On this day, 20 years ago, a home-made New Year's firework detonated in my hand before I managed to put it down on the ground. My left hand got serverly damaged, I became deaf on both ears, and I got into a deep depression during the years of recovery.

Today I have full hearing thanks to a cochlear implant, and I have no problems whatsoever using my left hand for anything except lifting real heavy stuff (pianos and the like).

Feel free to ask me anything.

Proof: http://i.imgur.com/bgNumBp.jpg (SFW)


Full album, containing pictures from surgery and recovery: http://imgur.com/a/fBAiC


EDIT: This was fun, my inbox blew up. Unfortunately it's past midnight so I have to hit the sack for now. I'll be back tomorrow again, and I will try to answer everyone.

Comments: 1443 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

Floridacracker7201375 karma

I lost both thumbs in March I'm only 21 and still trying to I guess deal with it. Anyways how old were you when you got hurt? What do you do for work now and what did you do before?

gurksallad185 karma

I was 19 at the time.

Today I'm self employed; I own a workshop where I repair and design electronics for a living. I never managed to pass any schools (mostly because of the hearing), so I'm self taught in everything I do. That was the only way I could manage to get things going.

filmhax807 karma

How long after you meet someone new, before the ask you what happen?

gurksallad916 karma

This is a good question.

In fact, new people seldom asks about it because they never see / observe the hand. When I show it, explicitly, they get curious and ask (and I answer), but the number of people noticing themselves is very low.

I'm curious as to why it's like that. I haven't found an answer yet.

hoonigan_4wd466 karma

I know this is a very dumb question but no one has asked it yet. Did it hurt?

AND...did you look at it at all in the process of getting to the hospital or did you just ignore it as long as you could?

With things this intense and violent and fast, I would think you didn't feel much until the adrenaline wore off and you were in the hospital realized what happened. I LOVE fireworks. I was this kid too, testing my luck with them, lighting bottle rockets and throwing them when they lit and such. My favorite fireworks are those really small mortars that sound like a cannon went off and echo for miles. Ugh, such a satisfying sound. Its terrible how addicting fire/explosions can be. Good to know you survived the accident. I am glad I never had anything like this happen to me, I am sure I should have at one point or another. Damn fireworks!

gurksallad546 karma

It's not a dumb question, I find it perfectly valid.

At the time of impact: no, it did not hurt at all. I sensed something was wrong and looked at the hand. By doing that, I panicked completely, but I did not feel any pain (body was in shock). That was the only time I looked at the hand, I refused to look at it anymore and kept thinking "all is well". The next time I looked at it was when the bandages were removed three weeks later.

There was, however, a time when the pain arrived. This was during the first night after surgery. It's a long time ago so I cannot describe the pain (my brain has probably expelled the feeling from the memories), but what I do remember is that I was in so much pain I called the nurse the whole night. She arrived once an hour, for nine hours, and gave a shot of morphine.

I tell you, the morphine had no effect whatsoever. The pain I had then was unimaginable. I'm glad I don't remember it.

GGU_Kakashi444 karma

One of my cousins had a piece of a homemade explosive cut his neck, barely missed his jugular. New Years is around the corner, stay away from the homemade stuff guys

How did you get over your depression?

gurksallad304 karma

This was probably one of my not-so-smart moves; I decided to fight the depression myself. I had a truckload of shrinks at my disposal, and talked a lot to them, but at some point I said "I'll do this on my own".

It took me atleast a year. The toughest part was all the flashbacks which brought everything back, shredding my mind into pieces. I remember riding my bike once in the middle of the city when a flashback hit me. Had to stop, find a place to sit, and just let the universe blast my brain with self-pity and horror images from the accident.

That or those years were pretty cumbersome.

Reddit-Loves-Me347 karma

Why do you have a homemade firework?

gurksallad510 karma

I was a big fan of huge explosions. That is, the trembling and intense sound that lets the ground shake.

Having a friend with a good sense of chemistry, he showed me how to mix this solution together, and how to use it. I was immediately hooked on it, because the effect was unimaginable. Perfect for New Year's, I thought.

I test-detonated about 10-15 of these before the accident happened.

RandomPorcupine196 karma

Are you still a huge fan of explosives? Do you still make then, and test them out?

gurksallad497 karma

I love watching fireworks and feeling the intense blast of explosives, but no; I don't make them anymore. I leave that activity to the pros.

falafelwafflerofl184 karma

What's it like masturbating with the affected hand? Is there much of a difference?

gurksallad302 karma

As I'm right handed, I have not tried using my left hand for this purpose. I never tried even prior the accident.

