Sunday, July 22, 2012

Since I'm on a trip down Memory Lane,

One of the questions I've been asked a lot while demonstrating was "Don't you/Do you ever get burned?" Oh yeah. Look at my forearms and the backs of my hands in good light; they're fading, but you can still see lots of little burn scars. The worst, there's no sign of.

Follow me back to the Old Days. The forge is still under a tree in the back yard, there's an old refrigerator crisper drawer under it full of water as a quench tub, and I'm working on a spring fuller(somewhat like this, but forged in one piece). It'd been a nice cool night and was a warm day, good weather for this kind of thing.

So I'm working away, on the fuller and a couple of small things as the piece of spring I was using was heating. I'd done one part of it, moved it along in the fire, let it heat while doing something else, came back and grabbed it.
Note to anyone: when you grab something and hear a hiss, it is a Bad Thing.
I heard that hiss, and before felt anything realized that that piece was a LOT hotter than it should have been where I grabbed it.

Remember that quench tub? It was full of water. And leaves, and the dogs drank out of it*, and it would not qualify as anywhere near clean, but after sitting out all night that water was cold; I think it took less than a second from 'hiss' to hand going into the water. At which point I'm bent over wondering what it's going to feel like when I take it out, and the dogs have wandered over to see what I'm doing in their sipping fountain, and I'm still shocked enough I'm not even indulging in language practice. I finally took it out when the throbbing made it plain that just cold water wasn't going to cut it, made sure everything was turned off and went inside to inform spouse that a trip to the doctor might be in order, what do you think?

The doc's office got me in fast, and the nurse looked it over, poured a pan full of antiseptic and had me stick the hand in: "Let that soak until the doctor can see it." I've been hurt before and since, in various ways, but with one exception I think burns are the worst, and sitting there with that hand in room-temperature liquid... I really don't remember if I was saying or thinking anything, because the pain was overriding all other memories.

I finally got up(only about five minutes, I think) and stuck the hand under the cold water in the sink for some relief, just before another nurse stuck her head in and asked what was I doing? I sat back down and she looked my hand over, frowned at the palm and asked "What is this?"
I swear, she actually wrinkled up her face and went "Eeew!"** Not a confidence-building moment, I assure you.

A minute later the doc came in and looked it over: Think of the parts of your palm and fingers that would contact a 5/8" rod if you gripped it; 1st, 2nd and a couple of areas of borderline 3rd-degree burn. Ointments went on, followed by bandages, followed by 'fill this prescription' and some instructions to wife who'd been called in. The pharmacy downstairs had the stuff- Tylenol 3, the stuff with codeine- and I took one as we started home.

Once home, I remember pacing back & forth in the living room, because that was, at that time, the worst pain I'd ever been in, and the kids on the sofa watching. Then it started fading a bit, and right about 45 minutes after taking the pill, the pain just stopped. I'd never had pain meds before and hadn't been sure what to expect; this exceeded all I'd hoped for. Not fuzzy, not seeing things, it just stopped hurting***. It was wonderful, Better Living Through Chemistry indeed. One of those every eight hours through the first 24, and after that it was just an annoying pain, nothing like at first.

Wife had a long-standing interest in herbal stuff, and mixed up some kind of oil and herbs mix, and when changed the bandages put some of that on. I have no idea what was in it, but it apparently worked; when went back to the doc he looked it over and was amazed at how well it was healing. Said he'd thought they might have to debride some dead tissue, but didn't have to touch it. And it healed up very nicely.

And that is the story of the worst injury I ever had from smithing.

*One reason I laugh at people who insist "Your pet must have a scrubbed bowl filled with fresh water every 'X' hours" and such; we're talking about critters who'll ignore a freshly-filled water bowl to drink out of that tub. Or the birdbath.
**Found out she was new, this was her second day on her fresh-out-of-school job. Apparently "Don't make noises that make the patient wonder what the hell is wrong" training had slipped.
***Told this to someone a few years later, and he said it was disappointing I didn't get any high from it. My response: "Fuck that, it stopped hurting. "


Titan Mk6B said...

I don't understand dogs and water either. Faced with the choice of clean cool water inside or hot dirty water outside she will choose the outside every time. She will even ask to go out get a drink and then immediately ask to come back in.

Firehand said...

I meant that about the bird bath literally; I've rinsed and filled their bowl, then filled up the bath, turned around after turning the water off and watched both of them drinking from the bath.

Windy Wilson said...

Oh, I know about the birdbath. or the puddle in the concrete slab after you hose off the yard, or two days after the rain. Humans like flavored water (how many Coca-Cola distributors have become multimillionaires?), dogs like flavored water (I hesitate to think what doggy coca-cola would taste like). Dogs like different flavors. Dog food and doggie treats taste kind of smokey beefy-meaty. When a dog pees someplace, the other dogs don't go "eeew, somebody peed," they go, "hey, cool, somebody peed here, and I can tell all sorts of things about age, gender diet, health, how long its been here."

As to not getting high on pain pills, I understand that if you really need it you don't get high, but had you continued the pill after your hand healed there would be other effects.