Thursday, July 27, 2017

Working hands

I mashed a finger today. Quite painful but no injury beyond a subungual hematoma.

A long time ago when I was a junior corpsman on my first deployment I saw a cool trick. A guy had mashed his finger somehow and was in quite a lot of pain from the injury.

When there is bleeding under the nail, the pain comes when blood (which is mostly water and like water, cannot be compressed) flows into the space between the nail and the tissue underneath. It's trapped between the hard and nerveless nail and the soft, enervated tissue beneath. The nail won't move and the blood (which continues to flow into the damaged area until the pressure in the subungual space equalizes with peripheral blood pressure) can't be compressed, so it's the soft, tender nail bed tissue which gives way. This pressure squeezes down on the nerves, and that hurts. It's like having your fingertip squeezed in a vise.

Anyway, the guy's in a lot of pain, hopping around and moaning and cradling his hand. The senior corpsman in the treatment room -- I've forgotten his name but he was an E-5 from the helo squadron and a very good corpsman -- takes charge and sits the guy down. He takes a paper clip and straightens out one end, then sparks his Zippo to life and heats up the end of the paper clip until it's red hot. He applies the red hot tip of the wire to the guy's fingernail. It smokes and sizzles and almost instantly melts through the nail. The hurt guy jerks his hand away, dislodging the paper clip, and all the trapped blood comes dribbling out. Instant relief.

"Thanks, Doc!"

A few weeks later it was my turn, and the Zippo/paper clip trick worked like a charm.

"Thanks, Doc!"

Well, my finger wasn't mashed bad enough to need decompressing today. Just an irritating event, and not enough to get in the way of fence fixin'. Par for the course when you've got them working hands.

This stuff is actually for use in the winter to protect against and/or heal dry, cracked skin. But it fits the title of this post, so what the heck.


Other than the finger mashing I was pretty pleased with myself today. I actually turned in what I consider a good nine-tenths of a day's labor. I started in on the fence work a bit before 7 a.m. and downed tools just before 4 p.m. That's progress on the physical/endurance front.

The fencing chores were reasonably simple, mending a half-mile stretch of four-wire and tearing out and replacing a sagging corner post.
Blankety-blank thistle!

I didn't look forward to replacing the corner post. It needed to be dug out, then a new, larger, and much deeper hole needed to be dug so that the post could be emplaced securely and properly.

Since it was just the one post, and since the post was located on the south unit and miles away from where the skid steer and post hole auger were parked, it would be an "Armstrong" chore, using hand tools and muscle.

The upside was that this would be a good physical challenge. Yay! The downside was that it would be a good physical challenge. Nothing harder than south unit dirt in July.

The problem with the old corner post was the idjit who stuck it in there (that would be me) didn't set it deep enough. IIRC, it was hot and the ground was hard.

Well, nothing for it but to do it.

Well, shit! I didn't expect that. Guess I don't know how to eyeball a proper depth.

No sense in wasting such a magnificent hole, lets get a REAL post!

I did spend a few minutes watching a turkey vulture dining on Fluffy.

He didn't eat much, maybe it was too fresh.

Yeah, I know. Gross. But Nature doesn't care about our sensibilities.


  1. Ah the joys of a rockbar. We have sandstone starting about 12-18" beneath our topsoil. Good thing is that once the post is in, it stays in.

    1. Best tool ever!😨 We have a lot of siltstone/limestone shelves, especially on the south unit. Most of the rock is decomposing though so it's a real pain to deal with.

  2. Shaun:

    Off topic: If you read John Ringo's books; he is fund raising to work toward making a movie of his " Black Tide Rising " series. I just contributed a few dollars and I have a link if you might be interested in looking into this. Let me know if you want the link.

    Paul L. Quandt

  3. Back in the day when I worked for the US Forest Svc during the summers we had a former Navy corpsman ("Doc" Dennis Dell) with us. He was great to have around (although a bit eccentric) for minor, and a couple major dings.
    I dropped a heavy paint can on my right big toe. Of course I wasn't wearing steel toed boots. Oh the pain! Pretty much the whole thing became engorged with blood.
    Doc to the rescue with the red hot paper clip trick! No muss, no fuss (stinky though) and basically instant relief. He seemed to derive pleasure from providing the fix! Wonder what ever became of him...

  4. Here it is:


    Ok, it's the web site, not the link. I lost that when I shut down my computer.


  5. Replies
    1. Just a boo-boo. Leather gloves certainly reduced the impact.