06 March 2017

Long day in the dig

After having worked the first three weeks of my new job without break, I figured I could treat myself to some relaxation in the much quieter week after that. It was reading week; there are no contact hours scheduled. The students are supposed to read up and the staff can catch up. And I figured I could dig a bit.

That Thursday I worked only until 14:30. Then I drove off, and got into the dig. I knew things might get exciting! We had left the place in an interesting state the last time.

When I got to Generator chamber I saw a tube spewing water into it. Great! That means our dig was being drained! Good news. I went on and found Miles at the far end. He had mostly spent his time setting up the pump. While the pump ran, the generator was not available for drilling, so none of that had happened. Miles was contemplating widening the passage, but I wanted to move on. There were quite some rocks we could just manually remove, though, so soon we were making good progress, even without a drill. After a while we came to a narrow bit; one rock was clearly in the way, and it needed some persuasion. That required power, and dealing with that rock was more important than pumping, so we changed tactics. I went to get some supplies from generator chamber, and switched off the pump along the way. We were rolling!

The rock in question shattered nicely, and we got rid of it. I wondered if I could perhaps already squeeze through, but it was still too tight. The rock in the middle had gone, but the much, much bigger one on the right was still there, and I couldn't get past. It would be quite a job to get rid of that! Its configuration made drilling hard. But it had to be done.

There was (yet another) rock in the way of where the drill had to be, so we had to get rid of that first. With some nudging with the breaker it calmly slid down, and brought some more stuff with it. We got rid of that too and then I could go and start drilling. I managed to get two holes in, and we packed them full of charges. While the resin dried (with a new bottle and the new gun it was easy again to apply some) we had some food and drink. Then we were in business!

 The narrow passage when it was still TOO narrow

The rock had split beautifully. It was a bit of faff to get big slabs out of the narrow space, but we did well! And when the slab was gone I tried again if I fit through... and I did! I wormed my way into a next space. It looked safe. In front of me the way was blocked by a vetical slab. I could see past it; behind it was the level! I told Miles we only had to blow that one up and I'd be through. He replied he would have to leave soon. Too bad! But I asked him to hand me my torch; with it I would be able to take some pictures of what was behind the slab. He obliged and I got myself into position. Then I noticed a space next to the slab. Could I fit through? Some contortionism (without helmet) later I knew I did. Cool! I stepped into the water.

The vertical slab in my way

I walked to the other side. The next passage was utterly and completely blocked! Oh dear. It didn't look nice at all. I took some pictures and went back. While I was doing my reversed contortionism, which involved pulling myself up to a slab, I felt I had moved along a sharp edge. I had cut myself!

The next level!

I got through the tight bit, put my helmet back on, and inspected the damage. It looked ugly but harmless. I went back to Miles and reported back on what I'd seen. He was more interested in my wrist. He figured we had to go out! He was probably right. I packed my stuff and headed for the generator chamber. Once there I realised the cut probably needed stitching. Bugger! That would mean waiting in A&E for hours in the middle of the night. But the cut was so wide open it wouldn't heal very soon if it wouldn't be treated.

We went up the pitch, and to the back vein incline. Miles said that was where he kept his Go Below first aid stuff. He said I could claim the dubious honour of being the very first person ever to make use of it. I'll carry that with pride!

When he'd bandaged me up we went down to my car. I showed him the pictures of where I'd been; these few minutes wouldn't matter. Then Miles made sure I had my car key, and drove off. I quickly
changed and drove off to Bangor. I had been to hospital before, but never as a patient! I got there around 11:15, gave the receptionist my details and sat down. I was very glad I had stuff with me: a newspaper, three peer-reviewed articles, a flask of hot water, and some apples and sandwiches. I was prepared! And that was good as otherwise the place was downright bleak.

After a while the triage nurse called me in. It was easy to see what needed doing, so they sent me back to the waiting room. After a while my name was called again; a young woman would see to me. She was very nice. She first checked my hand; she was impressed I had cut myself so badly without damaging any ttendons, arteries or nerves worth mentioning. We discussed what needed doing; I said stitches, and she agreed. I think she would have preferred glue if the would would not have been in an area where you stretch the skin so often. But stiches it would be! She first washed the wound; I had licked it myself but not managed to get all the slate out. Then she anaesthetised it, and stitched it all together. Neat job!

In hospital

 The finished job!

That wasn't all; the triage nurse popped by to give me a tetanus shot. And the stitching lady took my blood pressure. Then I was done! It was 1:15; all was done and dusted in two hours. Not bad at all! I was glad to be able to go home. That cut will heal in no time! And I think that vertical slab I cut myself on will not outlive me...

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