Bloody Stumps

Or, "The Information Highway"

It happened like this: Joshua was sending a tiny piece of molding through the saw, pushing it with a push-block (a brilliantly named invention designed to keep a woodworker's fingers away from the saw blade when cutting a very small piece of wood). The piece of molding bound (the woodworker's way of saying that it stopped going through and started to kick back), Josh grabbed for it to keep it from shooting off (which sounds very funny, but which it turns out can be as dangerous as launching knives at random from a cannon), and it pulled his hand into the saw blade. He remembers not realizing that he'd hurt himself, turning off the saw, then seeing the blood. His boss's wife had just come to the front of the shop for some reason. He said her name in what he remembers as a calm voice, although reports differ varying on who you ask. What doesn't differ from one witness to another and what makes his version of events slightly less reliable is the fact that everyone remembers his boss's wife sprinting to him as soon as he "said" her name.

While this was transpiring, Oak and I were getting up from a restful midmorning nap and starting some delicious pasta salad for lunch. I was just draining the pasta and vegetables when my phone started ringing. It was my mother-in-law. That's odd, I thought. She's in Kansas City until Thursday [Often in anecdotes, I find I think in exposition.], but maybe she wants to know what size pants or something Oak is wearing these days so she can buy him something. And so, with my free hand, I answered.

eden: Hello?
Mother-in-Law: [obviously crying and a little hysteric] Oh God, just tell me what happened!
[I admit, I wasn't prepared for that.]
e: Um...what are you talking about?
ML: Oh no! I'm sorry! I thought you knew!
[I'm fairly certain she was going to hang up without telling me.]
e: Well, you can't not tell me now.
ML: [crying harder] Joshua! He got caught in the saw!
[And now I'm thinking that my husband is either dead or dying or one-handed. He just sent me a text message an hour ago that said, "I love you!" but because I was taking a nap, I didn't respond. How ironic will that make the story SLEEP that I wrote sophomore year? I think this as I finish draining the pasta.]
ML: My Tom said {Josh's boss} just came into the restaurant and said {Josh's boss's wife} is taking him to the emergency room. He didn't know how bad it was because he got there just as she and Josh were leaving.

Some hope returned at that point. Josh was walking, so at the worst, he was one-handed. I did my best to calm my mother-in-law down and told her I would find out what happened and call her when I knew. Until we knew for sure what happened there was no reason to get all worked up. I remember thinking how strangely calm I felt the whole time we were on the phone. I imagine it's easier to feel calm in high-stress situations when someone else is panicking.

Because I didn't have any of the numbers for Josh's work or his boss's phone or his boss's wife's phone, I called Josh's phone. It just stood to reason that he'd have it with him. At that time, my father-in-law knocked on the door. He said he would have called, but he didn't have my right number. He was much calmer in repeating the story of Josh's boss coming to the restaurant to tell him that Josh was on the way to the ER. I told my father-in-law that Oak and I were leaving for the hospital as soon as we called to find out what exactly the doctors knew so far. I did and then we did.

While all of these conversations were lighting up the cell phone towers and people were driving crazily around Missouri to get to the hospital or notify other people whose phone numbers they didn't have, I was packing some pasta salad in a traveling dish for Oak, getting him and myself dressed, and trying to find someone to watch him while I went to the ER. I actually got a surprising amount accomplished. Only the last task was still unfinished when I left the house, and that was resolved when my sister (who lives near the hospital) called me back as I was getting to town.

I dropped Oak off and went to the hospital to find my husband lying in a trauma room, much like the one he was in the night of his wreck, except this time Josh had bloody gauze over his hand. (Strangely, you really do think about these parallels when you find yourself in these situations.) Josh's boss and boss's wife left to fill out paperwork then and I got caught up on all that had happened and got to look under the bloody gauze as well as field the frantic calls that were coming to his cell phone and mine.

Here is the result of Tuesday: Josh is not one-handed and he still has ten fingers. Although there are sawtooth marks running in a diagonal pattern up the first two fingers of his left hand, only the tips of those two fingers were cut off. He even has most of his fingernail left on each one. An x-ray determined that he hadn't hit the bone, so there was no need for surgery. There really wasn't anything to stitch back into place, so they just cleaned and bandaged up the stumps. Apparently, fingertip injuries are desirable compared to the other sorts you can get from a table saw. And we might as well just come out and say it: Considering that the saw grabbed lower down on Josh's fingers first, it's a miracle he has any of them left. Thank God for that and for Worker's Comp.


Babies are not Pets

This particular post is dedicated to everyone who has asked me what it's like to be a mom: friends curious about babies, sisters who are trying to have babies, brothers who aren't trying to have babies yet (I hope), and various people infected with baby-fever.  They all want to know,
"Eden, what's it like to be a mom?"

Why ask me? (That's not what I say, but it's definitely the first thing I think.) Why not someone else who is obviously doing a much better job, maybe even someone who was cut out for this line of work? I can name ten of those moms off the top of my head.

Why they ask isn't the point. The point is that they do ask. Even more so, the point is that, when I tell them, they don't believe my answer.  I don't have any motivation to lie to you. Please believe me: Being a mother is weird.

I realize that's not what Google will tell you if you ask, but it's true. Try to imagine this: You have this lump that breathes and eats and poops and cries. That's all it does for three or four months. You get stressed out if it does one of these functions too much or too little because that's really all it does. Then one day this lump smiles. You realize, "Hey, it's not just a lump! It likes me!" Not long after that, it starts moving around when you lay it down. You think, "You know what, it's just like a cat. I feed it, clean up after it, pet it, share my house with it..." but it isn't like a cat because, pretty soon, what used to be a lump starts making sounds.

"That's not so weird, eden." Let me finish.

This thing that, just a few months ago, you were begging, "Please, just tell me what you want, I don't understand what you want!" starts talking to you.  Not just, "Feed me, hold me, change me!" Now it's telling you things like, "That's an animal, I like blueberries, good morning, read me this book."  Your cat has never been interested in saying anything to you except "Refill my food, pet me."  And your cat sure never got your jokes, which is what's about to happen with this thing that used to just lay on its back and stare at you.

"I guess that's a little weird."

Wait! Now this thing that used to be an immobile, crying lump wants you to laugh at its jokes. It gets mad or feels disappointed. Its feelings get hurt. It smiles for no reason or makes an expression you've only seen on adults. It talks in its sleep. It wants to hug you. It wants to know what you're doing.  It wants you to know what it is doing.

Pets stop learning after a point. Who knows why? Maybe they've satisfied their curiosity with life, maybe they're at the end of their intelligence. Whatever it is, they're done. Babies don't stop. They just keep going from lump to creepy-crawly to tiny person and whatever lies beyond.  Watching that is weird.