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Log Splitting Accident

hand split wood pileThings have been a little quiet on the blog because we have been dealing with a little log splitting accident. If you are a facebook fan, I alluded to the incident but figure it's time to spill the long story here. A week ago Thursday, Alex was splitting some logs in the backyard. Our kind friends gave us two ash tree's worth of wood stove fuel after the trees were taken down by arborists.

The wannabe lumberjack was driving a steel splitting wedge (actually a reclaimed axe head) into a large log. Upon striking it with the back of the splitting maul, a shard of metal flew through Alex's shorts and into his upper inner thigh. Feeling only a punch with an intense burning sensation at first, he stepped back and touched his leg. When he straightened up and looked at his gloved hand, he found it covered in blood and more dripping down his leg.

Alex rushed inside and de-pantsed. He applied pressure and was able to stop the bleeding but not before Lillian saw him. She was terrified.

Meanwhile, I was driving home from meeting with Allie Lehman who is designing a logo for Hounds in the Kitchen. I called, Alex answered and put me on speaker phone, talking incoherently about bleeding and log splitting and Lil being concerned. I gathered that an ambulance was not necessary but sped home anyways.

Alex was pale but mobile. The wound looked like a slim cut and he assured me he could feel nothing left inside. We decided he should take it easy for awhile. We thought a visit to the doctor would only be necessary if there were signs of infection.

We had a low key weekend celebrating Father's Day. Alex left Monday for a week long business trip to Connecticut.

On Tuesday I received a call from him. "Last night, a huge yellow bruise appeared on my leg. Do you think I should go to the doctor?" "Get thee to an urgent care facility!" I advised. He sent pictures and again I urged him to go see a professional.

alex xrayMany hours of waiting room time later, an xray confirmed that in fact there was a piece of metal still lodged in his thigh. The urgent care doctor recommended seeing a surgeon to remove it who unfortunately wasn't able to make an appointment until Friday.

Alex did not want to be in Connecticut all weekend without anyone caring for him after surgery so he came home to Ohio on Thursday. The recommended surgeon here could not see him until today, Monday. All docs were quick to remind him to head to the ER immediately if signs of infection appeared and take it easy in the meantime.

An hour before his appointment on Monday, the surgeon canceled. He said Alex needed to see an orthopedic surgeon instead.

Alex finally got in to see an orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday afternoon. Contrary to what we were expecting, the orthopedic doctor recommended leaving the metal in his leg. Surgery to remove it would be rather invasive and have an extended recovery time. The body will form scar tissue around the shrapnel and muscle will heal within a month.

It looks like Alex will forever bear the mark on a lumberjack!

Lessons learned:

  • Even though the metal shard didn't hit anywhere near his face, Alex will never split wood without wearing eye protection again. If this accident had angled upward, we would have two one-eyed hounds in the kitchen.
  • Have an emergency plan in mind for household accidents. Alex know enough first aid that he was thinking about the time he had before bleeding out if he happened to hit an artery and was ready with the phone to call if needed. We are still working on a way to teach Lil how to use our cell phones to dial 9-1-1. (Any ideas on this issue from fellow land-line-free folks?)
  • If you are hit by a foreign object, seek immediate medical attention. Alex could have saved himself twelve days of anxiety by going to a doctor immediately.

Once I get over a summer cold, it will back to regular programming around here. Whew!