The Degree of Agony
Have you ever been advised to wear safety goggles? Have you ever ignored that advice, and lived to regret it? I would have to have extra memory installed, to remember all of the times this has occurred, but I do remember the time I regretted it the most. The end result was Dr. Glyer, strolling through the waiting room at Baechtel Creek Health Center, smiling maniacally at Annie, while holding a drill loft in the air, saying, “We’ll get that metal out of his eye one way or another.”
Rob and I were doing a foundation for a couple who lived down in the city. He was a dentist, and she was a retired school teacher. They were having a log cabin kit built on their site, and Rob and I were hired to build the foundation, and the build-up, so that the crew assembling the log cabin kit, had nothing more to do, than attach the structure, to our built-up floor. It was a hard job, because there were only two of us and the dimensions were 28 by 40. We just thought of it as job security.
There were a million floor joists, but they went quickly. Somewhere along the way, I set a 16-penny sinker, and prepared to give it the two thwacks of the hammer I needed to sink it through green fir, when a funny thing happened. Not funny, ha-ha, but funny as in, “Oh, I wish that had not just happened.” I was walking on the 2 by 10 floor joists, which were turned on edge, and blocked four times across the 28 foot expanse, so they weren’t moving, and nailing in the joists and blocks from above.
All was proceeding nicely, when a fleck of steel from one of those nails, rocketed into my right eye, nearly knocking me off me feet, not by the force of this tiny speck of steel, but by the surge of white hot fire that burst out into my brain, searing it with the heat of pain.
I have blown out my anterior cruciate ligament; I have had kidney stones; I have had a puppy bite down on the top of my big toe, with his needle teeth, just after my doctor had removed my big toe nail, due to an ingrown nail. Those are three examples of some serious pain. But none compares to the savage nature of having a piece of jagged steel, go ricocheting off the point of impact between 22 ounce hammer, and steel nail. All that is left is the degree of agony.
I staggered down off the build-up, hunting for a faucet, a water bucket, anything to douse my blistering eye with water. This being pre-cell phone days, Rob drove me home, which meant going back up Bell Springs Road, so that Annie could drive me down to Willits. because it was in the summer, we dropped the boys off at Pauline’s, on our way out of Dodge, and we zipped down to Baechtel Creek Health Center, to see my good friend John Glyer.
John and I went way back to September of 1982, when Casey was born, and John was the physician on duty that night, so he gave Casey his first exam. He was eventually to diagnose Casey as wheat intolerant, back when he was still only a year old. Now he took a look at my eye, hemming and hawing about my lack of safety goggles.
“I have them--I just don’t use them,” I said. “It’s just such a pain in the neck, swinging a hammer when you can’t see.”
“Why can’t you see?” he asked.
“Because my perspiration creates a fog inside the goggles, and they get all steamed up.” I had been trying to solve this one forever.
“Then I think you have the wrong goggles. You also have a chunk of metal in your eye, that is not going to come out, without a struggle. We’re going to need the big gun for this.”
“What big gun?” I asked suspiciously.
He just grinned at me, as he left the examining room, only to return two minutes later with a drill. I am not kidding. I could not tell that it wasn’t the exact type of drill, that I had in my own tool box back at the job site.
“What are you going to do with that?” I was sitting up straight, on the exam table, the paper under me, crinkling in protest.
He just grinned. “Sometimes it pays to have the right tool,” and he pulled on his safety goggles, just to make a point, I am sure. I do not remember feeling anything, but I think that may have been, because I was shocked into submission. I’d like to say the whole experience prompted me to become a lifelong advocate of safety goggles, but I still sweat up a storm when I work, so goggles continue to get steamed up.
But since I do not have to pound nails anymore, I think it will be all right. After all, the sawyer only has to worry about sawdust, and Dr. Glyer doesn’t need a drill to remove sawdust.
I still can’t believe he used a drill to extract a piece of metal from my eye.