07/07/14 07:46 PM
It was a hot morning, the 4th of July. The year was 1994. I stepped out onto the carport with my morning coffee contemplating the repairs I had made to Vicki's Plymouth the day before. The fan belt that I had installed was still squeaking and it was bugging me. I had tightened things up as much as possible with my lame tools and still it squeaked. I decided to spray a little WD-40 on the belt as somebody had told me that might help.
I started the car and sprayed a little of the lubricant on the belt as it turned. Then, in an effort to remove the excess, I wrapped a dirty rag around the tip of my left index finger with the intent of holding it lightly against the moving belt. What happened next is a blur. I think the rag got caught up in the belt taking my hand through the pulley with it. There was a ka-thump sound and sudden pain. I immediately grabbed my hand which was still covered by the old greasy rag (a former undershirt I think).
As I hopped up and down trying to get up enough guts to look at my hand I noticed something on the carport floor near the front of the car. I quickly realized it was the end of a finger...my left pinky as it turned out. I ran inside and hollered at Vicki to get my finger and take me to the hospital. She then turned to John Jr. and hollered at him to get my finger and take me to the hospital. They put some ice in a baggie and dropped my former fingertip into it and we headed for the ER.
I had to stop at the ER desk and begin the paperwork drill (insurance, etc.) until my son ran in and threw the baggie on the counter. The nice lady then let me go straight back to the ER. I never did look at what was left of my finger. The ER folks quickly gave me 4 or 5 shots in my nub to deaden it and then we waited for the orthopedic surgeon to get there. The first thing he did was toss my fingertip in the trash as it had turned black in the ice. He told me next time to use milk instead of ice. I was pretty disappointed when he tossed it. He then matter-of-factly told me I had blown out my distal phalanx and asked if I had been shooting fireworks. He proceeded to clip the remaining bone shards and other assorted remnants off the nub and sewed it up.
I left the ER with my pinky shortened by an inch or so. I glanced at the hospital paperwork and saw that they had classified it as "self-amputation". I felt pretty stupid. Not quite Darwin-award stupid, but close.
Back to the present…
Today is my Dad’s birthday! Yes sir, Tom Pape is 87 years young today and still living the good life. Hey Pop, I hope the next 87 are just as good! Love Ya, Man!
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