April 8, 2021

It got me!

With all the work I’ve done in my house since I came to France and with all that I still have to do, under a certain amount of pressure, before I move out on 30th June, an accident had to happen at some time. And that day was yesterday while I was removing the large forged steel gate hinge that had appeared hanging out of the wall in my living room when I’d cut back the plaster and rendering in order to make it good after installing my new sliding patio door.

The method that I decided to use – a circular cutting blade on my large electric angle-grinder – had its dangers and I knew that, the more so as I had to use it with its guard removed in order to cut the hinge off as close to the wall as possible. I’d taken precautions to keep well clear of the blade while it was in use and even until it had completely stopped spinning as experience has shown while using my small angle grinder that you can still get a nasty cut while the blade is spinning down even after you’ve cut the power to the machine. As a result all went perfectly, right up until I’d almost completed the job and the hinge was nearly cut right through.

Then, maybe precisely because there was only a thin slice of metal left that was able to ‘catch’ the spinning blade in some way, the machine suddenly jumped at great speed and with enormous force. Fortunately it missed the aluminium window frame which would have been impossible to repair and would have needed to be replaced if it had been damaged but before I could do anything, it struck my left forearm opening up quite a severe wound.

I won’t go into detail in deference to those readers who don’t have the stomach for such things, but my living room and kitchen took on something of the appearance of the Chamber of Horrors before I could grab enough kitchen roll to make a ball in order to apply pressure to the wound and run to seek help. This came in the form of my lovely French neighbour Chantal who I know can’t stand the sight of blood but who after applying a tourniquet to my arm under my instruction (which she was then told to remove before the first responders arrived) then called for an ambulance.

I eventually ended up in the emergency room of the brand new hospital at Francheville in Périgueux. By this time I was no longer leaking blood and was stable so waited while the staff attended, quite rightly, to more urgent cases. When the emergency doctor finally took a look at the wound he said immediately that it was too severe to be dealt with by Emergency and that I’d have to have an operation by a surgeon the next day (ie today).

I was in the middle of a phone call passing on this news when he came dashing back to say that actually there was a surgeon available who was going to come into the emergency room and do the operation there and then, so that was a relief. After I’d been tested and received an anti-tetanus shot, he duly arrived and after administering a local anaesthetic, got to work patching my arm up. As nothing had been damaged other than muscle, this only took about half an hour or so as it only involved cleaning the wound up and stitching the edges back together.

This doesn’t sound like much but it was about 10 cm long and 1 cm wide, so it took quite a considerable amount of skill on his part as well as lots of stitches and staples. I didn’t take a ‘before’ photograph as, quite honestly, it would have been too gruesome to share with anyone, but I did get the surgen to take an ‘after’ shot showing off his handiwork that I’ve shown below with the main detail blurred out.

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WARNING

I would strongly advise anyone who doesn’t have strong stomach NOT TO, but those who want to see the surgeon’s finished job can do so by CLICKING HERE.

The local anaesthetic wore off after 12 hours or so and even today I can’t say that I have much pain, unless I move my arm and stretch the stitches and staples that is. I had to sleep on my back last night and will probably have to do so for quite a few nights more but I have been strictly advised not to over-use my arm eg by moving heavy weights for at least a week.

The stitches are due to be removed in 12 days time so I guess I’ll just have to put up with the fact that I’m going to lose time for the jobs that are still outstanding in my house. Fortunately I’ve still got 2½ months to go so I should still have enough time even so and in the meantime I can deal with other matters – like my new-build, the land purchase and finding a caravan to put on it for after I’ve moved out, all things I can do without requiring too much over-use of my left arm 🙂