Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Letterboxing injuries

Most people get hurt letterboxing while on the trail... You know, poison ivy, bee stings, sun burns, squirrel attacks, broken ankles...

Others get hurt while making letterboxes - a slip of the knife can send you to the ER for stitches, you know. Well, yesterday, I gave myself a brutal stabbing which is still throbbing today. I was swapping out the gouge portion on the handle of my Speedball handle when all the nibs came pouring out and I instinctively tried to prevent them from going all over the floor by bringing my right hand close to my body - hoping to catch them without them falling. Problem was that my #1 gouge fell perfectly perpendicular to my hand and the force with which I brought my hand towards my body resulted in the sharp end of the nib going into the fleshy part of my hand a full centimeter. I know this because I hand to pull the thing out. Ouch.  Directly in, directly out.  Very little bleeding, but a helluva lot of pain.

I'd like to tell you the moral of the story is that when things fall, just let them hit the floor and only then go to
pick them up. Unfortunately, your brain doesn't work like that.  All our lives, our brain is programmed to catch things.  When there is no time to stop and think, your brain automatically sends signals to your hands to catch that which falls.

This very same thing happened to me in highschool electronics class.  We were working on circuits all year and were told to make sure that if one of the soldering irons were to start falling off a table, just let it fall then pick it up once it's on the ground - no burns that way.  One day, out of the corner of my eye, I see mine start sliding off the table, and instinctively my right hand darts out and I catch the thing by grasping the entire hot end in my hand.  Like the pic on the right.  Obviously, I let go of the iron almost immediately, but then I ended up curling my hand into a fist - because of the pain - which resulted in my liquid skin all fusing together.  At the ER, they had to cut my hand back open before they could treat the burn.  Worst. ER. Trip. Ever.  No scars though.  Weird.

Anyways, luckily, I am already on antibiotics for one of my patented tooth problems, and I just updated my tetanus last summer. So I'll survive. Just make sure when going out letterboxing or staying in letterboxing, you have a first aid kit available to you, or someone who can take you into emerg. Anyways, I'm off to coddle my hand some more. Toodles.


  1. Squeamish at the best of times...egads! Soldering iron! Too much!

    I rammed the sharp end of my 5U under my fingernail yesterday. No more carving for me either until that one heals.

    Get better soon. Blech.


    1. Ow.

      Ow. Ow. Ow. It's things like that that make me believe that the best torture is the bamboo-under-the-fingernail thing. Very little damage for massive amounts of gut-wrenching pain.

      Hope you're feeling back up to your carving snuff soon!