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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Stop!: How My Thumb Injury Continually Saves Me

This is a picture of my thumb. Actually, it's a little more than half of my thumb. The rest of my thumb is long since gone.

In 2007, I retiled my entire house, and then replaced all of the baseboards and door moldings with solid wood trim. I was about 90% done with the job and was exhausted. These two things never go well together. I was attempting to fashion two pieces of trim together using my biscuit joiner, and instead of using a clamp, I held one of the pieces on the ground with my hand. As the high speed blade contacted the wood, it knocked the wood out of my hand and pulled my thumb into the blade. Ouch!

After a several-hour surgery, including a skin graft and a pin to help repair the shaved down, split bone, I was on a several month trip to PT and rehab. The result is a thumb that leaves my kids staring, asking questions, and saying, "Poor daddy."

And I wouldn't trade this thumb for a whole one.

Every time I use my table saw, my miter saw, or any other saw or power tool, I hold the material with my left hand. My mangled thumb stares at me as if to say, "Are you being safe with what you're about to do? Shouldn't you be using a push stick, or a clamp, or something else to keep your hand out of the way?" Some of the time, I continue on with what I'm doing because I am being safe, utilizing clamps and safe clearances. But some of the time I realize that I'm pushing the boundaries of safety and need to step up my safety again. Thank you, thumb, for the reminder.

Recently, my thumb helped me realize another dumb thing that I have been doing. I was driving home from work and was at a red light. I pulled out my phone to check my email, and when the light turned green I started driving, keeping my phone out. And there, holding the steering wheel, was my mangled thumb, my Jiminy Cricket, saying, "Is this really the best choice that you could make right now, or are you doing something that would be another momentary lapse of judgement with lifelong consequences?" Well played, mangled thumb. Well played.

So of my fingers, my half thumb still reminds me to be safe. It is there staring me in the face when I am about to do something stupid, and hopefully it will continue to keep me from cutting off anything else.

So please, use the clamps, put your phone down, be safe, and keep your digits!

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