LumberJocks

'This Old Crack House' #4: The One handed Carpenter

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Dusty posted 2711 days ago 3752 reads 0 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: The cast of charaters Part 4 of 'This Old Crack House' series Part 5: Mz D the lunch lady »

Did I tell you I’m a one handed carpenter?

Well, I have two hands but my left hand, although still attached, is pretty much worthless. In case I haven’t told you, I will briefly recap how this happened. The only reason I mention this is that it’s relevant to my story as a future carpenter and furniture builder.
Several years ago when I was a heavy equipment operator, I had a bad accident. While working on a brand new back-hoe, digging-in a new electrical line, I noticed some leaking hydraulic oil on a new hose located on the back hoe. I stopped and wiped off the oil with a rag and at that exact moment, the hydraulic hose exploded, injecting hydraulic fluid into my thumb and hand.

Not good.

My thumb and hand sustained serious and substantial injury. After eight surgeries and several hospitalizations over the course of a year, I was left with an almost non-functioning left hand. Besides the unbearable pain, I had four very long and ugly scars, a deformed thumb and several other complications with the hand. One is extreme sensitivity to hot and cold; the worst being the cold. When left unprotected in the slightest cold, it freezes almost instantly.

I live in Minnesota; enough said.

The hand and thumb with its unsightly scars is a constant reminder of the shame and embarrassment I feel to this day. I always have it covered or tucked in a sweatshirt pocket. I try never show the hand in public.

In short I am still ashamed.

Unable to move or bend the thumb, the hand has no real functionality. It is constantly throbbing with pain. I can really only use it as hook-like appliance because of its severe limitations. Picture a grasping claw that has no clamping strength.

Arthritis has really taken its toll on the hand and fingers. Permanent swelling, pain and sensitivity persist. A pocket of hydraulic fluid about the size of a marble is trapped in the web of the hand. The doctors tell me that this needs to be removed someday.

After all the hell I have gone through? “Over my dead body!” I tell them.

I am not mentioning this because I want pity. I had enough self-pity the first year of my recovery. I mention it because it permanently changed my life and ended my career in the construction field as a heavy equipment operator.

After substantial rehabilitation and learning to live with the pain, I enrolled in college to train for a new career. I began my retraining with a major in business and as a Para-legal.

I hated ever minute of it.

I am a farm boy. I grew up on a farm and have operated equipment of some sort all my life. I loved being around construction and all the trades.

Again, the only reason I mention this is that it’s relevant to my story as a future carpenter and furniture builder.

Especially, when I hire a crooked carpenter to help me with a project and he disappears with all my money and never finishes the job while leaving me and my client with a huge mess.

Oh the irony of a “crooked carpenter”.

(Protected by copy write, all rights reserved ,D.Jerzak 2-26-2007)

-- Dusty



25 comments so far

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2775 days


#1 posted 2711 days ago

Great story, Dusty, I’m well-and-truly hooked!

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2835 days


#2 posted 2711 days ago

30 years ago while in a drunken stupor I put my right hand through a plate glass window. Doctors said it’d never work again. I can hold a hammer and a saw, fortuneately I write left handed, but i’ll never play piano again. The fingers only close when it’s in a fist. And the little finger is bent in a funny little crook. They don’t spread apart or close so there goes my fast ball. It’s numb, so I only know if it’s hot when I see it on fire, and by then it’s probably too late. And when it’s cold outside my little finger gets cold fastest. Even though I can hold a hammer and a saw, I don’t really have any gripping ability.

I feel for you, but I have no sympathy. I see an overcomer. You have great talent, and it sucks to be limited. You are an inspiration. Somewhere there is someone, needing to hear that although you’ve been hindered, you’ve not been stopped.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2897 days


#3 posted 2710 days ago

Touching story, I’m glad to see that you’ve accepted it. You do some wonderful work. I think with some people they try to excel in their accomplishments, & you have done just that. It’s almost like a blind person, they get a keener sense of hearing. I had a fellow that worked for me, who had one arm. It was amazing what he could do. He tried to teach me how to tie my shoes with one hand, but I could never learn. It could be that didn’t have to.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2758 days


#4 posted 2710 days ago

and so the story continues…
you are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story.
The “life guide” in me has to ask, though, why “shame”?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 2909 days


#5 posted 2710 days ago

Dusty, I don’t understand why you are ashamed. You had an accident and you didn’t let it stop you. I once ran heavy equipment for a living. I injured my left wrist one day when I lost my balance on the cat walk of a dragline. Well, I was holding the hand rail with my left hand and when I lost my balance I swung out twisting my wrist. I never went to a doctor, just wrapped it in an ace bandage and kept running the dragline. It was a month before it stopped hurting. Well, my left wrist will get bothered when I joint a board or lift a heavy board, especially if I bend my wrist. My injury doesn’t compare to yours, even though it is a limiting factor at times, but I wanted you to know that we all have accidents and to continue in spite of them is a great thing.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2897 days


#6 posted 2710 days ago

Dusty,
Your mentioning about the ”Crooked carpenter,” reminded me about my ”Crooked Plummer”
I put a basement under my house back in 1968, & I was shopping around for a Hydronic boiler, & baseboards for the house. He stopped by my house one day, he had been a friend of the family. He told me he could get one wholesale for me, & save me a lot of money. About 6 months after I had finished the installation, a guy knocked on our door. He said he was from the plumming supply company, & said he was never paid for the system. He was going to put a lein on my home.
To cut this story short, about 2 years later, I had my old friend arrested, & he came up with some money. Then I went , and paid the supplier, & boy was he surprised. He always thought I was in cahoots with the plummer.
He then told me whenever I needed anything, to stop, & see him my credit was good.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Dusty's profile

Dusty

785 posts in 2754 days


#7 posted 2710 days ago

Obi,
I nod, and share your kinship.

