HomeAccident & recoveryAn accident

I had a terrible accident with my lathe last Friday afternoon, September 21. A large (10-inch-diameter), heavy, partially hollowed mesquite vessel came apart while rotating at about 1200 rpm (too fast, I know). I knew the wood was cracked, and I had wrapped the outside with duct tape, but apparently not enough to hold it together. I didn’t even get a catch, wasn’t even touching a tool to the wood: the crack just gave. The vessel broke into three pieces; I think one piece split when it hit the wall. The piece that hit me weighs a little over a kilogram. I had removed my faceshield, so only my half-mask respirator and glasses (with polycarbonate lenses) were between me and the wood. Pretty much all of the bones in the left half of my face were fractured. My jaw doesn’t seem to have been injured. My eyeball did not rupture.

Surgery the following day repaired the bone damage. I lucked out in having as a surgeon one of the doctors who pieced Gabrielle Gifford’s eye orbit back together. He used four titanium plates to reconstruct my face, and he also stitched my eyelids back together. I’m told I look “100% better” than before the surgery, so he did a great job. And he did the surgery through the roof of my mouth, so there won’t be any scarring apart from my eyelids. Remarkable! The ophthamologist who saw me presurgery and two days after was astonished at how good I looked. He had expected me to be swollen to the size of a watermelon, based on my presurgery state. I can talk and eat soft food with small bites, and my energy level is good and improving daily.

I’ve since learned that the lens in my left eye has been displaced, which will require surgery to correct. The real question is whether the retina and optic nerve are damaged, for concussive damage to them would not be reparable. There is still too much blood in the eye to see what’s going on, so it may be a few weeks before I know if my vision can be restored. I am hopeful, because when the accident first happened, I couldn’t see anything. After the surgery, I could see some light, and by the next day, I could detect motion as well, with a black hole in the center of everything; that’s the holding status of my vision for now. So, please, concentrate any positive thoughts you want to send me on my having an attached, intact retina and healthy optic nerve; this will offer me the best chance at full recovery.

Thank you so much for your prayers and positive wishes. Your individual and collective support means so much to me. I have high hopes for full recovery, thanks to all your good wishes.


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