I love my hands and want to keep functional every freaking finger and my opposables for these are my assets that render me recognizably human, well at least semi-hairless primate. And, though I also love the scholarly thing, I miss using my hands gnarly and exhaustively each day.
THE SHORT VERSION of a smidgen of the remembered
I sat in a waiting room, not one I had been in before. With my head slightly tilted I watched the man five seats down on my left. He was clean cut, dark haired, casual but well dressed, perhaps twenty-five. He flipped through the slick pages of a magazine. Something seemed not quite right. I was fixed on his hands when it dawned on me that his fingers were toes. The uniform loss of digits on both hands seemed suggestive of machine precision, an industrial accident. The expletive fingers still absent, the others had been adapted from his big toes and its second. The pointer toe digit and his opposable toes, now thumbs, flipped pages. No redness, residual mangling or scar. The fat pads of the toes had diminished with their changed use. Perhaps he now balances with upon his feet with little toe prosthetics.
The teenage boy seated next to me interrupted my stare as he leaned nearer to me. I turned noting the professionally bandages wrapped on each wrist. Nodding down with an ask, almost boastful he exclaimed how he hadn’t cut deep enough when he tried to kill himself, but instead had severed and damaged both nerves and tendons. It was a unexpected disclosure. His mother sat with her head down, jaw and body tight. A bodily gesture I recognized as agonized anger and shame. I neither wanted to reward the boy’s boastful call for attention nor judge him harshly with my bodily attentions. So, I attempted gentle eye contact and nods as he talked and I listened.
The door opposite the check-in sliding window, the exit from which I had entered, opened. A woman was rolled in a wheelchair, she was situated and parked. The roller bent and said something quietly in her ear and then departed. Each of her arms, parallel and fully extended forward, were splinted and freshly bandaged. Both of her legs where like wise encased and extended. All four limbs shot out straight forward as if frozen in the act of warding off the impact of an oncoming car. Her entry left the room very silent as the toe-fingered man, the wrist-sliced teen, the angry mom and myself tried not to full on stare.
The door, adjacent to the window, cracked opened, my name was called. I was lead to room five, the door shut as I waited to meet with my hand neurosurgeon. I’d with met him once before during my six hour ER visit, not in a waiting room but behind curtain number three, where I chattered scatologically, nervously, incessantly for my full stay. It was my form of deflection while my finger was prepped with a digital block (a freaking long needle stuck in my fingers crouch between two and three) and the surgeon scrubbed its INSIDE. OMG, having the inside of your own body scrubbed is a thousand kinds of wrong, no matter that you can’t feel it. Finally I was carefully stitched up, wrinkle by wrinkle aligned. All the while, two chain saw accident workers, who’d bounced the rotating teeth off their shins, apparently a common accident, waited. And I listened as the one covered gurney was extricated with each curtain being shut sequentially and its sound announcing the dead body’s passing.
Sure, I had twenty-two stitches zipping up my recessive index finger, not toe, to pull things back together from the inadvertent butterfly fillet resulting from wrestling with my black gator,* but I was pretty sure my finger would be fine. I hadn’t cross cut my tendons and nerves, just sliced up the middle of them from my nailed tip to knuckle, exposing the bone. Sigh, though if you pinch the back of your finger, you’ll see this did not involve a lot of hurt, just OMG, I see my bones.
I had never consciously considered before that I should probably seriously protect my hands and fingers, for they are dear assets. That my eight digits, two opposables, and language make me uniquely operationally as human had previously gone unthunk (yes). It was only sitting in the waiting room witnessing a single day in the office of a hand neurosurgeon that these thoughts surfaced to my consciousness.
And I wasn’t even sculptress yet! But, it was my pre-lesson in noncommercial tool safety before I owned a table saw, bandsaw, miter saw, chop saw, jigsaw, circular saw.
I love my hands and want to keep functional every freaking finger and my opposables for these are my assets that render me recognizably human, well at least semi-hairless primate.
*gator = gatorboard = a type of foamcore with a thin sheath of bulsa wood in it; my blade = exacto knife; and the bite = slippage while running its blade along a metal ruler’s edge and inadvertently up my index finger. Slicing the back of your finger actually doesn’t hurt (go ahead pinch the back of your finger…nada). Only three things hurt: 1. when they vigorously scrubbed INSIDE my finger (WTHeck..seriously no one should scrub under your skin!!!), the digital block (the needle they stick between your fingers and then twist around injecting the deadening) and OT sessions.