It’s In the Bag

As promised at the end of my “9 out of 10” post, here’s the less serious version of what happened to my poor dear husband. Not that I’m making light of him losing a body part, because it’s really not funny, but sometimes you just have to laugh instead of cry!

*****************************************************************************
July 3rd was looking to be a busy but fun day. I had plans to hit a giant yard sale with some of my kids (2 were at camp that week) and my Mom, go out to lunch with them, then swim at my neighbor’s pool in the afternoon. Parts one and two of that plan went great. We got home after lunch and were surprised to see that my husband had gotten out of work early, partly because it was Friday and partly because it was the day before a holiday. I got the kids ready for the pool, said bye to my Mom, and headed towards my neighbor Erin’s house, which is two doors down from us. Jeff was going to mow the yard while we were there, which was quite fine by me. I remember that he even gave me a little whistle as I walked past and I smiled and waved goodbye.
Fast forward about 15 minutes max. Erin and I were chit chatting while the kids swam. I happened to glance over and see my husband and our dog walking across her yard with what appeared to be something in his arms. I was honestly confused. You may think I’m an idiot, but for a second or two I actually thought he may have had some kind of food wrapped up and was bringing it over. As he got closer, I could see dish towels from my kitchen wrapped around his one hand and forearm, using his other hand and arm to support it. Also, there was a troubled expression on his face that I picked up on. That got my attention for sure.
“Is everything okay?” I asked him as he got close to her deck. (Note–he was not a bit pale or sweaty looking or anything too alarming at this point.)
He shook his head and quietly said, “No, I’m not. You need to drive me to the emergency room.” This is the same man who didn’t even raise help years back when he was having a stinking stroke, so for him to say this meant something was serious! Erin told me to go and that she would watch the kids. I got myself out of there without even saying goodbye to my kids and ushered him towards our yard. As we got out of earshot, I asked if he had cut himself on the mower.
His answer was, “Yeah, I took a chunk of my finger off.”
Um, okay. “Do you mean like it’s a bad cut or like you cut the end of it off?”
“It’s off. I already put it in a bag with ice. Maybe they can reattach it.” Big gasp from me.
Okay, this is like seriously serious. Y’all, if you didn’t know this man was tough, get this—he gets his finger literally ripped off on a mower belt, then picks it up, takes it in the house, cleans himself up, and puts said digit in a ziploc bag with ice. Oh yeah, then calmly wraps everything up and walks over to the neighbor’s yard to get his oblivious wife. Holy Smokes. I think if the situation were reversed someone would have had to peel me off the grass.
So on we go, driving calmly (NOT!) to the ER, which on a good day may take 35-40 minutes or more. Okay, I was sorta calm, but only because he was calm. I did keep asking stuid questions like “Are you doing alright?” and “Are you in much pain?” pretty much off and on the entire trip. All this while simaltaneously gripping the steering wheel and trying not to flip out. Oh yes, and did I mention it was a Friday afternoon, the day before a holiday? So yeah, there was definitely extra traffic all over the place. Along with my dumb questions I kept apologizing 50 gazillion times for not getting there faster.
Bless his heart though. He kept saying “It’s not your fault Rachel. We’ll get there when we get there. Just keep driving.” All while looking eerily calm and clutching a wrapped mangled hand to his chest. And gripping a dishtowel-covered ziploc bag with a severed finger on ice. He assured me that there was not much pain yet.
We finally reached Lancaster City and I was anxious to just get to the hospital and get him looked at. Well, my plans were thwarted by a young Hispanic dude riding a horse down the middle of the street (you can’t even make something like this up!!), exactly in a section where it was impossible to pass. I’m not sure what the heck this person was doing, but he was enjoying himself, smiling and waving at everyone on the sidewalks. He even had a carload of friends behind with their fourways on and music bumping. Let’s just say I was not amused!!
Finally I was able to pass the “parade” and zip to the hospital. Thankfully we got close parking and the ER waiting room was not packed. We checked in and they got us to a triage room fairly quickly. In both cases they ask what the issue is. Both times my humble husband downplayed his injury, acting like it was merely a cut.
Friends, this was not the time to downplay an injury. I cut in and played Mrs. Patient Advocate. For the one lady who was asking him I had to quietly lean in and say, “What he means is the finger is not attached. It’s in a bag.” Oooohhh….that definitely got more of a response than a mere cut. It also got us in next instead of having to wait awhile. She peeked at the injury, then dialed someone up right away and we were ushered back almost immediately.
The next few hours were mostly waiting in a little exam room, first with various people assessing things and then pursuing whether or not to try to get someone to reattach it. Time was ticking quite slowly and we were trying to get used to the idea that he was going to be minus a finger for life. When first examined, they took x-rays of the stump and what was left, so during this time I had quickly hopped on Facebook via my phone app and threw out a prayer request. Friends, I can tell you that we really felt those prayers and had such calm and sense of peace about what happened and what was to come. We also had a few chuckles already and I even jokingly called him Stumpy once.
Dinnertime was then upon us and a very wonderful nurse who was taking care of him offered to get us something to eat. So we had a little box dinner brought for us and we had a bite together. We prayed and as we were eating, I got the giggles as I thought about our situation.
“What are you cracking up for?” he asked with a grin.
“Well babe, we’re having quite the hot date here, aren’t we? We’re in a little emergency room together, no kids, hunched over eating a boxed sandwich dinner, your hand wrapped in my bloody dish towels….all with your finger lurking in a bag not two feet away.” (Note: Said bag was also covered in one of my dish towels. They eventually ended up in the hospital waste as I was not about to bring them home and use them ever!! Also, for the curious, I did see everything, and praise God I did not get light headed and was fine.)
We both laughed together and our nurse walked in to us cracking up and kissing. She said that not everyone in that situation would be laughing right now and she was glad we could joke about it already. There were several laughs before this happened and many more since. So you don’t think me cold and unfeeling, I did have a sad little cry about it when I got home later that night. I had left him in the hospital overnight on IV’s and awaiting a surgery the next morning to in fact cut off more bone and stitch the skin up over everything. The reality set in more by that time I guess.

Though there have been many serious and not-so-fun moments since, but there has also been laughter and a sense of peace like I mentioned earlier. We are thankful that the mower belt didn’t take off more digits or his hand, and also that it happened on the non-dominant side. We acknowledge that it must have happened for a reason, even if we can’t see it yet. If anything, it has given us lots of time as a family and brought us closer as a couple. I think of this each night as I re-dress the stump.

To wrap up, I will share just a couple of funny things that have happened since the accident:

*Jeff got a random text from a former co-worker who he hadn’t seen in a long time, but apparently had heard about him through the grapevine. It read something like this–“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Your new Russian name is Cutachunkov.”  Yes, Cutachunkov. Read it out loud and you’ll get it.

*One of my 7 year old nieces made him a Get Well card. This is what it says: “Do not cut your finger again because if I see it I will faint.”

*Jeff ran into a teenaged son of a family we know a little, but hadn’t heard about the finger yet. This boy saw his hand wrapped up, but obviously didn’t look closely at it as you can tell that something is missing. This kid knows Jeff is a butcher, so he jokingly piped up, “What’d you do, cut a finger off?”

“Actually, yeah, I did,” was his response. Oh my, this poor kid felt horrible then and kept apologizing over and over to Jeff! My husband laughed and told him not to feel bad.

So you see, we’ve had our laughs, along with a wide range of other emotions. Also, many thanks to those who have been praying for him and for our family. It’s been a rough year, but God is good and I know He is with us in each step!

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