I turned 50 years old on the 24th and I guess the powers that be decided to teach me a lesson the I will never forget for my birthday.
on the 26th I went out early to start ripping up some maple boards on the table saw for a side table that the LOML designed.
No problems for about an hour, but then I did something stupid. I took my mind off of what I was doing and allowed my left hand to get too close to the blade. I have always used a riving knife with anti-kick back grips and have never had an issue before. Well, needless to say, the table saw grabbed my hand and yanked hard.
I lost the tip of both my pointer and middle finger from the first knuckle (the one closest to the nail). And there they were sitting on top of my saw looking back at me.
I grabbed the first aid kit off of the wall and wrapped what was left because the blood loss was starting to really get bad. I then called 911 and they were at the house in under 5 minutes.
So off to the hospital I go, trying to tell the paramedics about all of the meds I take for my injured back, so they wont put me in cardiac arrest with too much Morphine. Then about half way there, I started to go into shock and the bleeding was really getting bad. My shirt was soaked.
Then into the Emergency room and I had about 10 people working on me trying to get my hand stabilized. The doctor told me that the medics have my fingers on ice and a hand surgeon was on his way to try and save them. Then the pain hit me like a tidal wave...not from the amputation mind you...but from the doctor. He had to give me a "digit block" by inserting a long needle into each of my fingers front, back and sides. It took seven nurses to hold me down. But the hand was numb.
My wife arrived and at that point I got upset to the point of crying (tough guy, huh?) But then I realized that it was not from pain, or even the loss of my fingers, but from the hell I was putting my wife through. All I kept doing was apologizing to my wife for doing this to her.
So off to surgery I go and bottom line is that they could not save the tips. I now have two fingers on my left hand stitched up and looking like something out of a Mary Shelly book.
Okay...so much for the gore.....now lessons learned.
*What I did right*
1. Installed a phone in the shop the week before.
2. Having a fully stocked Med cabinet in the shop..
3. Keeping my cool and called 911
*What I did wrong*
1. Forgetting what I preach to my kids. I forgot that whatever I was working on deserves my full attention and concentration. I let my mind wander, and I paid for it.
Finally a word of advice, since all of you have been giving me advice for all of these months.
Please make sure your med kit is stocked and available.
Make sure your phone is working in the shop. If you don't have one, install one tomorrow morning before you power up.
Accidents are going to happen, it is just a question of when. I have the benefit of having been trained as a paramedic in my younger years. Take the time to update your first aid skills.
And finally. When you grab a piece of stock, or power up your lathe. CONCENTRATE ON WHAT YOU ARE DOING AT THAT MOMENT. THERE IS NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THEN WHAT YOU ARE DOING AT THAT MOMENT.
I did not....and will pay for it forever. (Although I was back in the shop ripping boards today...I won't let this hold me back. I am doing better and thanks to all for your generous comments.