Nearness

By March 1, 2016 Uncategorized One Comment

Really honey, no pain meds? First Aid didn’t send you home with some?

Well, I winced, it didn’t hurt that much after they worked on me so I told them I wouldn’t need any pills. That the anesthetic might wear off hadn’t occurred to me.

Pain – like life – isn’t meant to be handled alone. Just Ann’s presence that night eased the hurt of my traumatized finger. A pain-consoler may not dwell under the same roof. Nearness comes often through a hand-held device in easy reach – the call or text summoning a friends voice – and the pain is hushed. Even when these are not available, we remember the ONE. Jesus – our “present help in trouble” – gets pain. With such friends, the injury’s cause – self-inflicted or other –  doesn’t matter. Mercy makes room. Comfort shows up. I was quite the doofus earlier that day.

Bounding over hardware, Francis reached me in two strides. Seizing my wrist, he squeezed evenly. The blood flow, shooting spurts of red a moment earlier, eased.

Here Jerry, do this. I’ll shut the machine down.

I took over my co-worker’s self-assigned medic role, clasping my right wrist. My work-partner, Francis, returned in seconds. Now, we want to get you to First Aid.

***

Reproductions department had moved me to their shop in the massive aeronautics plant. The square, open room, seasoned with inky aromas, pulsed with print-machine rhythms.  I had come to draw odd comfort from the omnipresent, clickity-clack movements of the press room.

I had wrapped up the final job order on my multilith press for the day, clearing away some stragglers of unspent paper. Standing before the unit, I dialed down the ink roller speed, then took up a rust-red work cloth and cleaning solution bottle.

Safety measures can’t be over-stressed, we’d been told. Always look out for things that might catch on moving parts, a supervisor had once warned. Like  clothing.  One machine choked a fellow when ink rollers swallowed his neck tie all the way up. Nasty.

This day clothing didn’t play a role. Still, carelessness did.

I’ll just wrap the rag around this forefinger, spray some solution, slide the cloth  slowly – forward and backward along the roller, clearing the ink. . .  I hadn’t factored the exposed gear rotating steadily near the ink rollers. Its teeth seized my cleaning rag. My finger-tip followed – yanked into the gear and bringing the cog to a halt. Less than a minute later Francis was hustling me down to First Aid.

I lay face up on a black vinyl table.  Someone positioned a right-angle extension to support my arm. My finger end was a grated mess. Head turned its direction, I caught an ink-scent off my work-shirt. The image of a nurse clicking a needle’s syringe caught my attention. I clenched my teeth. The four injections into my finger drew pain I’ve seldom known. Sweat-beads sprung to my face in the cool room.

This is to deaden the pain while treating your finger, a voice consoled.

Really?

The night at our apartment went by slowly. With some whimpering. But tolerable.

Ann was near.

©2016 Jerry Lout

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