Wear your carving glove

Saturday evening, Debra and I were over at a friend’s place. There were eight or ten of us, total, sitting or standing around, just conversing. I was also whittling on a piece of Ash, making another little dog. I don’t know if my attention lapsed (possible) or if the knife just slipped (more likely), but suddenly I was cutting into my left hand.

Surprisingly enough, it didn’t really hurt. I stared at it for a second, surprised, then stood up and grabbed a paper towel to stop the bleeding. Then to the kitchen sink to rinse it, thinking I’d just clean it a bit, bandage it up, and go back to my carving. I’ve had plenty of minor cuts, so I wasn’t terribly worried.

I only needed a brief look at the laceration while I was running it under the faucet to know that this one would need stitches. My friend handed me a wash cloth, we secured it with duct tape, and Debra drove me to the emergency room.

The second surprise (the first was that I cut myself so badly) was that the emergency room was not full at 9:00 on a Saturday night. But then, Round Rock is kind of a sleepy place. I walked up to the check-in desk. The triage nurse was safely ensconced behind a window.

Nurse: “How can I help you?”

Me (holding up left hand): “I cut myself rather badly.”

Nurse: “The duct tape didn’t fix it?”

Me (laughing): “No, but it’s holding things together for now.”

Less than a minute later, I was sitting in an exam room with a RN removing an impromptu bandage while a nursing student looked on. When she got it uncovered she said, “That’s not so bad, but recovery is gonna suck.” I had what is (apparently commonly) called a suturable laceration. It was still bleeding a bit, so she had me apply a little pressure while we waited for the nurse practitioner to come along and stitch me up.

And waited. … And waited.

I’m not sure what he used to deaden the area, but it sure hurt like heck going in. I couldn’t feel the needle going in, but it sure hurt when he pushed the contents into my hand. But within a minute my thumb felt like it’d been shot up by the dentist, and I couldn’t feel a thing when he started stitching.

The cut, by the way, is about 7 centimeters (2-3/4 inches) long, running from the base of my thumb to the center of my wrist, and almost a centimeter deep. If you’re morbidly curious, you can see the result.

Then we got to wait a even longer. Debra and I got some amusement out of all the forms they brought in, and I laughed out loud when I had to sign a document saying that I received a copy of the hospital’s no smoking policy. Oh, and they gave me a 10 mg Norco tablet and told me not to drive, and a prescription for antibiotics and more Norco. I filled the antibiotic prescription but decided against the Norco. It didn’t hurt that bad.

All in all it took about 45 minutes from the time we walked in the door until my hand was stitched up. It took another 45 minutes or an hour before they finally brought the bill, took my payment, and then came and put on the bandage before I could walk out the door. Gotta love bureaucracy.

And all because I wasn’t wearing my carving glove. The glove is Kevlar, and probably wouldn’t have completely prevented the cut, but it most likely would have made the difference between a surface scratch and a trip to the emergency room.

I’d been lax, not wearing the glove because I thought I was good enough not to need it. Only takes one slip of the blade, though, to ruin your day. I’ll be wearing the glove from now on.

3 comments to Wear your carving glove

  • Ha, wow, found this totally at random, but this is eerie. I’m also a (fairly amateur) carving/woodworking hobbyist and on the very same Saturday night (April 20) managed to do the EXACT SAME THING to my hand in almost exactly the same location!

    Even weirder, I was in the process of trying to carve an animal figurine. o_0 I slipped with the carving knife due to a freak split second of inattention, and the next thing I knew, I was yelling for my SO and clutching for dear life at the split edges of my skin.

    I won’t link to photos unless anyone really wants me to, as the ones I took were horrendously gross (I got a couple in the ER just when they were starting to stitch me up). But I had to comment because it was just too darn weird! And to back you up on “only takes one slip of the blade to ruin your day”, because it’s the truth! My aunt has since sent me a glove made of what appears to be chain mail, so once my hand is healed up enough to actually be useful again, I look forward to enjoying its protective qualities.

  • Jim

    Thanks for the note, Anne. I’m sorry to hear about your mishap, but at least I don’t feel all alone in my stupidity. I hope the glove works out for you.

    I checked out your blog. You do some beautiful work. I especially liked the dachshund and the ebony cat.

  • You’re welcome, and yes, I have to admit that (while I would not wish this type/level of injury on anyone!) I feel like slightly less of a complete idiot knowing that accidents can happen even to people more experienced than me! Which of course just means we all need to pay attention, regardless of how many times we’ve done a thing. One thing I have come to realize might have figured into my accident is that I was not assuming the knife WOULD slip (which would have enabled me to know “don’t put your hand right there”). I should really always be maintaining awareness of where a slipped blade will end up, and should adjust positioning accordingly so that the slippage vector does not lead directly to my skin.

    I’ve done a few more pieces since my last post, including a neat chihuahua carving but have not had the opportunity to post it yet…will try and get some new pictures up soon. The ebony cat is a particular favorite of the ones I’ve done…ebony is easily my favorite wood to work with, though the sawing part is always pretty obnoxious due to the dust, and though it’s pretty rough on blades.

    Looking through your stuff a bit, I’m impressed with the neat bird and dog carvings. Very cool and full of personality! And the “whimsies” remind me of some of the things my (hobby machinist) boyfriend does with metal. He has cut out little “cubes within cubes” on a lathe and they’re quite nifty. But in any event…here’s to more completed projects that involve carving only wood and/or metal, not ourselves! :P I have had some injuries in my time but mainly little nicks and scratches…this whole 3-inch laceration business still seems like something that ought to only ever happen in medical books, not to real people! Ugh.



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