Right now, though, the thought of swinging a 12-banger after a flight of mallards just hurts.
My guns and rods rest harmlessly in the rafters of the downstairs man cave, content, it would seem, to wait another year. I, on the other hand, am not so content. I've lost a season. I'm looking forward to spring already--maybe I'll draw that turkey tag, and maybe I'll get back down to the Gulf Coast to chase reds again. Hopefully, my double haul will have returned by then.
For now, I'm on the shelf, a lot like my hunting and fishing hardware.