This morning, I had a memory of working. It seemed every other day I would get a sliver of wood in hand and have to pull it out. There was a technique and ritual to it: See it. Feel the adrenaline rise. Did the wood break off with something to grab with tweezers or do I have to dig/cut it out? Most of the time I was fortunate and could just grab it with my fingers or tweezers, steal myself then PULL! Hopefully, nothing would break off. Once the wood was out, the blood would flow. There was a fascination with that. Ok, how much and how deep? What did the wood damage? A sliver entering a body while working is usually caused by impact. BANG! That sucker gets pounded into your flesh. That shock of OH SHIT! Then getting practical, assessing the point of entry and depth of the object. I had my own sliver kid. Tweezers, needle and nail trimmers. Nail trimmers used for broken fingernails and sometimes cut the skin to cut out a sliver. Cutting out a sliver was ugly. Small horror. You know you have to get the bastard out. TRY to assess how deep and long it is. Where is the end? Dig and pry at the end to get it to move and give me something to try to get a grip on all the while my stubborn flesh is dribbling out a little blood and making it difficult to see things. Best of circumstance a rich feeling of triumph grabbing the end of wood and ripping it out. A quick jerk. Going slow just makes it more painful. Pull and see that blood flow. Mild horror. Wash it off. Often some dumbass standing near the sink. GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY. They would, not wanting to be bled on. Scramble for a bandage from my work bag and maybe wrap tape around it. The worst things I would tell the boss about. Very hurriedly at the office window. He would often offer help but he we knew if that was needed by the amount of blood visible. I miss that camaraderie ;-) Often bandaging it, boss would come up to see if I was ok. Had to walk up a short ramp to my workstation. There was a lot of Machismo to this. I remembered some very bizarre times being lectured and bitched at for bleeding on the wood product. I take pride that some of my DNA is in Japan and other places now. That little brown streak was part of me.
The worst slivers I got were 1 that went into my palm. Boss offered to yank it out but I believed it was up against some tendons and so I went to a doctor. Soaked my hand for a while. Worst part was admitting to a nurse I was having a panic attack. She looked at me with disgust. Such a wuss I was! Panic attack from waiting a long time in a doctor’s office. I remember pulling my hand out of the antiseptic solution with a long stringer of jellied blood hanging down. WEIRD! Then the sliver pulled out. Thick bastard. Glad I did not let the boss yank it out. Would have done more damage.
The other very bad sliver was just a weird place. Got it in the outside of my thigh. Brushing up against a load. Pierced about 4 inches long. Went to a doc after work. It was stuck into a tendon and the pain was horrible. I think the doc was amused. Something different for him.
I remember with time and experience being careful moving around loads of wood. Beware the errant piece that wants to impale! Loading a truck on of scrap I slipped and fell down a 4 foot gap between palletized loads of scrap. A ragged piece of wood went through the back of my pants and scraped my anus (I found out later from bloody underwear). It was horribly cold that day and I think I was in shock laying there. I was able to yell for help before they closed the truck and sent the scrap wood and I off cross country. Oh where did worker #81 go? His car is still here… FUCK! CALL THE TRUCKER! I damaged my tail bone that day and still have trouble with my back because of it. For years something would go out of place and I would be in pain for a while. I was stupid to be so proud and NOT go to the hospital that day. I was stunned when I got home and saw the bloody shorts. It all worked out but it was another “shit lucked out” memories. I am SO glad it was not bad enough for me to get stitches. Ah the stories for health professionals to tell… “Today we stitched a factory rats anus!” Damn I lucked out some times.
I sometimes look at my hands and marvel at how few big scars there are. Almost cut a finger off one winter pushing a steel cart that hit a patch of ice. Stitches needed. Finger goes dead in very cold weather. Otherwise AGAIN… shit lucked out.
It’s funny how today I thought of those little cuts and all the frenzy and fuss about them. I miss that in some probably perverted way. It was exciting but a good excitement if no stitches were needed. It was such a bizarre other world of getting injured every day or so. Shaking it off. Laughing it off and getting on with the work, day and life.