Time passes; wounds mend

STOP Cutting Corners

STOP Cutting Corners!

On November 22, 2011 it was 3 years since my injury. At first I measured distance from my injury in hours, then days and now finally years. I suppose it’s long enough to forget certain aspects, but short enough to remember the impact.

Time heals wounds, but often it’s the scars that remind us of what took place.

During the Saskatchewan NAOSH presentation Meranda Yonge indicated that most injury survivors will remember their injury date … often down to the minute. After talking with dozens of injury survivors it appears that is an accurate assessment … my injury occurred at 6:05 pm. I may speak tirelessly about my injury on my blog, but I don’t think that is an accurate representation of the amount of time I spend focused on my injury although I am willing to concede I’ve been much more reflective than most people with an injury of this nature.

After one of my safety presentations I talked with a gentleman in the crowd and he stuck out his hand to compare injuries. He was working and had his finger pinched between 2 pieces of machinery. The top part of his finger was completely crushed and amputated by the machinery. He went to the hospital, but returned to work the next morning. I went through a lot of rehabilitation, but after hearing his story I felt like a total wimp since I was off work for 6 months.

I’m always intrigued by “when” people actually notice that I’ve got fingers missing … some people have known me for months before they notice. Me, ‘on the other hand’, I notice very quickly. I went to play squash with a new player and before we began warming up I realized he was also a finger amputee. Funny thing was he also noticed I was a finger amputee before I said anything. He told me his injury happened so long ago (20 years) he often forgets he doesn’t have fingers past his first knuckle on his right hand. He was using a press and had his fingers in the wrong place; the press came down and completely crushed the top of all four fingers. You may have guessed it, but he won the ‘squash’ game.

Over time I’m sure I’ll forget now and then about my injury, but for right now the pain and discomfort in my middle knuckle keeps my injury in my mind daily. My hand is often cold since the circulation is not quite matching the original design. During my original surgery my pointer finger required some skin grafting which they thankfully harvested from the amputated part of my finger. The area with the skin graft is hard and calloused, not like a nice soft fingertip. I really have to pay attention during the cold Saskatchewan winters because my hand gets cold very quickly and my pointer finger seems to turn into ice. Occasionally I can be seen in the office wearing a black mini-glove, even in the summer … one of my co-workers calls me “Michael Jackson” … c’mon there isn’t even any sequence on my glove. I suppose I should just tell him to ‘Beat-it’.

I’ve heard that being an amputee is similar to losing a loved one. There comes a time when you’re able to talk openly about the person who as past on. Although nothing you do will bring that person back, you learn to adapt and the wounds heal enough for you to be able to celebrate their life. I realize my injury could’ve been much worse and I am very thankful that my hand is highly functional.

I likely began talking about my injury earlier than most people, but that also helped me deal with my injury and move forward. Remarkably, an extremely rewarding outcome of this whole experience was the opportunity to become a Safety Speaker and have the ability to influence others in a positive manner. Public speaking is something I have always enjoyed and now I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to share a motivating message that can really make a difference in the lives of many people.

I may forget a lot of things about my injury over time, but the one thing I will not forget is the entire ordeal was completely preventable. As you read this blog my hope is you can take my injury as an example then ask yourself if your actions are putting your safety in jeopardy and, if they are, decide to STOP Cutting Corners.

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