I’ve done it again! Not nearly as badly this time though, and I have a different apprentice, Sarah, who will do the handling for me. Done what? Read this poem, written 8 years ago, which will tell you all about it:
I need more bees; equipment too.
Two artificial swarms will do.
The two-queen way will be the best:
Re-queens, makes nucs and all the rest.
I’ll make some boards; it won’t take long
And then I’ll put my dinner on.
In shed I find some useful board
That lurks among the jumbled hoard.
I measure, mark and then prepare
To cut it accurate and square,
A smidgeon over 18 inch
With edging strips to raise a plinth.
The work is easy; not too hard
I’ll use the saw without a guard,
But ear muffs, goggles, face mask too
Will keep me safe from all that’s threw
From spinning, whirring, noisy saw.
Look on those jagged teeth with awe.
Without a guard I must take care.
I count my fingers: none to spare.
I push the work in with a stick –
But what comes next will make you sick.
The work goes well without a hitch
Until the last strip gives a twitch.
The hand moves faster than the brain
A sudden grab and sudden pain.
My thumb’s a ragged, bloody stump
And Oh! I do feel such a chump.
I shove the stump into my gob
I haven’t time to cry or sob.
I reel and stumble from the shed’
Turn back to press the button, red
That cuts the power from the saw
Which grabbed me in its shark toothed maw.
I run up through the garden plots
Of neighbours, Steve and Angie Watts.
With exclamation ‘Bloody Hell’
They see I’m not exactly well.
We put the hand over the sink
Cold water gushes, turning pink
And then the water’s running clear.
I look upon the stump with fear;
Ange covers it with sterile wrap
And sits me down before the tap.
She holds my hand raised high above
My head and squeezes it enough
To staunch the flow from flesh and bone
While Steve is on the telephone:
Explains about the damaged thumb
And asks the Ambulance to come.
Some perspiration on my brow
Suggests that shock is coming now.
I’m feeling comf’table and warm
And working with a gentle swarm.
‘Wake up! Wake up!’ then Angie cries
And jostles me to my surprise.
I hear Steve tell the medic men
‘I think he’s fainting now and then.’
My brain is woosy; in a muddle.
While Angie gives a kindly cuddle
Another neighbour, Joan arrives
She knows First Aid – preserving lives.
Joan makes me talk to stay awake
I sing a song for Heaven’s sake!
Three quarters of an hour or more
The Ambulance is at the door.
A single driver – paramedic
Can cope with all from death to headache.
He goes with Steve, my next-door chum
To find the missing bit of thumb
I know already that it’s gone
The thumb encountered blade head-on:
Any bits the blade out-spat
Will be demolished by the cat.
The medic man – his name is Robin
Aware my thumb is surely throbbin’
Suggests I’d like a morphine jab
But meantime ‘tother hand he’ll stab.
He thrusts a needle in a vein
With tubey bits with which to gain
A way into my blood supply:
To pour in more if I run dry?
He gives me O2 through a mask
‘You’re sure no morphine?’ now he’ll ask;
‘Or I could give you gas and air-
The pain will go- you’ll know not where.
But now a job I must not shirk
For I must do the paperwork.’
He asks me questions and writes down
Each syllable and verb and noun
That in response by chance I uttered
Spoken loud and clear or muttered.
Along the way he takes a look
At my poor, mangled hitching hook
A hasty look; a muttered blessing
And on goes proper medic’s dressing.
At last we get into the car.
It won’t take long. It isn’t far.
But just before we do depart
‘I have another form to start.’
Eventually he transports me
The eight short miles to A and E.
He books me in and makes me sign
His form repeating ‘No Morphine.’
I’m found a place upon a trolley
Where I can brood upon my folly.
I’m feeling faint and getting thinner
Should not have sawn before my dinner!
A doctor causes further pain
With needles – aren’t they just a bane!
At long, long last I’m found a bed
In which to rest my weary head.
My arm’s held upright in a sling:
A most uncomfortable thing.
In noisy dorm no sleep will come;
Worse than the one at Gormanston.
They give me tea and toast at 6,
But after that there’s nothing – nix;
Not even water after 10.
They’ll operate but don’t know when.
I’ve now’t to do so far from home
But twiddle one thumb and write a pome.
A lunch is served but not for me
Nor yet a welcome cup of tea.
Anaesthetist then comes around
And asks if any tooth is crowned.
A wobbly tooth is worth a note
In case she shoves it down my throat.
Be-suited surgeons, one, two, three
Examine stump and talk to me.
A staff nurse, Bev, squirts down my tube
Some penicill with salt as lube.
A chap called Shaun then comes my way
With cheerful talk of MRSA.
He takes some swabs with lab to share
One nasally, the rest elsewhere.
I glance outside, blue sky, no breeze;
A lovely day to play with bees.
I lay upon the bed and doze
And listen to the noise that goes
Around the ward as visitors
Attend their friends – that’s theirs, not yours.
A pleasant nurse of dusky hue
Arrives and has a job to do.
Blood pressure’s up – one twenty two
The pulse is down – low fifties too.
She watches me and wants to know
Do I always breathe this slow?
I’m hungry I explain for sure
I’ve missed a couple meals or more.
I’m slowing down so I’ll not waste
The early morning snack I faced.