DirtyT92155 karma

Were you already married at that time? If so, how pissed was your wife?

gurksallad327 karma

I was not married at that time. I met my wife 10 years ago.

In fact, no one was pissed or anything. I figured my mom was about to be devastated about the fact I was making these stuff (I kept it a secret for everybody) but it turned out she was not. She was only happy to see me alive.

DirtyT92140 karma

I feel you. Not of the same caliber, but I got hit in the forehead by a mortar (just one of those giant fireworks in shows) on New Years a few years ago. I ruined the party, but nobody was mad, and now I look like Harry Potter! ¯_(ツ)_/¯

gurksallad106 karma

Good thing it wasn't a real mortar! :)

penciljockey123146 karma

Can you take your wedding ring off? It looks like the top part of that finger is too big for it to slide off.

gurksallad217 karma

I can, and yes; the top is a bit too big, but it's only excessive skin so it's not a problem removing the ring.

jackaboo109 karma

Do you still use fireworks or has the incident left you afraid of them?

gurksallad253 karma

I'm not afraid of them. On the contrary, I enjoy watching huge fireworks shows.

But I'm never touching / igniting them again. Ever. After the hospital visit I told myself "I'm probably going to ignite fireworks just as if nothing happened", but it turned out I never did and I don't miss anything of it.

marimbawarrior96 karma

When you say "full hearing", how full is it? Would you say it is completely perfect, like having both ears fully intact? Or is it like listening through a bad microphone?

I've been wondering this for years but the only people I know with cochlear implants have been deaf since birth. Thank you!

gurksallad25 karma

Full as in "have zero problems conversating with people". Music is still cumbersome, but understanding what people says is no problems.

Prior CI I had around 20% hearing (with hearing aids). During a speak test (a women says a lot of sentences, repeat everything) I managed to get 40-45% of the words correct. 6 months after CI-surgery I had 99% on the same test.

I have CI on one ear only. The other ear is basically dead, but it doesn't affect anything except for location; I cannot locate sounds at all. I can tell you there's a car driving. Somewhere. But I can not point at it.

eat_my_rubber92 karma

Thank you for this AMA!

When typing on the keyboard, do you use your left hand and if so, how hard was it to get used to it?

gurksallad494 karma

Yes, I use my left hand when typing on keyboards. I can, however, only use the pinky finger, so I'm typing sixfingerish so to speak.

Being a programmer all my life (even before the accident), I still beat all my friends in speed typing. My record, using only six fingers, is 4.55 seconds for the full swedish alphabet (28 letters). I'm pretty proud of that.

TV was once doing an interview while I was still at the hospital (2 months after the accident). The interviewer concluded the session with something like "...but X:s favourite hobby - programming - will be impossible".

This was one of the things that really fueled my recovery, because I was gonna prove him wrong.

And I did.

depricatedzero75 karma

Having lived with hearing and then received Cochlear Implants, you offer a perspective on something I've always wondered.

How different is it?

I've heard that Cochlear implants sound completely different from normal hearing, but for children who grow up with them that's irrelevant because they hear everything still, even if just differently.

I've always wondered what that difference is like, though. Can you shed any insight?

gurksallad83 karma

CI works different for different people so I cannot speak generally, but for me: the first month with CI was complete madness. The sound of a person speaking is similiar to a completely super-drunk person speaking straight into a tin-can. I called that sound a "blob", because that's what it was. A mess of sounds, which SOMEHOW had extractable information in it. I was able to extract words from it, but the sound per se was complete rubbish.

Now, six months after the CI-surgery, everything is perfectly normal. Almost as if something never happened. For talking, words, that is. CI is not well suited for music. I can listen to music, feel and follow the rhythm / melodies, but the sound itself is almost garbage. Electronic music sounds better than vocalized music, somehow. I guess it has to do with a greater sound dynamics that my CI isn't able to comprehend.

I have been told that music perception can be trained, so that's why I'm doing all day long. Training. I'm gonna crack that nut too.

araja123khan71 karma

How much of your current condition would you credit to luck and how much to your instinctive reactions in the situation?

gurksallad208 karma

Good question.

