Friday, March 27, 2009

Over on The Fellowship of the Traveling Smarty Pants Candace Jean July 16 posted a blog about a man who has a prosthetic finger with a built in USB drive titled Does NtG Have a Motorcycle? "Or table saw?" is written at the end of the post. I'm afraid I have both and have also experienced some pretty bad hand injuries over a few years when I was a carpenter. I thought it would be fun to review some of them.

The first major injury was a couple months after I became a carpenter. I needed to plan the edge of a door down using a power hand planer. I didn't feel like taking the door down making a few passes putting it up and finding out I needed to take off more so I tried doing it with the door in place. I had a guy helping me to hold the door and only the top third or so needed planning so it should have been safe enough. The problem is the guy holding the door decided to let go for some reason and the planer and door swung his way. I shifted my grip to keep from planning his face but my left ring finger went over the edge guard and I felt a thump, thump, thump on the side of my finger. It didn't hurt at all and went I first looked at it there was no blood so I didn't think it was bad. Just as I voiced that opinion the blood started flowing rather quickly. The guy I was with just froze so I had to get him to snap out of it so I could get help. I tried for an hour to control the bleeding but finally gave in and went to the Dr. I didn't get stitches. Not enough left to stitch according to the doctor. They put a kind of gel-foam bandage on it that they use for burns and the skin grew back though there is a noticeable scar and that finger is narrow on that side.

Sometime later I was trimming shims from a new door install and stabbed myself in the hand. This was all my fault because I was using a dull blade and applying way too much force. Anyways, the blade went in about half and inch and it was about half and inch long. I should have got stitches for sure. I had to push stuff back into my palm and use butterfly closures to hold that tissue in. I got good bandages and pressure on it and stopped the bleeding … mostly. I had to keep changing the bandage for a week because flexing my hand would open it. I did clean everything really well and kept applying antibiotics so it never got infected. The scar is very small. I think it is smaller than it would have been with stitches but I was blessed that it didn't get infected or worse.

I had a few other minor injuries after that with several small scars on my hands but nothing that should have been seen by a doctor till a few years ago when I was working on an evil house. We had just acquired this house and had to do lots of work on it. I kept getting injuries on this house. My blood is all over the place but two of them were really bad. The first was when I was working on the roof. They were pushing us to get finished so a couple could move in that was expecting a baby at the end of the summer. I had to trim the old overhang where we didn't replace the decking to match the new so the drip edge would fit right. I was working off the ladder and using a circular saw. The ladder slipped and I reached to grab the roof so I wouldn't fall. Unfortunately I grabbed right where the saw was and cut my middle and ring finger on my left hand bad. That is the same ring finger that I sliced the side off of. This is the first time I got stitches. The week after the doctor released me I was working on cutting a 3/8" groove into the trim for the house of blood. I set things up using all the safety equipment and was on the last piece. There was so much saw dust that it was overflowing the bin and covered the floor. I had done lots of wood but we were in a huge push to finish this house. The trim was all that was left. I slipped in the saw dust as I pulled the last piece out and my right hand (only serious injury to that hand) slipped over the feather board I setup to hold the trim pieces against the guide instead of my hand. The dado blade buzzed my finger prints off of a 3/8" section of the ring and middle finger on my right hand. Once again not enough to stitch so I got that gel-foam bandage on them.

Then my last injury came. It was a year before I quit my job as carpenter to become a Youth Pastor. Our nail gun occasionally misfired and I was assembling skirting under a building we remodeled. We completely gutted the place and this was another one of those rush jobs to get it finished. The gun misfired and the nail kicked out of the wood and into my left hand. It went in an inch and a half right beside my thumb. It didn't hit anything fortunately because I saw the nail sticking out and thought, "that doesn't belong there," and pulled it out. There was a small (one inch or so) spurt of blood but then it just dripped down my arm. I got the bleeding under control really quickly but my boss sent me to the Dr. anyway. They x-rayed to make sure it didn't hit the bone. I don't know how it missed but I guess the curve of the nail from the misfire guided it away from the bone. Once again I was really blessed. They put me on some monster antibiotics that made me feel like I had a bad sunburn if I got in the sun at all. This happened a couple of days before I went to see Casino Royal in which James Bond gets shot with a nail gun. Yep I've experienced that so I'm pretty awesome like James Bond.

I still have all my fingers though so I'm pretty happy. God kept me in each of those instances.

Anyone else have any injuries to share?


Helen said...

I am glad you have all of your fingers.

katdish said...

Sorry...can't read this. Gives me the heebie-jeebies. When you started talking about planing the door, I had to stop.

Nope...can't read it. Sorry.

(But I'm glad you have all your fingers.)

Nick the Geek said...

Helen & Katdish,

Thanks for the well wishes on my fingers, although the bionic finger would be pretty cool. I'd be like some kind of super spy.

You should read it. You'd be surprised how little each of the incidents hurt. Of course I had to overcome a fear of the tools, but that wasn't too bad. Actually after the first instance I had to finish planning the door when I got back to work because the other guy was too scared of the planner. I did take it off the hinges and mount it in a floor brace that holds the door securely on its edge while working on it. I didn't make the mistake of trying to save time ever again with that tool.

Actually each of the accidents taught me something important, like clean the floor and empty the dust bin once you start getting a little bit of buildup. Sure I had to stop halfway through several projects to clean up but I didn't slip again.

Wendy said...

I made it as far as that you used to be a carpenter. 'Nuff said.

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