The Steward appeared along with the Second Engineer, who told the greaser to stay with me and he would take over the watch, so I went off to the Steward’s cabin held up between him and the Steward.
The Chief Engineer appeared as if by magic and gave me a glass of Brandy, which I downed in one as by this time I was in shock and a lot of pain from my wrist up into my elbow.
The Steward asked me what had happened and as I was telling him he removed the rag from my wrist, gave it a few squeezes and applied a pad and tight bandage which stopped the bleeding. There was quite a large piece of metal buried in my arm just above my wrist and close to a number of blood vessels/veins; in fact he thought that the metal had probably nicked a main vein.
The Chief sent the greaser down to the engine room to get the chisel and to tell the Second I would not be back down on watch and that he (the Chief) would take over my next few watches to see how I got on.
The Captain had materialized from nowhere and after hearing the story again, wanted to have a feel at my arm, just as the Chief Steward had, and then they went into a confab in the corner.
The metal point had broken off the chisel and lodged in my arm, and as we were three days out of Belfast, our first home port, we had a few choices:
- As there was a distinct possibility of the metal point travelling up my arm, they could operate immediately and remove the piece of metal. This would entail using a razor-sharp fish-fillet knife belonging to the cook. Anesthetic and antiseptic would be large drams of rum or brandy, but they pointed out that the metal was close to major blood vessels, and was risky.
- Keep the arm well bandaged and keep an eye on the metal piece for movement. By this time I had a large black bruise emerging presumably from where the point of the chisel had penetrated my arm and it was throbbing like hell.
The captain and Chief went off to radio for advice and were back about ten minutes later after being in contact with a passenger ships doctor. His advice was to leave things as they were, keep an eye on the metal for any movement, and keep my arm strapped across my chest, high up to my right shoulder.
I was to stay in my cabin; no work or watch-keeping, and all being well the metal piece would not move any further up my arm and I could have it removed at a Belfast Hospital. However, if it did start to move then the Captain and Chief Steward would have no alternative but to slit my wrist and retrieve the metal.