I'd say it was 100% luck. I had no reactions whatsoever until the accident already happened. By that time I was deaf (didn't even hear the detonation), saw a complete red mess of a hand, and the only thing I did at that time was to put the hand in the snow. The other three ran away to the nearest house as soon as I started screaming, I followed them later on.

My brother once told me afterwards that the toughest thing, for him, with this accident was my scream. He couldn't get it out of his head for a very long time.

jimmy125944 karma

How well do cochlear implants work?

gurksallad8 karma

Extremely well. I went from 20-25% hearing (with hearing aids) to 95% when I got an implant.

Oggel41 karma

Are you happy that it happened in Sweden? In the US it would have cost you an arm and a leg.

gurksallad142 karma

Here it just cost me 3.5 fingers!

complete_bast4rd40 karma

Good to see you have made a great recovery. So how/why did the explosion happen? Did you make a mistake and tried to drop it before it exploded or was it a spontaneous detonation??

gurksallad54 karma

The only reason I can think of is that I made a mistake when sealing the fuse entrance, letting a spark from the fuse enter the container and detonate it in advance.

In hindsight I should have of course sealed it more properly. All the fuses was carefully timed to 10 seconds, giving more than enough time to run away after ignition. This one detonated just as I was about to put it down, i.e. within 2-3 seconds.

SashaWoodson31 karma

Do you find Michael bay movies triggering?

gurksallad36 karma

I have unfortunately no experience of his movies, so I cannot tell.

NDRoughNeck23 karma

Firefighter here. Consider yourself lucky. Responded a few years ago to a college kid who had a sparkler bomb between his legs when the right conditions(humidity + heat) caused it to go off. He was alive when we arrived, but we knew he would never make it to the ambulance when it showed up. What did you do when it initially happened? How did you respond to the questions that authorities had?

gurksallad25 karma

What I did was putting my hand in the snow. I think it was because of "cooling it down might help", but I'm not sure.

When I arrived to the house I was just lying on the floor. Two police men and two medics arrived. I was in shock and deaf, so there was really no ideal situation for any of us.

To make things even worse: I still had one test-bomb left in my jacket. The policemen were extremely nervous when taking it outside, but other than that; everything was professionally handled by all personnel.

My story went to the courthouse, but I was never charged. The prosecutor dismissed the case with something like "The crime lacks evidence" or similiar. I don't know why since I admitted everything, but I think s/he thought I've already got my punishment.

nolo_me19 karma

How often do you lift pianos?

gurksallad15 karma

Almost as often as I lift my pyjamas.

A-girl-called-Reedit19 karma

Did anyone die as a result? If so how do you feel about it?

gurksallad38 karma

No one died. We were four people (me included) at the test site, one of them was my brother. I'm the only one who got injured, the others were at safe distance.

A-girl-called-Reedit30 karma

I'm glad you're all (relatively) ok.

gurksallad63 karma

Thank you.

As a matter of fact, I'm perfectly ok at this point of life. The accident made me grow as a person in a way I probably wouldn't have otherwise.

The only real problem I had was my damaged ears. It took almost 7-8 years to get a somewhat sort of social life again, which still was troublesome since I had about only 20% hearing. Way better than stone deaf, though, but still.

Snowbank_Lake13 karma

Thanks for being here! Have you used your accident to help promote firework safety in your community or elsewhere?

gurksallad39 karma

I have been to schools talking about it. Primarily for my own sake (it's good to talk about it), but if my accident could save another person it would be great.

Of the 1000 or so pupils I talked to, one of them came up to me after a session and told me he did stuff like that, but once he saw the surgery-photos he bailed out.

That was gold to me.

nummy1210 karma

Fuck it, I'll be the guy. How do sexual partners usually react to it? Have you ever used it during any sex acts?

gurksallad38 karma

Side note: It's been over 10 years since partners were plural, nowadays it's singular (my wife).

But yes, it's been used just like any normal hand. The fourth finger, whatever it's called (ring finger?), has received nice compliments in my pro-married life. The reason is because it does not have a nail, and is therefore soft as whatever you can imagine.

coibo6 karma

What would you say triggered your depression? What did you do about it?

gurksallad13 karma

I think what triggered my depression was when I got out of the hospital and was "on my own", for the first time in a very long time. I had get used to have a professional healthcare-worker within 30 seconds of time, helping me with whatever I needed help with, and all of a sudden I was on my own.

I was not prepared to be on my own, I think.