I think maybe the hospital I live near should build a tunnel from my basement to the ER. It's only about two blocks anyway, and I've walked over there four times in the last two weeks. The first three times were to visit my friend Alex, who got hit by a car. This latest time, though, was all me. Nothing quite so serious, but nonetheless not an experience I hope ever to repeat.
I was in my basement on Sunday, working on building a bench for my new planer. I've been buying a lot of tools lately, and it's starting to get a bit crowded down there, so I figured I'd work on some storage. So I was running a 2x4 through the table saw to cut it down to size.
I'm not entirely sure what happened next. My memory is a bit hazy for those few seconds. But I think I was concentrating on keeping one of my hands away from the blade, and didn't pay quite enough attention to the other. What I do remember pretty clearly is jumping away from the saw, yelling loudly, and clutching my thumb.
Before I go too much further, let me say that I did not sever any digits. I gave myself a really nasty cut across the pad of my thumb, but I didn't slice anything completely off. I'd say it's about a five or six on a scale of one to ten, where one is a paper cut, and ten is the aforementioned digit removal. The nurse at the ER (where I spent the next four hours) gave me an "A+", though. :p
Here's a picture of the rather nifty bandage they gave me.
They had to put it on with a special tool - it was sort of a cage that stretched a tubular piece of gauze out, and they fed it up and down, creating layers. Very clever, I thought.
If you want to see what it looks like underneath the bandage, well, what's wrong with you?!? :) But click here and check it out if you must. Warning to those with a weak stomach: it's gross. Warning to those with a highly developed photoaesthetic sense: the picture is poorly taken.
Anyway, it looks like I'll heal up in a few weeks. Right now, I can't feel the tip of my thumb, but I'm hoping that will come back. In the meantime, it hasn't interfered with my typing too much, and that's the important thing, since it's how I earn my bread.
The weirdest thing about the whole experience has been observing the mental and physical effects. I've never really hurt myself seriously before, so it was odd to feel myself going through the typical reactions. First was physical shock - I was disoriented and sweating for a few minutes right after. And then of course there was disbelief ("there's no way I just turned my thumb into a tiny pile of hamburger!"), anger (as I was walking to the ER I was super pissed that I'd been so stupid), depression (not the real kind, but I was a little down about it for a bit), etc.
All in all I'd say I was dumb but lucky. Which beats dumb and unlucky or even smart and unlucky. In the future I'm hoping to be smart and lucky. I also hope to return to amateur carpentry (sans the amateur surgery), but one thing I'm not sure about yet is whether this whole incident has dampened my enthusiasm to the point where I'll just find something else to do any time it's time to turn on the power tools. But if I do go back to it (as I intend to), I know this: I'm going to incorporate the piece of wood that I was cutting into the final product. Preferably with the bloodstain showing. Just something from my own twisted sense of revenge I guess. Or stubbornness.
So, woodworkers: be careful out there. Pay attention, build or buy whatever jig you need to make the cut safely, and think before you act.
Oh, and if you see my parents, don't tell them. :)