Feb 22, 2012

Gate. Horse. Bolted.

So what happened in your world last week?
Here in ours, my husband chopped the top off his finger.
And then we fixed the dangerous item that caused the problem. After 8 years of not fixing it. With a very simple, cheap and quick fix.

What can I say - Learn From Our Fail.

Here is what happened.

Our front door has no door handle on the outside. It was like this when we bought the house 8 years ago. It just has a simple deadlock like this:

From the inside, there is the little knob you turn to open and close the door, and deadlock it.

From the outside, you close the door by putting your key in and using that to turn the lock and pull the door shut behind you.

Except the way we actually tended to close the door was different. Especially when you have hands full, it was easier to shut it like this:
  1. hold the side of the door with your right hand
  2. step outside
  3. open the door wide 
  4. pull door very fast towards you
  5. whip your hand out of the way before the door slams shut.

I know this sounds pretty dangerous / silly, because it is.

So on Friday the unthinkable - or more likely the inevitable - happened.

I was at work and Y had a day off. We'd had the dog fixed 2 weeks earlier and he was due to get his stitches out. Y was going to take the dog to the vet.

As Y struggled with a handful of things including a wriggly, excited Pomeranian straining at the leash, he lost concentration as he slammed the door shut, and ... it shut on his middle finger and lopped off the top.

Aaaaargh!!  I know, I know - it STILL makes me shudder.

Y dropped the leash and the dog ran off. Y stared down at his finger-tip on the porch and struggled to believe what he was seeing. Then he called for an ambulance on his mobile phone. Then he decided he couldn't wait so he picked up his finger and went to his car to drive himself to hospital (!!!)

Not being able to turn the ignition, and starting to feel the pain, he went next door to ask for help. He banged on the doors of three houses before finding someone at home. Our lovely next door neighbor on the other side came to his aid. Y said something like "Can you please take me to a hospital, but first I have to find my dog."

So they went down the street calling the dog, and when the dog bounded up Y grabbed him, took him back home and put him back in the backyard. Then the neighbor gave him a flannel to wrap wround his hand and the finger tip, and drove him to the nearest hospital.

The nearest hospital was a private one which doesn't have an emergency department. They went in and were told a surgeon could operate but it would cost three thousand dollars. Y asked our neighbor to take him to another hospital.

So he ended up in the large and public Dandenong Hospital which has a very busy and respectable emergency department.

From there he called me at work, and said "I'm at the hospital. I've had an accident and chopped off the end of my finger."

I screeched and jumped up from my chair and said I was coming, and he said, "No, don't come - I'm fine, you stay at work. They're going to operate soon and I'll come home in a taxi."

Not only was his voice slurry from pain or medication or both, but the fact my very scroogey husband just said he would pay for a taxi to come all the way from Dandenong alerted me that he wasn't himself. I told him I was coming.

I wasted a bit of time sitting back down and standing up again, putting my hands over my mouth and feeling sick, sitting down, standing up, picking up the phone and putting it down. Then I closed down my computer, after carefully turning on the out-of-office assistant (?!). I told my boss and then my colleagues and then, finally, I rushed out.

At the hospital I arrived just in time to accompany Y and an orderly from the emergency department to a ward. The orderly wheeled Y and I followed, CARRYING THE PLASTIC BAG WITH A FINGERTIP IN IT. As we travelled through sixteen kilometres of hospital hallway, I joined Y in just not being able to believe this was happening.

Y ended up in hospital overnight, and having surgery the next morning. They don't re-attach fingertips, as the vessels are too small and they can't recover the feeling in the tip anyway. So he had a "skin graft" which sounds a lot less gross than it sounded when the head nurse gave us the details of the operation the next day.  Suffice it to say, he will end up with a shorter middle finger and ongoing pins and needles or pain in that finger for some time.

We spent most of that day in the hospital talking about the accident and trying to process what had happened. Y blamed himself and I disagreed. You can blame the dog, I said; you could blame me for scheduling the vet appointment on that day; but most of all the fault was with the design of the door and that thing called "bad luck".

So many bad things could happen to us at any moment, throughout any day. We pass through danger all the time. It could have been worse, much worse. It could have been two fingers, or the finger all the way to the joint, or {shudder} it could have been one of the kids.

We weren't completely unaware of this danger beforehand (though I always imagined broken fingers -  would never have thought a door could lop off a fingertip). We thought we were careful when closing the door and we never let the kids shut the door. Since this happened Y has been lamenting the fact that we had never fixed the door. But I have to admit it honestly had never occurred to me. We bought a house; the door had no handle on the outside - that's just the way it was. It was annoying for sure, but I suppose I somehow just thought (without thinking, obviously) that this was the style of door we had acquired, and that was that.

But we have now fixed it. A simple door handle from the hardware store, and a quick extra job from a handyman we had round for something else, and our door was fixed:

So now it's four days later, and Y is spending most of his time at home, taking antibiotics and painkillers and feeling bored and glum.

Apart from the obvious horror of the whole thing, the timing was not great. (Not that I can imagine good timing for chopping off a finger, but you know what I mean).

Having been made redundant from my full-time job in November, I had just started a new job working part-time, for less money (even pro-rata) than I was earning before. Don't get me wrong, I love this job and my new life, but I am not due to be paid for a little while. Y's job pays weekly and only for the days that he works. He won't be able to work for two weeks, and is obviously not able to do much at home. Even when he isn't in pain, he must be very careful not to knock or hurt his finger in any way to make sure the skin graft will take.

So, we're belt-tightening for awhile, and I am doing everything at home (FOR A CHANGE HA HA! No, actually this has made me realise how much Y does do - I had probably underestimated that I confess).

And you know they say bad luck comes in threes?
In the same week the dishwasher AND the vacuum cleaner both died. The dishwasher had been terminal for some time, but the vacuum cleaner was unexpected.

So while you feel sorry for Y, spare a thought for ME: I'm hand-washing dishes AND sweeping floors. Sad face!

Have you ever injured yourself in your house?
Is there anything you should have fixed but only got around to fixing after something bad happened?


  1. Oh Jackie, that's awful - for hub, for you, for the finances ..... We used to have a front door like that too and did the same 'rapid shut, whip out hand' motion.

    Amazing what a basic handle can do for safety, isn't it?

    And I hear you re financial pain. Life here in Geneva is much, much tougher than we thought and we're still getting bills trickling in from Sapphire's stomach ailments in Oct-Dec and know that we'll soon get the final 25% of her school fees bill arrive any day now and then the dog cost us 400 francs yesterday when she contracted a bladder infection and I spent the day mopping the floor and washing everything she sat or slept on......

    Time for some chocolate I reckon!

    1. Oh I'm so glad to hear it's not just us who shut the door that way!
      Finances are a bitch aren't they? You never seem to get in a really good place. Just when you think things are looking up, BAM.
      Eg unexpected dog bills!
      Feeling your pain - yes, go for that chocolate!

  2. Hi Jackie,

    I didn't want to read that - but I did and now I feel quite poorly.

    I hope your hubby is recovering.

    I am so squeamish!!




    1. Hi PM,
      I KNOW! I don't think I am too squeamish, but this thing made my feel sick for three days!!!
      He is much better now thank you - we have a hospital checkup tommorrow so hopefully things are going well.

  3. Gotta say, I always wondered about you not having a handle for that front door of yours - glad it's fixed and Y's on the mend.

    I'm looking at replacing the mats in my lounge that I regularly nearly trip on - one day.

  4. Thanks Ms P.
    Yes mats are a good one - can be very dangerous. Maybe you can stick them down somehow - thumbtacks?!



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