Archive for thumb

another tee-shirt issue

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2018 by xi'an

I bought this burgundy mountain equipment tee-shirt last time I was in Coventry as I found the play on the seam as a crack rather clever. (As if I needed new tee shirts!) I later reflected that the posture of the climber is quite wrong as this climber should not be holding the rope when falling: as I became rather painfully aware a few years, ropes can become dangerous when stretched in the vicinity of fingers… So I dropped a line to the company, which kindly replied to my email that they had digitised an actual picture of a falling climber, hoping no one would take this tee-shirt as a recommendation for lead falls! (Their site actually opens with a great picture of a climber on the iconic Totem Pole, Tasmania.)

thumbleweed [no] news

Posted in Kids, Mountains, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on April 14, 2015 by xi'an

Just realised today is the second year since my climbing accident and the loss of my right thumb. Even less to say than last anniversary: while it seems almost impossible not to think about it, the handicap is quite minimal. (Actually, the only time I truly forgot about it was when I was ice-climbing in Scotland this January, the difficulty of the [first] climb meaning I had to concentrate on more immediate issues!) Teaching on the blackboard is fine when I use a chalk holder, I just bought a new bike with the easiest change of gears, and except for lacing my running shoes every morning, most chores do not take longer and, as Andrew pointed out in his March+April madness tornament, I can now get away with some missing-body-part jokes!

thumbleweed [local] news

Posted in Mountains, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on April 14, 2014 by xi'an

It has been exactly a year since my climbing accident and the loss of my right thumb. Time for a quick recap (for anyone still interested!): Looking back over that thumbless year, I cannot see a significant impact over my daily life: I can essentially operate the same way as before, from climbing to cooking, from writing to biking, from driving to skiing, and the few inconveniences I experience are quite minor. Not large enough to rely on the prosthesis I received a few months ago. I do not particularly suffer from the right hand in cold (or hot) weather and my ice-climbing trip in Banff last month showed I could stand temperatures of -30⁰C with no difference from the past. I never experience “phantom thumb” sensations and rarely notice people taking stock of my missing thumb. Hence, while it has been an annoying accident that has disrupted our lives for a few weeks, the long term consequences are clearly minimal.

thumbleweed news [short story poll]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2013 by xi'an

Although I alas received only three submissions (#a, #b, and #c), following my call for thumb-related short stories, I may as well go and have a poll (for two weeks) as to which one was most appreciated by ‘Og’s readers… (I just noticed you cannot put links within the poll answers, most annoyingly!)

thumbleweed news [short story #c]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by xi'an

Following the previous thumbleweed news, here is a third short story, called #c for the time being. There are a few days left for those who want to contribute to this series!

X woke up with a terrible hang over. Thinking of last night performance, he was proud himself. He is an equilibrist and has been lucky enough to perform at the biggest collaborative circus show in France. He has never seen so many talented and attractive people performing together and this is what he has been dreaming about. 

X was about to get a cup of water and noticed that his right thumb was gone and, wrapped. ‘This must be a horrible dream.’ he thought. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. He tried to remember what happened but all he could remember were some brief moments. After the show, there was a big party to celebrate the last performance. He had a great time till Tim started a fight again. Tim (a lion tamer) was always jealous of X’s talent. Tim got aggressive and threatened X with his lions. ‘His lion took my thumb?’ X got so furious at Tim then, he remembered the moment with Bella. Bella has been working on a hand disappearing magic. Yes, he was drunken enough to volunteer himself for her working magic. She brought an axe to pretend cut his hand. ‘So… my thumb got cut for real?’ He should’ve took Jimmy’s advice, ‘Never volunteer yourself to working magic.’ Last night Jimmy was too busy impressing Liz who was very popular and snobby. X was keen on Liz’s friend, Cloe, secretively. One moment, all of them were sitting at the same table and Liz whispered X that Cloe fascinated a snake show very much. Luckily (?) a group of Indian magicians was sitting at the next table. Yes, he remembered reaching out himself to those snakes for one simple purpose. 

‘My thumb must be beaten and poisoned?’ 

He got confused with these slices of memory and none of them gave him clear reason why he lost his thumb. He got out of his room and found Jimmy and Kev. 

Both looked at X worried. “How are you feeling? We were so afraid that we might lose you. You’ve been in a bed for four days.” Jimmy said. The most surprising question was asked by Kev, “So, what happened, X? How did you end up in the 5th district?” When a milkman found X next morning in the 5th district, his thumb was brutally smashed and even his bone. When he was brought to a surgeon, there was no other option except cutting his thumb. They talked to everyone and tried to find any clue. No one seems to know exactly what happened that night rather most of them couldn’t remember. 