Thank you. You said it all-and well-but shared your story thats what touched me.

You said it all, enough said.

Dusty

-- Dusty

View Dusty's profile

Dusty

785 posts in 2754 days


#8 posted 2710 days ago

MsDebbieP and Oscorner.

Briefly I will try answer the question, why the shame. I made a mistake, I knew better than to wipe a hydraulic hose down under pressure that’s leaking. That accident was preventable. That is where forgiving ones self comes in.

I’m working on that.

The real shame comes from the year following the accident where my self pity, feeling useless, and sinking into a deep depression profoundly affected me. With out saying to much more – as there is a lot left of this story to tell.

Remember i said when I wrote the first chapter…. its time and part of my healing.

Please be patience and thank you for allowing me to share my experiences- you have no idea how cleansing it feels.

Dusty

-- Dusty

View Dusty's profile

Dusty

785 posts in 2754 days


#9 posted 2710 days ago

Dick,

Been there.

Stay Tuned buddy.

Dusty

-- Dusty

View David's profile

David

1970 posts in 2737 days


#10 posted 2710 days ago

Dusty – What an incredible touching story. Thank you for sharing. I greatly admire you for a number of reasons, not the least of which is your spirit. You are very talented and a wonderful craftsman. I view and admire your projects and say to myself “if only I could . . .” You are a master of arts and crafts style furniture. I will consider myself successful as a woodworker if I can some day approach you level of workmanship.

As an Emergency Physician, I have seen this story many times. Not everyone recovers like you nor do they have your spirit and character.

I look forward to many more postings of your projects.

-- http://foldingrule.blogspot.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2758 days


#11 posted 2710 days ago

looking forward to hearing more of your story.

Following my husband’s suicide I developed a motto that I live by: “Love life; live life; and live with no regrets.”.
“How can you live without regrets”, I have been asked many times. Simple: I make choices and, with the information that I have, with the mood that I am in, with the motivations that I am dealing with at the time (etc), the decision I make is the best that I can do in that moment. I might have new information a second later but in that moment it was the decision that I made and then, after, I have new choices to make—to the best of my ability given the skills I have, knowledge I have, strength I have, mood, motivation etc. That was then, and this is now – so what am I going to do NOW?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Dusty's profile

Dusty

785 posts in 2754 days


#12 posted 2710 days ago

David.,

Thank you.

The one thing I left out of the story- because I’m trying to keep it as short -and to the point- so I don’t take lose the readers out of boredom – is the fact that I didn’t seek medical attention for over 12 hours. After the hose exploded other than being covered with hydraulic oil and mad at my self for being all oily there was only a small injection point/wound on the thumb. One drop of blood that was it. It merely stung. I simply did what ever heavy equipment operator or woodworker would do. Keep working until the end of the day. I wrapped it in a old rag I had until I could go home for the day and change get cleaned up and put a band aid on the wound.

Needless to say 12 hours later unable to sleep because of the pain and a red line running up my left arm that was distinct and climbing .

I drove myself to emergency room.

When I registered with the reception desk, I apologized to the lady for having to bother a Dr to come in and take a look at this wound. I was sure it wasn’t that bad and it was just the pain and red line that worried me. I lived at that time in small town so they had to call
Resident Dr in from over at the hospital and then page the Dr to come in.

The resident came in I told him I was sorry he had to come in on a Sunday-and what happened . I then suddenly got very sick and collapsed.

I awoke three hours later after the first surgery being prepared to be transported via air ambulance to a major city hospital. they hadn’t even closed the hand merely wraped it so that they could go back in again when I arrived at the next hospital to remove more of the hydraulic fluid.

Thank god I made it on time. I thank the Dr’s on call.

Another deposit in lessons learned in life account.

Go immediately and seek medical attention.

-- Dusty

View Dusty's profile

Dusty

785 posts in 2754 days


#13 posted 2710 days ago

MsdebbieP.

Thank you for sharing your deeply personal and tragic story.

You – and your strength and wisdom in turn inspires me.

Dusty

-- Dusty

View David's profile

David

1970 posts in 2737 days


#14 posted 2710 days ago

Dusty – I appreciate the extra details you just shared more than you can imagine! High pressure injection injuries are very difficult and frequently “don’t look bad” initially. I have seen this also with high pressure grease, as well as, paint from an airless spray rig. I think you are one of those typical stoic male heavy equipment operators!

Again your story and spirit struck a chord in my heart. I am glad you are ding well. I will say again that I would love to do with my two hands the same that you do with one good fucntioning hand!

-- http://foldingrule.blogspot.com

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 2909 days


#15 posted 2710 days ago

Thanks for explaining, Dusty and for sharing this private time in your life with us.

Praying that God is a part of your healing,
Mark

-- Jesus is Lord!

showing 1 through 15 of 25 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase