Sunday, August 31, 2008

facts & fingers/A MIRACLE on Dupont Street

One month has passed since I severed the two tendons in my left hand, and the process of healing is advancing slowly but steadily. I have recently been fitted with a new, space-age splint, which is a major advancement from the smelly, dingy piece of plaster I've had bandaged to my arm since the surgery.
I've also been receiving quite a barrage of hospital bills, which, coupled with my virtual inability to generate any sort of income, has left me crippled financially to boot.Fortunately, the cost was nowhere near as high as I'd expected. I like to think of it like I bought artwork from a very talented artist, who happens to be a surgeon, and it's an installation piece involving my hand. I've actually sold artwork in the same range, and the purchase was definitely something I needed, utilitarian even: a hand. The discount for not having insurance was HUGE: more than 75%! Added to Obama's amazing acceptance speech Thursday, my faith in humanity grows.
Once the swelling goes down, I'll be able to begin regaining usage, until then I have time to reflect upon and appreciate the kinds of things we often take for granted. In addition, my direction has been shifted. After a decade of focusing solely on making sculpture, I find myself unable to continue, and am forced to seek other routes of creative release.

One particularly latent talent involves storytelling, so, as promised in an earlier post, I will reveal the specifics of my accident. Unlike Cindy McCain, this was more than a handshake injury. I won't go into the moments leading up to the event, but will admit it was very early in the morning and I had been out having drinks with some friends beforehand nearby.

I felt it too late to call my roommates when I realized I'd forgotten my keys, and in a tragic moment of bravado, decided I would climb to my terrace and let myself in. I got the idea that this could be done about a year ago, when, sitting at my computer reading the news, I was startled by a knock on my window. A roommate had found himself in a similar circumstance and scaled the wall. I could picture the succession of steps involved, and figured if ever in the same bind I could easily do the same. I had planned this; it was waiting for me.
I'm comfortable with the idea that man evolved from monkey. I eat a banana daily, and have always considered myself capable of pulling my body into the air, even without a tail. This was a quick succession of 6 foot climbs, and given the layout of the roof, I would never be more than dropping distance above a safe surface. The first step involved shimmying up a drainspout to the top of a rollgate.
Unfortunately for me, in the darkness, I approached the project hastily and paid dearly for my lapse in caution. The first thing I grabbed was a piece of stainless steel that held the drainspout to the building. It offered a great handhold, yet ran at a terrible angle towards the pipe, probably to discourage people from climbing it. When I tried to free my hand for the next step, I found my fingers hopelessly stuck, pinched by my bodyweight against the curve. Dangling 8 feet from the ground, unable to go up or down, I experienced a sensation similar to sheer panic, but worse. As I struggled to free my fingers, my strength began to give out. I have never felt so helpless or scared in my entire life. I remember thinking I needed help, then seeing blood.

The next thing I recollect is sitting on the front steps to my building, around the corner and down the street, looking down at my fingers, and realizing I was seriously injured. I'm not sure what happened between but I assume it was a miracle. I pulled my phone from my pocket and began to call roommates, over and over, trying to keep pressure on my fingers while I did so. Eventually I gave up, put my head down, and was sick several times. I'm not sure how many minutes passed before my telephone rang, but I remember snapping awake and croaking into it that I was hurt. By the time I had climbed the stairs, my energy returned. I rinsed my fingers in the sink, doused them in peroxide and wrapped them up tight.

As wrong as it seems, my greatest worry was having no health insurance, and I waited more than 12 hours before finally agreeing to go to the emergency room. Crazy. Eventually, I was dragged by a concerned friend to St. Vincents in Manhattan. I was fortunate he did so when he did. My injuries would never have healed had I not, plus I risked near certain infection. I could have lost my fingers or worse. As it stands, I am on the road to recovery, lucky, and thankful for having great friends and hospital staff.

What did I learn? That I'm not invincible. Darn. So much for that theory.


Serendella said...

but some of us like dancing down that yellow brick road pretending to be invincible...

sorry about this crashing blow you have sustained, it ripples thru me as an artist to hear about your injury...

will always follow your work while looking past my own wizards of oz...

Anonymous said...

thanks for telling the story. i was curious about what happened. very glad you made it away from the experience all parts intact, and wishing you a full and complete recovery.

i noticed you made remarks of a political nature and wanted to pass along a link to an interesting idea if you had time and felt like it. it appears to be anti-elite, but it's really not:

Ted Stanke said...

Thanks for the link. I'm addicted to research, and want to know everything eventually.

As for my accident, it was a pretty dumb thing,and we're all human. I try not to regret my actions but there are times when you've gotta smack yourself upside the head.


oh well, live and learn. I won't do THAT again...