Saturday, December 8, 2007


A month or so ago, in preparation for building the furniture for the rooms in our cabins, Tom bought a table saw. He gave Selwyn the whole safety lecture, and we told Selwyn of all the gory accidents we’d seen with table saws, all with good friends and family. In fact, we told him, just about everybody we know who uses or has used a table saw at all regularly has had some sort of mishap.

But, despite being safety conscious and careful, accidents happen anyway. Last Wednesday when Karin and I were in Caye Caulker, Tom and Selwyn were making the drive to the emergency room. Selwyn was feeding a short board through the saw, and because the board was so short, he wasn’t holding the back end down. It kicked up, and basically popped his middle finger, which the doctor very neatly put back together with eight stitches. Tom was pleasantly surprised to find that the Social Security payments he’s been making every month really are worth something, since Social Security paid for the medical expenses and would pay Selwyn some disability compensation. However, Selwyn could still do some work with his left hand, and could definitely ride Tony one-handed, so he declined on the disability and elected to work here anyway, which was great for us.

This accident pointed out another difference between the US and Belize to us. In the US, this would be considered a painful but not all that serious injury. Here, until the wound is completely healed, both Selwyn and the doctor are concerned about the threat of infection, which would probably lead to the finger being amputated. With our American sensibilities we want to say this is an overreaction, but when we thought about it we realized that you can’t drive through a town of any size without seeing people missing body parts. So, Selwyn has been very careful about keeping the hand clean and dry, and has been diligent about taking the antibiotics prescribed by the doctor. He had the stitches out yesterday (Thursday), and the doctor said everything looks good, but Selwyn was instructed to keep the hand clean and dry until the scar is completely dry.

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