I haven’t felt like writing much since last Wednesday. Besides, I haven’t been able to. All work stopped on the build Wednesday (6/29) about 5:50 pm. I almost lost a finger. And I typed this entire message with 9 fingers: #10 is in a brace.
I was trying out the arch- and it wasn’t going well. After I built it, I re-calculated the vector forces while lifting- and found out they were almost double what I was expecting. I thought that by having the weight of the log carried by the arch, it would reduce the force needed to lift it. But friction is also a force, and in this case, it was working against me- adding to the weight of lifting the log. Not only was I lifting the log, I was having to drag it at the same time, so the 2,000-ish lbs of friction was being added to the 6,000 lbs of lifting- and not just regular addition- vector addition: the weight was really much greater- probably around 12,000 lbs.
I was using a 4-ton hand winch to pull the log arch upright with the log attached. The arch was awesome. The winch was too short, so I had attached it to the tractor and used a tow chain to attach it to the arch. Lots of moving parts in a heavy duty operation is a bad idea.
It wasn’t a very smart set up. Because of this, I was really straining the winch- the cable began to fray, which was very frustrating, along with the log not getting off the ground at all. But before giving up completely, I decided to get the log arch in a more vertical position. I looped the tow chain through the hook on the winch and started winching, but the loop was not evenly tensioned on both sides of the hook, so I stopped to adjust it. The links were getting caught in the hook, so I tried to adjust it and give it some relief- and the weight of the arch started the chain moving through the hook. It started moving so suddenly that I wasn’t able to jerk my hand out of the way, and the chain caught the finger of my glove and pulled it through the hook- and my left index finger with it- before pulling the glove completely off my hand. I screamed in pain as I looked and saw the back of my fingernail pulled out of my finger, and blood running everywhere. Afraid I might pass out, I called my wife, and said I had an accident, and that I was probably going to the hospital. I made it to the neighbor’s house, and almost passed out on their patio.
After getting some ice and a few towels to wrap it in, I felt like I could drive myself to the hospital. It was 30 minutes away, and I had to lean on the steering wheel the entire trip. I told my wife I was on my way, and she met me there.
Of course, there’s always a waiting line at the E.R. and people with so many problems.
My wife was there with me. We discussed the accident. I got some x-rays, and they confirmed the finger was broken- halfway between the tip and the first knuckle.
Maybe this is too hard? My wife was justifiably upset and scared- I use my hands for a lot of things- I fix my own cars, play piano, ukulele, sax, and right now, building this log home. I’m down for the count- can’t peel logs, can’t cut them, can’t move them. It’s a three day weekend- July 4 on Monday- and I’m sitting around on the couch, not working. I’m ambidextrous (use both hands equally), so although I write with my right hand, I eat with my left. And brush my teeth, shave, cinch up my belt on my pants- all with my left hand. It’s really caused a lot of thought. What if I had lost a finger? What if it had been worse? We discussed my recent injuries- head smack, possible broken rib, and now this broken finger- none are life threatening, but they could have been. So the risk is very high.
They finally call me back for stitches. I hate shots. I’ve nearly passed out from just the sight of a needle.
The nurse is saying “don’t watch”.
I’m saying, “that’s going to be hard. Don’t you have some sleeping masks or some way to block my view?”
She gets some safety glasses and puts gauze over the lenses and says, “how’s this?”
“Great,” I say and put them on, “now I won’t faint on you. These work pretty well. How many times have you done this for patients?”
“The goggles? You’re the first.”
Pause. Yup. I’m the only wimp out there who can’t watch someone sew up their finger. “Well they work pretty well,” I repeat, quieter.
My wife and I have talked a lot the past few days. What I’m doing is dangerous- even with safety precautions (I’ve done some risk assessment, and I need to reduce the number of moving parts in all of my work). I need a term life insurance policy. But we both really want this cabin. I can’t rest- I get depressed when I’ve got nothing to do.
I’ve got to be more aware- and careful, but I’m not quitting- I’m reloading.
Here’s the gory finger after the accident: