FlashFlood

writing about writing

The Near Loss of The Little Hand

Posted by Flood on May 15, 2006

This is a cropped photo of my sister-in-law's (SIL) hand. (Her hand is held by my mother-in-law's hand.) This weekend the hand, affectionately known as the "the little hand" or "the claw," was almost torn off in a frightening car accident. She's ok, so now that everyone feels better, I thought I would share the story of the accident because my black sense of humour finds it hilarious.

First, some background on the hand. It's just a birth defect with no good reason. The x-rays rock out as far as weird goes. SIL is 26, very cute and one of those ne'er-do-wells that keep returning home to live with her parents. She is the source of many jokes and takes it all in stride. She loves the little hand because it terrifies children, makes her a good deal of money at the pool hall and got her first job in retail. My FIL called the store and demanded to know why his princess was denied a job because of her 'disability.'

One of the most moving things to happen about the little hand was my son, writing to Santa, asking him to bring SIL a new hand for Christmas. We made one out of paper mache, but the boy wasn't to be fooled. He saw immediately that the new hand would not be able to assist SIL in anything, so he decided Santa was stupid.

We all love the little hand. It's like an entity unto itself.

On to the accident: SIL leased a new Austin Mini last year when she was hired as a bank teller. The bank closed down in her little hamlet, so when she was offered a transfer to a location much farther away, she declined. Several jobs later, she just last month started as a sommelier at a vineyard that also has a restaurant in it. Part of the appeal of that job is wine delivered to each employee's door every month. The idea is the more wine they taste, the more adept they become at suggesting wines to clients. It's a great perk that had SIL very excited about her new career.

Coming home from the NEW! GREAT! FABULOUS! job on Saturday night, she was navigating roads in a pretty bad rainstorm. She had her cell phone in her lap, and as she approached a turn, it rang. Looking to the cell phone, she lost control of the car. The mini rolled and the airbag inflated, and SIL thinks she covered her face with her arms to defend herself from the attack. I suspect she may have had her hands up already in anticipation of impact during the rolls. The driver's side window shatters and her little hand falls out the window and is crushed during the horrifying rotations of the NEW! GREAT! FABULOUS! car.

No one is sure at this point how emergency services were notified of the accident, but they did come. The car had landed, finally, on SIL's poor little hand. It had to be rolled again, to rescue SIL, with "this really big noisy thing."

Awake throughout the ambulance ride to the hospital, shock must of kicked in, because all she reports about the journey was that her paramedic was "really cute."

At the hospital, SIL is alert and increasingly afraid. The triage nurse made "a lot of funny faces." Doctors and/or various members of the medical staff are all poking and prodding and SIL gets an oxygen mask and is told to remain still, that she will be fine. At some point she sees her forearm and all the skin and muscle from her wrist has become a sleeve, pushed up to her elbow and her bone is exposed. She tells me this was "yucky."

She knows they are cleaning up the injury to see how bad things really are when she hears the following (which is the part that cracks me up):

Sweet Jesus! She's lost some fingers!
Was there a fire? Some of her fingers looked fused together!
Ask the paramedics to find her other fingers!

SIL manages to explain that her hand has always looked like that, but her confidence in the medical profession is waning. Fortunately, the drugs kick in, and she doesn't care anymore.

Within hours she is in surgery; a metal plate will forever hold her forearm together. She has pins sticking out of her arm to hold the plate and bone together for a few months, but there is some concern about the healing process now, as some of her skin is turning black around the pins and she has no sensation in the little hand. That part is not funny at all.

What would have been funny is if she wasn't able to explain that the little hand was just being itself, and the paramedics spent a couple of hours looking for the missing fingers. Or, what if they found missing fingers?! Scary.

SIL's biggest worry is about her new job. She said to me with tears in her eyes,

"But, it's free wine."

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