Staying Home: A year and three months after Hurricane Ian

More than a week has passed since I left the house. I left to take my husband, Tom, to the emergency room because he'd nearly severed his left index finger on his table saw. Hearing his screams caused me to shoot out of the pool. I raced past spots of blood on the floor, and I found him in the living room, a dish towel wrapped around his left hand. He was in a mild state of shock.

I called 911, then raced to put on dry clothes because I know from experience that those EMTs arrive promptly. Amazingly, there was not much blood to mark the occasion. As one of the EMTs pointed out, there was more pool water on the floor than blood.

As the EMTs cleaned some sawdust out of the wound and stuck the dangling finger back on, binding it with gauze, I asked questions such as, "Will he be able to type?" Two EMTs laughed, thinking this was a joke. But a third EMT said, "Is he an author?" "Yes," I answered. "Will he still be able to play the drums?" was my next question, but that time I was half-joking. I knew that Tom would keep on drumming no matter what. A persistant percussionist, he is.

The EMTs strongly urged us to go to an emergency room for more wound care, an x-ray, stitches, etc. They said they would take him, but we thought that was a waste of the EMTs' time -- somebody with a more serious injury might need them, I said, especially with all the workers using power tools on the islands. The EMTs did not disagree.

So I signed the form refusing ambulance transport, and asked the EMTs which hospital they'd recommend. Interestingly, of the two nearest hospitals, they recommended the one that was slightly farther away: Gulf Coast Hospital. Purportedly that was because the orthopedic specialists were there, but at the Gulf Coast ER the staff looked askance when I told them what the EMTs said. However, our experience at Gulf Coast was better than our January 2023 experience at Health Park hospital, when Tom was admitted for COVID treatment. (That time, he needed oxygen so the ambulance took him to the ER.)

The traffic was inevitably snarled and slowed on the causeway. I am not complaining, because it is truly amazing that we have a causeway and that it was temporarily fixed so soon after the hurricane destroyed it. And I am not complaining, but rather truly grateful for the battalions of workers coming to our islands every day to repair hurricane damaged homes, condos, beaches, and businesses.

Yet I am also grateful that Tom's wound was not gushing blood. However, he was in pain, and we were moving at no more than 12 mph on the bridge because the driver of a vehicle ahead of us thought that was the appropriate speed. I was anxious and worried, but I kept that all to myself as I drove, white-knuckled, to the hospital on Metro Parkway. We spent about 6 hours at the hospital, where Tom was treated very well. Everyone on the staff at Gulf Coast was kind.

I was supposed to be at the Committee of the Islands (COTI) Conversations event that evening. Tom was feeling well enough by then that he insisted we attend the second half of the event, at the Sanibel Community House, on our way home. He felt badly that I was missing the event due to his accident. Since we arrived home that evening (December 13), I have not left. I have attended a number of Zoom meetings and a YouTube church service from the comfort of my study.

Of course Tom has had to leave to go to follow-up doctor appointments, a few of which were on island, but one -- the orthopedic specialist, who was not available at the hospital -- was way back on the mainland. Tom even played a gig at a nursing home, using one arm and two legs on his drum set. This morning I read that people have been so frustrated by the blocked traffic on and approaching the causeway that they have been unkind to the police traffic aides. I doubt that the unkindness comes from residents, because we are all so grateful for the help that arrives every day. For some folks on the road, however, time is money, and the traffic blockages are costing them plenty, I'm sure. So I am just staying out of the way. I told my husband, "No more accidents with power tools, okay?" He agreed.

We watch the flocks of white pelicans, the dolphins, and the manatees in the bayou behind our house, and we forget about the traffic on the nearby roads.


  1. Scary! You were admirably level-headed. Glad he'll be able to drum and type!


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