Two interruptions come as one:
By phone from Steve and Charles, my son.
The latter says he’ll come to stay
And miss and overdue essay.
He’ll pick me up in little car.
I might show him my massive scar!
The nurse comes back. She’s had advice
And does something that isn’t nice.
She pricks my hand and from it squeezes
Blood to check for diabetes.
I check my chart for breathing rate.
It’s up to nine – it was just eight.
My brother rings. He’ll tell my sis.
I’ll have to give my Mum a miss.
A nurse appears and does aver
‘You SHALL go to the theatre.’
‘Oh, that’s nice’ says little me.
‘There’s simply nothing on TV’.
The nurse explains that this is not
The time and place for comic spot.
They’d hoped to operate quite soon
But others took all afternoon.
A noisy man across the way
I think is dying so I pray
His stress and pain will soon be eased.
He’s quiet now – I’m really pleased.
Anaesthetist – a diff’rent one
Assures me it is soon begun.
Some food arrives: soup, cake or both
But Mr Slade is ‘Nil by Mouth’.
A diff’rent Registrar appears
‘We’ll do it soon, just have no fears.
You’re on our urgent ‘Trauma’ list.
But wait, where are your notes?’ he hissed.
They’d disappeared – this isn’t jolly.
He later found them on a trolley.
‘We’ll do our best to cure your ills
But if the job’s beyond our skills
We’ll pass you on to Sal’sbury
Where skin’s their speciality.
They may need to cut a flap
The end of your poor thumb to cap.’
At last the Surgeon comes. I’m sped
Along the corridors in bed
He pushes me although he oughter
Had the job done by a Porter.
They check again I’m whom I say
Not stranger picked up on the way.
Then down my tube they squirt their fluids
While dressed as medieval druids.
We talk while I take oxygen.
I’m fine for several minutes then…….
I wake up with a diff’rent crew
They weren’t there earlier, I knew.
They tell me that the op’s been done.
I shall not need another one.
They wheel me on my mobile bed
Returning whence I first was led.
It’s late. I get what I crave most-
A midnight snack of tea and toast.
My stump is short and fat and round
With bandages about it wound.
I get some shallow, restless sleep:
With arm aloft it’s not too deep.
I’m wakened each and every hour
Within my dim be-curtained bower.
Nurse Lorna takes my blood pressure
And pulse in order to be sure
If complications do arise
They will not take us by surprise.
At Two, when at our hourly meeting
She offered me a birthday greeting.
At eight it’s breakfast time at last
And I shall cease my lengthy fast.
There’s porage meal and prunes and roll
With buttered toast to fill my hole
To spread on this – you’ll think it funny
A little tub of E.U. honey.
I lie back on my bed and think
‘Doesn’t perspiration stink!’
I ask if I might take a shower.
Some squirted water under power
Would wash away the sweat and dirt
From gardening just before my hurt.
The nurse says ‘Yes, of course you may;
Turn right it’s just along the way’
She finds me towel, soap and stuff
And when I’m washed and shaved enough
Discard my most immodest smock
And elastic squeezing sock.
A night shirt there’s to wear instead
Although I’m seldom in my bed.
It doesn’t reach quite to my knee
So if I want to modest be
My knees must touch. I must not bend
Lest I display my nether end.
As down the corridor I went
A nurse saw my predicament.
She beckoned me into a room
Whence came I clad in pantaloon.
I try to use the radio
But first I really need to know
The way to turn the darn thing on.
The complicated box of trick
Will let me hear the wireless quick;
But do I really need to tell yer
My efforts came to total failure.
I give it up. A useless job.
And now my thumb begins to throb.
I tell the nurse. She doesn’t scoff.
The anaesthetic’s wearing off.
She brings me news – so thanks a bunch
I may go home soon after lunch.
Now there’s so little time to go
I learn to use the radio.
Then lunch arrives – its rather good
With soup and sausages and pud.
My son from college then turns up.
At 20 he’s my youngest pup.
The nurse gives me a bag of pills
To help to cure me of my ills.
She checks my pressure, it was low
But now it’s up to one one oh.
And down my tube just one more squirt.
It just looks odd – it doesn’t hurt.
I feel it coldly without pain
Inserting fluid in my vein.
At last she takes the tube right out
And plasters so the blood won’t spout.
I get into my dirty clothes
Quite aromatic to the nose.
I can then head for the gate
With medical certificate.
I worry now about my bees
I cannot handle them with ease.
The thing that puts my mind at rest is
The thought that I have an apprentice!
This time, again I was making beehive bits, cutting thin plywood ‘starter strips’ to try on the top bars of the TBH I am building for Sarah to make a daily check on the fallen debris to see whether the bees exhibit any of the traits described by Ron Hoskins in his varroa tolerant bees. It’s the right thumb, which looked just like bloody corned beef when I did it on Tuesday evening. I missed the nail and bone this time. I had the dressing changed today and it’s healing well so I hope to be back in action in a few weeks. Something strange has happened though: soon after my first accident, to my left thumb, I was attacked by gout in my right big toe. It was a painful nuisance at the time but hasn’t bothered me for years now. Suddenly I have gout again, on my left big toe! Is this simply coincidence or is the body trying to counter one problem by distracting me with something more painful diagonally opposite?