So many of you have asked about just how I managed to become a wood shop cliché, I felt the need to clear the sawdust and explain the tale of the table saw. For starters, some have suggested that I incorporate the near-ampututation of my right pointer, middle and ring fingers into my comedy. Nice. What do you think I am, friends? A humor machine mining my pain for other’s enjoyment? What would I even say? “Don’t ask Santa for a table saw unless you want hand surgery from The Easter Bunny?” When I asked my son what he ate for lunch and he said the three finger basket, I said seriously, “Too soon.”
The accident happened (passive voice) on a Wednesday Morning when my son Jack had a delayed school start time (only third one this year.) John’s father was very sick at Baylor Hospital in Dallas in the ICU undergoing risky surgery only because the of danger of delay was an even greater risk. He left early to be in Dallas with Dad. At home I gathered my weathered wood to fashion arrows for teacher appreciation decorations. I love the sentiment of teachers extending their influence through these seniors who will soon be very far flung. I fired up the saw and made a few. I decided to pause so I reached for the off switch with my left hand and reached for the arrow with my right before the blade had completely come to rest.
I snatched my searing hand back and immediately began screaming. I ran into the house and Jack assessed the situation, ( my mother is re-enacting the Dan Akroid / Julia Childs blood spurting SNL sketch) gave me a paper towel and said in a calm manner, “Mom, I’m taking you to the E.R. Let’s go. I continued the high-pitched “God help me!” shrieks inside the confines of the F-250 until I settled on repeating the 23rd Psalm. When I reached verse four which references walking through the shadow of death Jack interrupted with his admonition that I was not quite THERE yet.
I told him not to tell John because I did not want to distract from his time with his Dad. I mean we can all multitask but really, people, one harrowing medical issue at a time here. Jack dropped me off and as I raced into the Emergency Room intake area I was befuddled by the registration kiosk. The elderly security professional offered to take a stab at the computerized screen and I defaulted to my God help me mantra, just not so loudly. An R.N. appeared to streamline the registration and they ushered me in my saw dusty pajama-pant, permed-troll-doll-hair-lookin’ self to room number 11. Then the doctor and the nice drug people came. Unfortunately the pain relief delivery system was a series of shots at the base of my fingers but God did help me and soon I was radically better.
My son kept watchful care over room #11 and it dawned on me that he needed to email Loyola so that they would know he was not taking a Senior Skip Day. Chris at the front desk does an excellent job tracking her LCP Students. So Jack sent a non-chalant email mentioning that his mom needed a ride to the hospital and that we were all good. Immediately Chris called to check on me and when she could not get me, called John who knew nothing about the accident. Phone less because of our panicked departure, John was unable to reach Jack or me. John’s CALL ME text appeared on Jack’s iPad and we sensed that the jig was up.
He face timed John and told him that it was all under control. Righty was patched up, pain meds prescribed and an appointment with a hand surgeon slated for the next day. Lisa swung by our home to get the center pieces for our teacher’s lounge and make sure servers were covered. Luckily the Senior Girl Mom rep had coordinated the lunch beautifully so that was a relief. Aprile took me to the appointment Thursday and efficiently slogged through 30 pages of paperwork. When she delivered the papers to the registration lady, she was given an iPad with still more questions. I was holding it together well through the battery of questions about flatulence, alcohol and history of itchy scalp until she reached the question, “Can you easily wash your own back?” I looked at her and busted out laughing. “Who easily washes their own back? Yoga instructors and contortionists maybe.” The dam of anxiety and trauma broke and an unstoppable, raucous flood of laughter lurched forth.
John returned home and accompanied me to my surgery the next day. Surgery was successful and painless until the nurse asked John if he could help me redress. Dr. Bildebeck (Build-A-Bear…he sure knows how to sew you up!) was masterful, tendons are reattached and rehab begins this week. My hand modeling days may be over but I am crazy grateful to be five for five.
My sweet father-in-law is making a miraculous recovery himself and we are attributing that to answered prayer. I have had more hours in stillness than I can remember. And more casserole-shaped love from friends who love us so well. Beyond the support I have the deep security of knowing that my child, just like his father, is who you want in a crisis. I am thankful and expect a full recovery. I am done with power tools and only get Bob the Builder plastic ones from here on out. Once more when the terrifying storm passes what has surfaced is the love of God and deep generosity of people.