Countdown to 60

Aging on my terms - Daily musings in 500 words or so

Can I get a Thumbs Up?

I mentioned before that I’m hard on my right foot and my left hand. I wrote about how I ended up with two screws and a fused joint in my right foot. I should probably explain the left hand thing too.

Almost twenty years ago, I had the unique opportunity of learning the trade of saddle making. I love saying that. How many people do you know have learned the skill of making a saddle, from scratch? It was challenging and fun and I am very proud of that accomplishment.

I used to make saddles

The shop I worked in was where I dropped that five-pound mallet on my right foot, which started the cascade of injuries to that part of my body. It is also the shop where I injured my left thumb.

I was working on a saddle piece, cutting the backing away after I had laminated the front to it. The knife I was using had a rounded blade with the handle in the center. It wasn’t easy to push that blade through the tough lining leather, and I remember positioning my left hand to steady the leather. Only it was right in the path of my blade.

It took a fraction of a second for that blade to slip and slice my left thumb to the bone. It was pretty traumatic and I ended up needing surgery to repair the severed tendons. Reminder to self, don’t do that again.

Years later I started having issues with it. I’m not sure what was going on, but it felt like maybe the repaired tendons were starting to fail. I noticed that my thumb would just start falling away from my hand. It sort of stuck out more than my right thumb.

At the time I was living in Napa and working as an estate caretaker. That was a great job. I got to stay home and pretty much be a “homeowner”. I did everything from cleaning to yard work, and I loved it.

Napa is also where I met John. He loved helping in the yard and pruning trees and clearing the ivy and weeds that wanted to take over the place. We seemed to always have a project or two going.

One Sunday John discovered an irrigation leak. He set out to repair it, and as I was helping I thought if we put stakes around it, that may keep it from breaking again.

I ran back to the house, found some stakes but needed to cut them shorter. I picked up the skill saw that was already out from an earlier project and cut the first one down. I probably should have stopped there.

I held the second one in my left hand and picked up the saw to cut it. The next thing I remember is the burning sensation of my left thumb as I held my hand close to my body and yelled for John.

It’s been an adjustment having just nine fingers (only one of which is a thumb) but it’s who I am now, and I’m learning I don’t need to hide it.

Can I get a thumbs up please?


  1. First of all ouch! And no you don’t need to hide it. Thumbs up my friend!

  2. Wow, your making of a saddle from scratch IS a great accomplishment! And I’m looking at single-thumb you with admiration 🙂

  3. So many parallels in my life are written in your work! My daughter…one of my twins, partially amputated her middle finger on her right hand trying to “hurry” a hot walker she and her siblings were playing on…circling around like a fair ride…way out in the middle of the Withlacoochee Forest on our biggest ranch..seemed like it took hours for help to arrive….but that is a story for another time?.

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      2017-10-10 at 18:39

      Oh no! How old was she? Oh my gosh, it hurt like you wouldn’t believe. I’m sorry your daughter went through it too.

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