Yes, the warning is for real. If you're a Facebook friend you may have already seen these photos so no need to take another look--unless you want to, that is. This is really a cautionary tale so it might not hurt to read even if you avert your eyes when the photos come up--they're all at the end to be more easily avoided.
First, let me say that a cautionary tale may begin by mentioning that something might be foolish or even, egad, dangerous to attempt on one's one. Next the story is told. And then the fate will emerge... in grisly detail!
This particular tale began to unfold around 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 20, when I went to the studio to spend the afternoon as I usually do, by myself weaving tapestry, doing design work, or other assorted things. That afternoon a new-to-me loom sat folded up in the studio. My husband and I had picked it up the night before, a small Baby Wolf loom. I had several things to do at the studio on Sunday but before I got started I thought I'd see how the loom would fit into the studio when it was unfolded. My thoughts ran something like this: "I know how to unfold this loom since I've done it before. I'll move a few things around and set the loom up quickly to see how much space it will need."
I knelt at one side of the folded loom and unscrewed the wing nuts holding the bracket on the wheels (the "baby stroller"). Then I went to the other side and took off one wing nut on the corresponding bracket. Next came the final wing nut to allow the bottom of the loom to be pulled apart. Suddenly--and I can't even begin to emphasize HOW suddenly--the loom collapsed with my hand somehow inside the frame of the loom. I felt a tremendous pain. "XX)(@(@(**! I've mashed my hand!!" I thought. I tried to pull my hand out and then realized I couldn't move it and there was blood--a cut. Then I saw it was more than a cut--I COULDN'T pull my hand away since I'd been impaled by a metal bracket that was firmly attached to the loom at one side and that went through the back of my hand to extend several inches past my palm at the other side!
I managed to get one knee under part of the loom to release some of the tension on my hand. By this point I was screaming. Of course, screaming behind a locked door and around the corner and several houses away from possible help (my husband) wasn't going to accomplish much of anything--except cause me to hyperventilate.
"I have to call Thomas! I have to call Thomas!" I thought and saw that my phone was maybe within reach at the opposite side of a table near where I was kneeling. I stretched as far as I could while balancing the loom on one knee and was able to get the tips of my fingers around the phone. I pulled it closer to me on the table and punched my husband's number. When he answered, I said "YOU'VE GOT TO COME RIGHT NOW!" He said, "Are you all right?!" and I said "NO!!!" The phone went dead as he hung up and ran for the door. Then I dialed 911 because I was beginning to bleed pretty badly and I knew I'd need more help than Thomas could probably give. By the time I was telling the dispatcher where I was, Thomas was unlocking the door and rushing in.
He quickly got pliers and took out the bolt holding the bracket to release it from the loom. But, it was still through my hand and so he pulled it the rest of the way out. He ran for a towel, wrapped my hand and told me to grasp it tightly and to hold my hand up. He helped me into a chair, then called 911 again since we weren't hearing a siren. As it turned out, there were several accidents in the county about the same time as I was creating my own accident and it took a few minutes for the ambulance to arrive.
When they got there the EMTs put me on a stretcher and loaded me up for the 30 minute ride to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. We chose to go there rather than our local hospital because we didn't know the extent of my injury and whether I'd need a hand surgeon right away or not.
As it turns out, the Emergency Department of Northeast Georgia was having an extremely busy afternoon and evening--several stroke victims, car and motorcycle accidents and more. An impaled hand was low in priority, so we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. At last, around six hours after we arrived one of the doctors was able to treat me. I'd had x-rays done by then and he felt that bone wasn't involved. He flushed out the wound, took four stitches inside, then multiple ones on the outside--both on the back of my hand and also in my palm. He'd called a plastic surgeon, who also does hand surgery, and I was told to see him the next day (yesterday).
When the plastic surgeon inspected my hand yesterday morning he determined that I didn't need surgery since what was done in the ER on Sunday night would suffice. He did say that I'll need physical therapy and that my hand may not totally function as it had before.
But, I'm typing with my hand right now and know that my fingers are working. I wove a few passes on my tapestry diary this morning--and can do that. The pain level isn't bad at all. I have a prescription for antibiotic and also for pain medication. I've taken only a couple of the pain pills and will try to do without those from this point on. I cleaned and dressed my hand by myself this morning, and was able to drive the car (although turning the key and shifting the gears is a bit tricky!) If I can type, hold a pen, pencil, and paint brush to draw or write or paint with, and if I can weave... those things are what I desperately need to be able to do. And, by the grace of God, I'll be able to do them all, I believe!
So the end of this cautionary tale may not be too gruesome. Lesson learned? Perhaps more of the same that seems to always be presented to me--be mindful. Be aware. Pay attention to now. I thought I'd learned the lesson when I fell a couple of years ago and gained a black eye from that experience. But I needed a reminder. A refresher course in humility and the need for patience has been given to me.
|This is the bracket that impaled my hand. It's 9 1/2" long, 3/4" wide , 1/8" thick.|
|The loom collapsed like so. I was at the left side and balanced the end closest on my knee while I reached for the phone that was at the opposite end of the table that's on the left--can only see one leg of it here.|
My hand was impaled by the bracket and wedged here. The hole at the left is where Thomas took the bolt out to remove the bracket and pull it on through my hand.
|Yesterday morning, photo taken with my iPhone as I was getting ready to go to the plastic surgeon.|
|After the nurse cut the dressing off and left the room for a minute I snapped a couple of photos with my iPhone. My palm side...|
Top of the hand yesterday. It looked much better today when I took off the dressing to clean and rewrap it.
|The loom as it should be. My husband and a friend put upright yesterday.|
I posted a comment in reply to Katie and Jan's thoughts that the loom company should be contacted... here it is, in case you miss it in the comments below:
Thanks to Karen Donde (who is a dealer for Schacht) the company knows about my accident and is taking measures to improve the printed instruction manual to include a clear warning about possible injury when unfolding the loom if the black knobs aren't in place as they should be. Additional warnings will be attached to the loom when it is shipped. Those printed changes are being made right now.
The company is also considering possible solutions to add to the loom as a feature that will make such a collapse impossible.
So if anything good (other than causing me to slow down a bit) comes from this accident it may be that others won't have to have a similar experience in the future!
Thanks to all for you the comments of concern! I appreciate them all very much.