Sunday, December 7, 2008

1976, or Cut me, Mick!

About five months ago, I was severely injured in a drunken bowling accident.  The recovery process has been agonizingly slow and quite painful.  I've been able to live with the permanent disfigurement it caused-the stares from people on the street, horrified children shrinking behind their mothers at the sight of me and all that.  However, out here at sea there are a few rules and regulations that I am required to live by and one of them is that jewelry of all manner must be removed when working with the winches and gear we we deploy into the sea.  In one manner or another, I've been getting around those rules and trying to be as safe as possible while setting a good example for those that work for and around me.  And it really wasn't working.  I've not felt right about it and faced once again with that sort of work in the upcoming days I finally decided to do something about it, one way or another and do it right this time. 

So, I confronted my horrible disfigurement, that being a swollen ring finger and especially the permanently destroyed, first knuckle that prevented me from removing my wedding ring.  I went to the medic and enlisted his help. He looked through all his medical resources; books, manuals, index cards and the like and could find no advice.  Finally, he professionally Googled, "How do you remove a stuck ring from a finger?".  We spent a half hour browsing ad sites, scams and general bad advice before settling on the technique of trying everything.

Soap, olive oil, dental floss, sutures, suture tape and the like.  No hope of removing it.  We pried, twisted, put all of our combined weight behind it to the point of nearly ripping my finger off at the first knuckle-exactly what I was trying to avoid in the first place.  I then cleaned up my finger and cried a little.  Maybe a lot.  It was that point where I was going to have face the choice of breaking the rules, possibly getting fired ( we really don't mess around when it comes to QHSE), or getting the ring cut off.

I dried my eyes and told him to hurry the fuck up before I had too much time to think.  He clamped a saw on it and cut the fucker...

Trying to pry off the mutilated ring served only to slice my finger to shreds.  Oops-forgot to look for any slivers still stuck to the inside of the ring. Personally, I think he was bored and was hoping to create the need for a few stitches... After cutting off the offending sliver, we then discovered the ring would still not come off and was also very springy, snapping back to rip through the skin if we tried to pry it apart and pull it off.  At this point I was shaking and upset and tending toward acting out violently against everything in sight, so I left.

I went to the mechanic's shack, seeking out tools and an assistant.  The inside micrometer didn't generate enough pressure to spread the ring.  The O-ring tool wouldn't hold fast on the halves of the ring.  We settled on two pair of vise-grips and a screwdriver to insert in the split and keep it from snapping back on finger.  Ripped more skin off my finger but the ring finally slid off.  My finger looks like it's been through the meat grinder and I feel the same way.

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