After that, X, Jimmy and Kev traveled around countryside and performed together. After a year and half, that night seemed to be almost forgotten till one morning X read a small article. It was about the new invention of a punch press machine and there was a photo of an inventor, Cloe, smiling beautifully. One of feature caught his eyes, ‘Warning : The maximum pressure is enough to crush human hand.‘

thumbleweed [local] news

Posted in Kids, Mountains, University life with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2013 by xi'an

Most likely one of the last thumbleweed posts. This one just to mention the marginalia that I have now gone back to the climbing gym, along with my daughter, and that we both managed to climb (apparently) without any injury. Obviously, we have both lost our earlier climbing abilities and are down by about three (French) grades but I am very glad we could and can make it, looking forward to improving our climbing skills back to earlier standards… Or whatever level I can reasonably reach with enough training. (And remember the deadline for submitting the short stories by the end of the month!)

thumbleweed news [short story #b]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , on August 3, 2013 by xi'an

Following the previous thumbleweed news, here is a second short story, called… #b for the time being, that sounds more on a realistic plane than #a:

The din was deafening, literally deafening. One hundred and ten kids, drunk on sun, sea and the urge to enjoy a last and final day of freedom together before returning to their respective families after this too short summer camp. As it happened, the dining hall was a large barn with high ceiling, white walls and thin roofs, storing heat and noise like no other place in those hot summer days. The shouts and conversations were rising like so many waves, only to break against the next shouts and conversations. But this did not prevent the kids from eating whatever fell in their plate. Or in their neighbours’! They had cleaned dry the bones of the mackerels I had spent the whole afternoon gutting and cleaning after a fisherman showed up with a basket of leftovers from the morning market. And there was not a single slice remaining from the potatoes I had peeled and cut over the morning. I had already refilled the bread baskets once  and now they wanted more, to get with the salad bowls I had just dropped on the tables…

Getting back to the camp kitchen was a relief from both the heat and the noise. Its heavy stone walls were protection enough and the oven were cold as we had cooked the mackerels on grills outside. More cleaning to do later, though. The poor lighting due to narrow and dusty windows helped in this feeling of relative coolness. I dropped my baskets on a table and looked around: fortunately there was enough bread left in the scullery and I took several loaves next to the manual bread slicer. I had grown expert over the past weeks at working the slicer with high efficiency, pushing the break with one hand while quickly pumping the handle and the blade with the other. This was my only recipe at the moment to prevent a riot in the dinner hall! Anyway, I did not want to see any one and especially no kid near this machine. 

I had already filled two baskets and I looked at the third one as the loaf was steadily disappearing under the blade. I was actually much closed to its end than I thought and pushed my thumb through the gap with the rest of the loaf. It all happened so quickly that in the heat of the moment I first fail to notice anything was wrong. Only when the bread slices came out crimson did I realise I had cut myself. I nonetheless had to look at my hand to see the bleeding stump and understand my thumb was gone. I could see it lying there in the crumb collector under the machine, not much distinguishable from a bread piece in the uncertain light. The cut had been sharp and instantaneous, thanks to the weight of the blade, so sharp that I was not in pain but just stunned and shocked, unable to move or speak or act in any coherent way, staring at this impossible transformation of my hand. However, my body defences quickly took over and I soon fainted on the kitchen cool floor. Before the pain really hit.

When I woke up, staring at the wooden ceiling and its cobwebs, I tried to resist the unavoidable reality, to block sound and feeling and mind away in a world where nothing had happened, in another plane where the floor and the thumb were far below me, in another structure with no pain but only the sounds of the waves breaking on the rocks outside the house and of the gulls calling one another in the evening light. I could not stay there long enough and came back to my floor to realise the main cook had wrapped the stump in a clean white cloth, then put ice cubes around. I could not see the thumb any longer. The kitchen was still quiet and cool, with the cook holding my head against her knees with her other hand. Someone had clearly gone to call emergency for an ambulance came to take me to the hospital a few minutes later. I left the camp unobserved by the kids: the din from the hall had not abated a bit.

To this day, a basket of bread slices never fail to wake in me the memory of this hot and intense noise that reverberated from the hall roofs. Never the memory of a bread slicer, surprisingly…