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Friday, October 25, 2013


I thought I lost my left hand ring fingertip a few days ago. No exaggeration.

You remember the guy who got his arm stuck in a rock crevasse almost 10 years ago? His name is Aron Ralston. He was 27 at the time and while exploring a rock canyon on his own, an 800-pound stone fell, trapping his hand in an inescapable position. After five days alone and dying, he realized he had to cut off his arm to survive. So he did.

I had major empathy for him... as did most everyone else. It was hard to imagine what that must have been like because almost none of us have ever been in a situation like that before... at least, not been in an impossible situation and lived to tell about it.

Well, I kind of was. Oh, I didn't languish. I didn't have to drink my own urine to survive like he did. My wife was there and she could have brought me ice tea while I awaited almost sure death.

But the fact is, I was totally trapped and couldn't free myself. That was a very odd feeling... something totally unexpected that happened in a fraction of a second. Oh sure, you may say... a fingertip? HEY! I really did think I would loose my fingertip.

I was retracting the awning of our small RV into its traveling position when one of the side rails didn't fit correctly into its housing. So I placed my left hand behind it to force the inner piece in place. I was so successful that the tip of my finger became wedged between the two pieces which had now snapped into its full retracted position... with me trapped. My hand was stuck on one side of the rails, pinned against the RV's side... and my finger was solidly caught on the other--with the tip curled back like a hook--stuck tight. The awning was now locked in a non-retractable, closed position holding my fingertip as hostage with me out of reach of any object that might be of help.The strap which could help open it had rolled up into the folds of the awning, out of reach.

After just a few painful moments, I quickly realized that I was in that impossible situation and had no way to get loose... at least none that I had examined as my life passed before me in those fleeting moments. I really was stuck... and in pretty good pain.

Then I quickly and calmly thought, "Hey, I can holler for my wife to help. So I did. And we both had to puzzle through a solution. It took about 10 minutes to evaluate how to get my finger out at any cost. She quickly found a rod and managed to pry the two pieces apart... just enough for my finger to come loose.

My poor finger was flat... really flat at the tip and numb, with my fingernail a Halloween greyish-purpl, sporting a large blood blister underneath. It took about an hour for me to realize that the finger was regaining its form and I had a good chance at a full, non-amputated recovery over time. Three days later, at the time of the photo, it is still one painful puppy but, like Aron Ralston, I can now appear on all the talk shows and write a book (like Between a Rock and a Hard Place )  if anyone would ask. I think I'll title it Don't touch me there... ever, or I'll kill you.

"Honey, I will have that ice tea now."

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