On the Friday before Thanksgiving in 1999 Larry MacKay, a saw-filer in a saw mill, called home from the hospital to tell
his wife Cheryl he'd been cut at work.
X-rays revealed no bones were injured. The emergency staff gave him a tetanus shot, cleaned the wound, prescribed antibiotics and placed a few stitches to hold him together until he could see the plastic surgeon. When the surgeon noticed Larry couldn't move a few fingers she operated right away to repair tendons and possible nerve damage.
Larry went back to work the next day in a cast. With an increase in throbbing pain, the doctors assured him it would go away with the swelling. After several visits to the hospital it was decided they would remove his cast to examine the wound. An infection from the cut had developed that caused the wound to open and damage the repair work done on Larry's tendons.
When the wound healed, the pain of rehabilitation was overwhelming. The pain took its toll on Larry. He was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a chronic pain condition. Physiotherapy became too painful. The pain was a constant torment and kept Larry awake each night. And the doctors told Larry working with his arm, his livelihood, was making the pain worse - he would have to give it up.
Larry became distant, withdrawn from his friends and family. His children missed his companionship. His wife struggled with not being able to ease her husband's pain. Their social circle changed too when they were unable keep any plans. Initially friends showed concern but after many years of hearing, "The pain doesn't go away" they stopped asking.
Chronic pain is difficult to deal with because it is something you feel but can't see. If Larry had lost his hand he might have been treated differently. His family had to accept the new Larry and learn to cope with the loss of who they were - all because of an injury that took less than a second to happen, but forced a lifetime of changes and challenges.