Why is it that explaining accidents usually begins with, “What was I thinking?”
Those were the very words out of my husband Chuck’s mouth when he appeared in the living room of our remote Smoky Mountain cabin shortly before bedtime, his face draining of all color and color (red) draining into a puddle on the floor off his left hand.
Those words plus a few others repeated a half-dozen times, with increasing passion each and every repetition: “I cut myself. It’s bad. It’s bad. IT’S BAD!!!”
Yep. It was. He had chewed up the tip of his long finger with a drill bit while working on a dresser. Not any old drill bit, mind you, a brand new, razor sharp, right-out-of-the-box, can-cut-through-the-Rock-of-Gibraltar drill bit.
So off to find an ER. In the mountains. In the middle of the night. With Chuck in shock, trying to not gush blood all over the car seat.
The hospital was a 40-minute drive around death-defying mountain curves, twisting hairpin turns, and a ding-dang gorge the size of the Grand Canyon sheer dropping off one side of the road and a wall of rock so close on the other that you could reach your hand out the window and pat the mountain. And I ain’t funnin’ ya here.
Debio Andretti rose to the challenge and flew her man to their destination faster than any rescue helicopter. (Thankfully there was nobody else stupid enough to be out on the gorge road at that time of night – it’s tricky enough in the light of midday – so I could utilize both lanes. And road shoulders. And the trampoline effect of an occasional sapling.)
It was surreal. I felt like I was inside a car race video game. But with no additional lives.
Chuck said he had no idea his pokey lil’ puppy could drive like a bat out of someplace extremely hot like that. To which I replied, “That was just a warm-up, bub. Cut off another appendage and you’ll see what I’ve really got.”
By Papa God’s grace, we arrived in one piece (except for a little tire rubber we may have left along the roadside). A nice man in a white lab coat took one look, shook his head, and muttered “In med school we called this a spaghetti injury.” I suddenly lost any appetite I ever had for Italian cuisine.
Then the white-coated man began the tedious task of suturing a shredded finger back together.
I was allowed to watch if I promised to be good (I took that to mean no screaming, fainting, or slugging the doctor) and found it completely fascinating. The white-coated man painstakingly pieced the many slices of skin back together like a puzzle (the culprit was a power drill, remember?) rearranging them here and there to cover the bone. They slid around real well in the pool of red they were doggie paddling in. Of course a bit of finger pulp and skin was missing – I pictured them splattered across the wall at home like a Freddy Kruger nightmare – so the good doc rose to the challenge and got quite creative.
Stitches, stiches everywhere with not a knot to spare.
In the end Chuck’s finger looked like it was rejected by Frankenstein’s monster, but we weren’t complaining. The good doc was a UF alumni. [Obnoxious Gator chomp here] Now we can tell people with full sincerity that Chuck lost his fingertip to a gator. Hey, we’re from Tampa; what’s not to believe?
So this morning I’ve been reflecting on how we must all rise to the challenge at times when unexpected circumstances whomp us upside the head. Chuck’s challenge was not panicking while he maintained a grip on his mangled finger. Mine was putting the pedal to the metal without
soaring off the side of a dark mountain. The white-coated Gator guy’s was reassembling a dozen tiny finger puzzle pieces without instructions.
When was the last time you rose to a challenge? I’d love to hear about it, my BBFF (Blessed Blog Friend Forever)!
And in case you didn’t realize that I almost always have a giveaway going on, be sure to click on “Freebies” at my website www.DeboraCoty.com then check out all the great stuff there for FREE!
Oh, I should mention once again that my too-cute-for-words Too Blessed to be Stressed Gift Set is now on Sam’s Club shelves for a limited time – two books for the price of one!
Cherrie Gnann says
I feel for you both. When I was pregnant with Jill, my husband cut off part of a finger down to the first bend in his finger (just before the knuckle) and he came to the back door, had it covered with a rag and said, we need to go to the hospital (which if you knew my husband, then you knew he had cut something off or he’d just wipe it off and go on)- I waddled to the car as fast as I could, left my daughter, Mindy with my grandmother next door and sped to G’vlle, naturally I got stopped by a policeman who looked at me with my big ole stomach and asked why was I driving instead of my husband when I yelled I need to get to the hospital, he said, it’s not you, and Plen said, nope I cut part of my finger off, I screamed, OMG, you cut it off, where is it, he said, somewhere in the barn, so with a police escort we got quickly to the hospital after that…I guess he knew not to tell me unless he had to that his finger was partially removed. MEN!
Yikes! Men surely don’t think like we do, do they? When I was a hand therapist (retired 2 years ago), I recall a male patient who cut off not just one but three mostly whole fingers in a diagonal slice from a power saw. His holler brought his wife from the house; she appraised the situation, then calmly covered his hand with a towel, set him in the car, told him to keep pressure on it, and went back to retrieve the fingers from the sawdust on the floor with a clean cloth and put them in a cooler with some ice. He said if he’d been by himself, he probably would have just stood there in shock until he bled out.
Sherry Martin says
You had me hanging on every word. Since Doug is from t he mountains of W VA, I know E XACTLY what your challenge was and can only imagine the white knuckle ride to the ER. Hope Chuck’s finger is better and not too painful. Tell him to quit giving you such good material for your next UNSTRESSED book.
Ha! Great idea for a book chapter, huh, Sherry?
Carolyn Law says
So glad you held it together to get Chuck to ER. He is going to have some pain. Many nerves in those fingertips. I hope they gave him good pain meds. Praying for Chuck and for Deb, the care giver.
You’re right, Carolyn – he’s already marveling at how such a little finger can throb so big. We appreciate your prayers! Are you recovered now? Enjoying retirement, I hope?
Seems like there are so many opportunities to rise to the occasion with kids and our spouse. (And now grand-kids!) We certainly will be in prayer for Chuck for his healing and use of his finger. Glad there is a hand therapist in the family!! Praying that your time in NC will be calm and relaxing!
Thanks, Sandi. It sure is different when the patient is a loved one!
Marsha Stephenson says
Hope Chuck’s finger heals quickly! You are an amazing story teller. You keep me on the edge of my seat while at the same time smiling with your humor. Love ya!
Thanks, Marsha … love ya too, sister!