The Day I Lost My Finger
A True Story by Austin
This essay I am sharing was written by our eldest son, Austin, when assigned to write about a time when he overcame some type of adversity, as part of his Senior English class. Austin was homeschooled for most of his school years, and has been attending Heritage Academy, in middle Tennessee, for his Junior and Senior years. His English teacher reached out to me and said she thought I needed to read his essay. He gave me permission to share it.
I am proud of Austin. He is a good writer. I enjoyed the read, but also found it difficult to relive that time. He writes as only an 18-year old can write!
The Day I Lost My Finger
Growing up, I always liked doing things outside and helping out around the house. I always enjoyed being in the middle of the action and feeling like I was accomplishing something. Around the age of 7 or 8, I was given the task of keeping the lawn mowed. Now, our lawn was a lot bigger than the average lawns, and that didn’t really bother me too much. I enjoyed being active and took on the task with gusto. Things went well for a couple of years, but when I turned 10 years old, things began to get interesting. I had asked for a lawn mower for my birthday and waited hopefully for the day that my dream would come true.
One day my dad came home and walked inside with a twinkle in his eye. I wondered about what he was thinking but did not think much of it until I went outside later that evening. As I walked past his truck, I saw a new lawnmower that he had brought home from work that day. I wondered, “Did he really get it for me?” I was soon to find out. I decided that the best thing for me to do would be for me to go and ask him if I could “weed-eat” and hope that he would mention it without me having to ask.
“Dad? Would you mind if I weedeated for a while?” I asked.
“Sure” he said, “but I thought you would maybe like to mow.”
“Really? How would I do that?” I asked in mock surprise. Well as you could probably figure I was soon mowing away happily and living the life of a 10 year old guy. But, things were about to get bloody.
As I was mowing, I soon found that the lawnmower wasn’t cutting properly. “That’s strange,” I thought to myself. But as the problem progressed, I soon found the need to fix the problem.
But before I continue, there is something you should know about this particular lawnmower. I may have said before that it was “new.” It was new to me but not new. It wasn’t self propelled, it had no safety features, and to turn it off you had to remove the spark plug. So, with that in mind, the next few events might make a bit more sense.
Looking back, I still wonder what I was thinking. My memory is a bit faded as to exactly what I did, but I somehow put my hand underneath the mower where the blades were. You are probably wondering why I didn’t just turn it off before deciding to mess with it, but as I said, it had some problems. The spark plug would have been hot, and to turn it off would have involved extra steps. I tried to pick up the mower when I adjusted the height and, in so doing, caught my hand in the blade. At first I didn’t feel any pain and just thought I had banged my hand against the blade. I stood up and went to resume my job, but then the feeling of dizziness hit me and I glanced down at my hand. What I saw terrified me. All but two of my fingers had been cut and my hand was covered in blood!
As soon as I saw it, the pain hit me like a brick wall. I let out a blood curdling scream and began running towards the house. I completely lost all sense of rationality and ran up to the door and began pounding on it like a mad man.
My mother who was pulling weeds in the garden was soon by my side and trying to stop the bleeding. My dad, who had been at the neighbors house helping them with a project, soon arrived at the scene. As soon as he saw me, he knelt down and began to pray. He couldn’t stand the sight of blood and any amount, whether large or small, made him queasy. My mom was always more rational when it came to injuries. She is a nurse so when she saw him kneel to pray, she knew that wasn’t the best idea at that time. “Go find my phone and get my keys!” she yelled.
The neighbors were there also, and were trying to do anything to help the situation. My mom asked them if they could go look for the detached fingers, and they soon found them and put them in a bag of ice.
My parents soon had everything together and got us all in the car. We drove fast as we tried to make it to the hospital in record time. When we arrived, My mom hurried me in to the emergency room and began frantically trying to find someone to help me. I was soon put into a bed and told to wait while they figured out what to do next.
They numbed my hand to decrease the pain which helped the situation a lot for me. They decided it would be best to send me to a children’s hospital because of the possibility of them reattaching some of the fingers. So they put me in an ambulance and took me to the airport. I had never been in an ambulance before, and it was a new and exciting experience for me. I remember them strapping me down in the stretcher and loading me up inside.
When we arrived at the airport, they put me inside the already running airplane, and we were off to Nashville. The flight took about an hour, and when we arrived, I had fallen asleep. From what my parents told me, I was taken into the hospital and taken into surgery to try to re-attach my fingers. I do remember waking up sometime during the operation and hearing them grinding away on my middle finger. I wanted to look but couldn’t bring myself to.
The next morning, I woke up ready for the day. They told me they had attached 2 of my fingers but weren’t able to attach the middle one. At my young age, I didn’t really care and was only concerned about the game room I had seen out of the corner of my eye. While I was there I enjoyed playing with an electric train and some scooter contraption they had for us. I soon got tired of the games and toys though and decided to go back to my room and get some rest.
As I slept, a nurse came in and began changing my bandage on my hand. Of course that woke me up because of the pain associated with the adjustment of the wound. As I watched, I noticed that his hand looked very similar to mine. Three of his fingers were missing! Of course back then, I was really shy and wouldn’t talk to anyone so I didn’t have the nerve to ask him about it. But my mom did.
“So… how have you adapted to not having some of your fingers?” she asked.
“Well”, he said, “I can still play the guitar and piano, and there isn’t really anything that I haven’t been able to do.’’
Of course this was good news for my mom who was very worried and concerned I wouldn’t be able to play the piano again.
I was at the hospital for three days, and then I went home. Over the next few weeks my hand began to heal and life began to get back to normal. I had to go to physical therapy for a couple weeks to help my fingers to be able to move once they healed completely.
Through the next several months, I struggled to adapt to the new changes from not having the full use of my hand. One thing I have thanked God for since the accident is the fact that I’m left handed. If I had cut my left hand, I would have had to learn how to write, eat and do pretty much everything over again.
Through the whole accident, I learned a lot about trusting God and not giving up. If I had decided that the physical therapy was too painful or that I just didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t be able to move my fingers and would have been much more crippled than I am now.
I overcame pretty much every obstacle presented to me through the accident. I can still play the piano and guitar, and haven’t really found anything I can’t do. So, to anyone reading this, keep your head up and don’t give up. Always try to do hard things and never let an obstacle get in your way. Remember that no matter what happens to you, God will always be there for you and is ready to answer any prayer or question you may have.
“And lo, I am with you always…”
Post script from Mom:
I have two regrets.
1). I wish I had not told Greg not to pray. We needed prayer, and I didn’t mean don’t pray . I just wanted action, not stopping everything in our tracks. We were both right, but he was more right. We prayed while we drove, and that calmed me somewhat, although I cannot promise I kept to the speed limit.
2) Safety. How do you say you wish someone had told him not to stick his hand into a mower blade? I’m pretty sure he was given instruction, it’s just that that detail was not stated specifically, and he didn’t realize the blade went all the way to the edge of the decking.
Honestly, God knee I needed that male nursing student who showed us his hand–an exact mirror image to Austin’s tiny hand. This nurse had done the same thing–literally, at age 16, on a mower he was fixing, and sustained the exact same injuries, down to the silhouette of his fingers compared to Austin’s. Only God could have sent that particular student on our discharge day to Austin’s room.
And God sent random people out of the woodwork via phone calls, letters, and messages, telling me of their hand/finger injuries and how they’d coped. Most–I had never even known about!