Fat paycheck or trip to the ER?

Emergency-RoomLast week sucked. Bad.

Not only were editing deadlines upon me – NBC wants two hours of TV a week from us – but for the better part of the week, I had a strained chest muscle, a random swelling in my elbow with spidery streaks of red stretching down my arm, and a temperature that peaked somewhere around 102.5. And flu symptoms that left me feeling like I got hit by a 20-ton grip truck.

Twice. In the same place.

Those who know me will attest that I barely ever get so much as a sniffle. I maybe get a little 2-day cold twice a year, and that’s about it. It’s literally been years since my temperature crossed into triple digits.

As to the chest thing, well, I’m not exactly sure how that happened. I have some ideas, but nothing for sure. That’ll just take some time to rebuild itself.

The flu – as much as it sucks, I know that it’s temporary. The achy, sensitive skin, hit-by-a-truck feeling usually goes away in a couple days or so with the fever.

But that whole swollen elbow thing with the streaks going down my arm?

That ain’t cool.

I texted an elbow selfie to my wife, and she proceeded to freak out.

I didn’t though… because I knew what it was. I’d experienced this sort of thing before.

It was a number of years ago when I was still a freewheeling bachelor. I was cutting on a really cool show with really cool people… and we put in REALLY long hours. As in every week, I as the senior editor had to pull an all-night edit, chugging 7-11 coffee and Monster drinks just to get a complete pass at an episode for the weekly network screening.

One Saturday (weekends were pretty normal on this gig too), my executive producer was in the bay with me and happened to see my leg.

“Holy ****, Jefe, what is up with your ankle?!”

Said ankle was red, swollen, and had multiple red streaks stretching up towards my knee.

I barely noticed – it didn’t hurt, and I had a cut to finish.

You do not want a picture of cellulitis. The ones posted online can get pretty disgusting. Ick.
You do not want a picture of cellulitis. The ones posted online can get pretty disgusting. Ick.

My EP went back into the other room, typed my symptoms into Google, and informed me that I might have cellulitis – a bacterial infection that could range in severity from harmless to FLESH-DESTROYING DEATH.

An hour later I sat in the Emergency Room and was informed that my EP was right, and that these sort of bacterial infections often happen in times of stress, little sleep, or general overwork.


About a week later, I received my latest paycheck. It was overflowing with overtime pay, one of the largest editing paychecks I’ve ever received to this day. (For the record, the executive producer on that show was pulling all-nighters with everyone else and made damn sure that the people killing themselves to make those crazy deadlines were well taken care of.)

And I had an odd moment that’s stuck with me ever since. Staring at that big fat check, I thought: “This is the literal price tag I am putting on my health. And it’s not enough.”

That was the last time I’ve ever cut an all-night edit.

Flash forward to last week with my left elbow swollen up with red streaks going up my arm. Yep, I knew what it was.

Off to the doctor, yep you got cellulitis, here’s a shot of Rocephin, here’s a prescription for Doxycycline.

I’m happy to say, my elbow is returning to normal, as are the rest of the symptoms I described above.

But man, did my editing suffer. You can’t focus on creativity when all you want to do is curl up into a ball on the couch in your bay.

It’s true… if you don’t have your health, very little else matters.

Editing often comes with heavy workloads. I get that. But keep in mind, if your health goes, all the editing in the world is pointless.

Having said that, a healthy, well-rested body and mind is an amazing thing. It lets you focus on the creative elements of editing… like this:

A free report on my top five tips for picking the perfect edit point every time.


Seriously good stuff here – I use it daily in my work in Hollywood, editing content seen by millions.

Check it out.

Leave a Reply