We had just finished a rehearsal last Thursday evening when my friend noticed a missed call from Collin. That’s odd, I wondered, he knows we’re practicing. Mike called Collin and handed the phone to me. Hi, Mom, my son calmly said. Hey, we’re up in ER, Dad just cut his finger off. But he’s OK. It’s not life-threatening.
My husband Curt is a task-oriented man. So if it’s raining, and the lawn needs mowing, he mows the lawn in the rain. April 11, 2019: first mowing of the season. He had the grass-catcher on and was dumping the clippings onto our garden. Sometimes the tube would clog up with wet grass. He would reach in and grab a clump to clear the passageway.
As he got to the last few rows, my wise and capable man did something very foolish. His mind became disengaged. There’s no logical explanation. The clods became a challenge. As if he were emptying the washing machine, he just kept reaching in and grabbing grass. He didn’t register that the engine was still running. Until the blades grabbed his finger.
The first thing he felt was disappointment with himself for doing something so dumb. One moment can change everything. Pain propelled him to the hospital.
The ER staff were fantastic. They’ve seen mangled. They’ve seen gore. Actually there wasn’t much blood, because Curt has Raynaud Syndrome, where blood doesn’t flow to his fingers when the temperature is cold. Who knew there was a benefit from Raynaud’s? He lost the top section of his ring finger. Reattachment wasn’t an option.
As soon as our older sons knew their dad was OK, they began the banter.
We’re crossing our fingers for you!
Give Dad a high 4.5 for me!
Curt has a few quips of his own. He answers the phone with Stumpy’s Lawn Service. He told a friend that he felt a kinship with John the Baptist. How so? He must increase and I must decrease.
It’s not all beer and skittles. Spontaneous amputation involves pain. But incisive humor, a large fund of humility, and an inclination to be thankful can provide relief, analgesics with no side effects. I can still see Curt shaking hands (using his right hand) with the staff that stitched him up before we left ER.
Dear reader, bear with me. This is a cautionary tale. When I am training employees in my job I have a mantra: You can never go on autopilot. Think! Engage! Attend! Notice! Stay awake! Turn off the engine!
P.S. In a wry intersection with my reading life, I just finished Abraham Verghese’s novel, Cutting for Stone. Chapter 2, The Missing Finger, relates the story of a surgeon amputating his own index finger when it became swollen and infected after a surgical nick.