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29 May, 2012

Deal With It

looks a lot worse than it feels

Yes, shit happens. What do you do about it?

Last week, I was walking on sunshine. Not with that Katrina & the Waves song in my head, but in a field of wildflowers, digging some roots to feed my kids, or maybe a larger feast,…the destination mattered less than the procurement, the act of popping food from the ground.

Then, the root digger broke, and cut me. The handle, made of deer antler, snapped, sending one jagged edge through my hand. At first, it seemed minor, just a scratch. Then it bled. Then I opened my palm and saw bone and tendons, skin separated from meat, a jagged opening.

I clenched my fist. Tried to convince myself that I had not seen it. But knowing I had. The pristine eyeball white of a bone peaking from blood was something I'd seen before (distal ulna, that other time), and set against a crimson background it is unmistakable.

I looked again, lost the courage to let it lay open beneath the sun, bleeding out whatever dirt and dustified cowshed may have entered the wound (as is custom), and clenched again. This is the tiny fact of my accident that made it easier: applying pressure to a wound between the thumb and forefinger is as easy as making a fist.

Bleeding stanched, musculature and skeleton once again hidden from sun, I did not panic. In fact, becalmed myself. Picked up the roots I'd managed to dig, picked up the stick, decided to leave the splintered handle pieces there as an offering to the cold wind that had hit me seconds before the bloodletting, and managed to not to spiral down into paralytic fear of said wind and injury.

Then I walked down the hill to my truck, bound the wound, and drove to town, looking for the blue hospital signs. Ended up in one of the few emergency rooms in the country where "catastrophic digging stick handle failure" is an injury that does not result in bewilderment or a psych evaluation. Got stitched up, and drove across the mountains to show my kids the impressive bandage that had been applied. (They would have to wait till the next day for the dramatic unveiling you have seen above.)

Other than the instant when I realized that this was something I could not repair myself, I was calm. A second of panic, followed by an hour of doing what had to be done to get myself to the body shop. Then, jokes with the doc and nurses, one of whom knew the place I'd been to, and told me about the hunting there (this could count as ethnographic research, but I won't claim workers comp). The whole time thinking: this is what it was like in Dad's death-time, when it felt like I was the only one realizing what was happening, and doing what had to be done. The Peace of Catastrophe.

Since then, the mounting Impatience of Healing. I was able to pull a stitch yesterday, but the rest of the chasm between my thumb-ham and the rest of my palm seems too tender, in need of another day or two to be ready to get rid of the sutures separating me from separating the halves of my hand. Somehow, the calm of the scare was replaced by the fretting of the recovery. Weird.

I know that a couple of .05 plastic threads won't keep my skin from ripping, and the sharp ends afflict my palm as it tries to grown a new print. I'll take them out, probably tomorrow. The sutured interim will become a thing of the past, a scar that folds into my palm, disappearing. A doctor won't do it: I have scissors and new knife, and the courage will appear when I need it.

1 comment:

  1. Courage, my eye - you can't wait to do it!

    Small compensation for the fact we have no pics of that bone basking in the sun ...