Brew Fridge – Part VIII: The Maiming
My dad is a full-blooded Irishman, and this genealogy was a heavy influence when my parents were choosing baby names. I’m named after Connor O’Brien, King of Thomand. I’m not versed in the history of King Connor, and not much is readily available online, but what I gather is that he died in 1540 of natural causes, having survived just 42 years. Advances in medical technology, sanitation, and societal structure have since improved the longevity of the human life, but these advantages are not inherent to all modern humans. King Connor of Thomand had 42 years to create his legacy, and if I provide myself the same opportunity, I have until the year 2032. The problem is, I have cause to believe I won’t make it.
Let me back up. When I was a kid, I learned everything through tactile feedback. I carved road systems through the gravel around our swing set, I smashed hot wheels with a dedicated and aptly named “crushing rock,” and my parents exposed me to a number of dangers early on; bouncing towards oblivion after my mom dropped me the back of an ornery pony, or freezing as my dad’s wherry rowing-boat floundered in the February waters of Clear Lake. I lived on 9 acres of pristine northern California walnut orchards, and I used it all as my playground of destruction. The consequence of letting your kids run around outdoors with unlimited access to property and imagination is that they can cycle through every combination of the two. My finer moments began translating to predictive patterns.
I once built a 7 foot tall brick skyscraper. The bricks weren’t mechanically constrained mind you, just stacked loosely until they formed a leaning tower on our uneven leach field. My dad caught me in time and told me to tear it down before it crushed me. There were three occasions where I got my head stuck. The first was when I squeezed it between the base of my bed and the safety railing (this was a large bed that sat on four drawers with a slide and ladder at the end). The second was when I tried to squeeze my head through a gap formed by the pontoon and the trampoline on our Hobie Cat sailboat. The third time was when I attempted to squeeze my head through my bed railing again. My parents quickly learned two things, 1) I had a huge head and 2), I didn’t have much substance inside it.
On fourth of July one year, I was playing tug-of-war with our Rhodesian Ridgeback. The rope was actually an old riding crop that my mom discarded. This crop had an exposed fiberglass core in the main body, a good reason for my mom to throw it out. After I retrieved it from our garbage, I went to harass our dog. As I was playing, she began to yank her end back and forth to remove the crop from my grip, a common dog tactic. My hand slipped, my right ring finger struck the fiberglass core, and a two-inch shard impaled it through the center and out. I spent the evening at the hospital.
There was another time during a family reunion in San Diego where we congregated at a local park. I had an ear infection at the time, but it didn’t stop me from taking a bike ride around the lake with the family. Halfway through the ride, a bee stung me in the infected ear. This paralyzed my neck and I couldn’t turn my head for two days.
There was also the time I walked around our dog run barefoot. The dog run consisted of two dilapidated dog houses and plenty of room to run. As I went to pet our dog, I stepped on an exposed nail on the ground and it punctured clean through my foot. I remember lying on my back in tears as my parents contemplated the long drive to the ER.
I’ve impaled my feet on fishbones, burned my hands on the pulley chair in my treehouse, blown up my face with poison oak, and broken my arm on the first day of summer camp. I’ve also been bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider. Throughout my childhood, my parents designated a new name for me: “Goner.”
I doubt King Connor of Thomand had such a diverse pain portfolio, so one could see how my existence in the modern world isn’t necessarily and advantage.. So what does this all have to do with this fridge project? Well, I’ll show you. (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES AHEAD!
I thought there was an age threshold for stupidity, but that just makes me stupid for not remembering that stupid is as stupid does. I’ve always known I was an idiot, but stupid is a hard pill to swallow. Now this isn’t even the first time I’ve cut my thumb like this. Years ago, my boss handed me a hose cutter for some vacuum lines and told me not to cut myself. Minutes later, I had sliced through a 1/4″ of my thumb, much in the same way here. In this case, no cutters were involved in the injury, and rather than a 1/4″ slice, this nearly removed a third of my thumb. There’s probably a lesson here.
I normally work without gloves in home project environments. My hands are usually mangled messes at the end of the day, but I’m not modeling these afterall. Funny enough, I’m strict on safety glasses for almost everything, and I wear a face mask around the nasty stuff, but gloves are always tertiary. I chose to cut these holes with shears, and to be clear, the process was working fine until the final round. I was attempting to bend my panel cut back to get the shears in position, and I was using some pliers and the shears to manipulate the piece. After a long day of work, and an hour into this, I was beginning to zone out. I applied pressure, then some more, and then a little bit more….and slip! The pliers slipped and my un-watched right hand plunged forward. My thumb sliced through a shard on the cut-out piece and within a second, blood was was spilling out over my floor.
Like my first responder training prepared me, I assessed the damage, wrapped the thumb, and drove off towards the ER; half a thumb on the brink, and full pride down the sink. The ER was a pleasant experience; 10 shots around the base of the thumb to numb it, one of which struck a nerve and made me cry out. And then the clot cleaning…
Hopefully I’ll learn a valuable lesson here: always wear protection! As much as I’d like, my stubborn Irish genetics have predisposed me to a life of hubris and self-inflicted pain. Worse than this is the budget for my Brew Fridge. I was doing great until I added a medical expense to this project. Hopefully those flowing Perlick taps can offset the literal blood, sweat, and tears. Then again, I’m Irish. I already know they will.