Kendra Santos: Where were you when you hurt your thumb?
Erich Rogers: I was at a ranch rodeo held during Cowboys and Indians Days in Casa Grande.
KS: What happened, exactly?
ER: We were doing the stray gathering event, where two guys run down the arena and head and heel a heifer, lay her down and tie her up. She has to stay tied for 10 seconds. I was heeling for Cole Robertson, and we were just making a run. He roped her and I heeled her, and when I went to dally it started to run. My hand got sucked down into the dally, and it happened fast. In the blink of an eye, I felt it pull, and I pulled my thumb out of there.
KS: What did you see when you looked down?
ER: I knew I’d burned my thumb, and when I looked down I saw I had a rope burn. I wasn’t wearing a rope glove, because I was going to string and tie that heifer like they do in the steer roping. I took off to go get my rope, then I looked down at it again. I could tell it was really deep. It was white, and meat, tendons and bone were showing. I jumped off to pick up my rope, and that’s when it started to bleed and I knew I’d cut myself pretty good. The paramedics there told me I needed to see a hand specialist. They wrapped it up, we got in the truck and drove to the hospital in Casa Grande. They cleaned it up and we headed to the Regional Medical Center in Chandler, which is bigger. The doctor came in, and told me I needed surgery and to see a hand specialist. I stayed in the hospital overnight, and got into surgery Monday at noon.
KS: What were your exact injuries?
ER: I tore the meat off, tore a couple tendons and severed an artery.
KS: What did they do in surgery, and where was it done?
ER: They did it right there in Chandler, and they got a cadaver artery and connected it to mine to repair it. They said the rest of it would heal on its own.
KS: What did the doctor tell you about recovery time, and what it’ll take to get back to 100 percent?
ER: I told the doctor before surgery that I needed to be back in a week. His exact words were, “If I’m doing surgery, you’re going to be out six to eight weeks and can do nothing. If you attempt to do anything and mess this surgery up, you’re liable to lose your thumb because of a lack of blood supply.” That’s when I said, “OK, as long as it’ll save my thumb.” That’s when I understood, and knew I needed to listen and think about the bigger picture.
KS: Did it hurt?
ER: Yes, it swelled up and has been a throbbing pain, like any really bad burn. It didn’t hurt at first, but about an hour into it, when the adrenaline wore off, I could feel the pain coming. It was tolerable, though. It wasn’t like the kind of pain where you think you’re going to die. It actually hurt more after the surgery. And I can’t move my thumb at all. It’s all bundled up, and all I can see is the tip of my thumb.
KS: Did it scare you?
ER: It was scary. At first I was more upset than scared. But after calming down and understanding what happened I was scared. I realize I’m lucky to still have my thumb.
KS: What’ll you do while hanging around home healing up?
ER: I’ll just have to hang out and enjoy a little vacation. I can’t do a whole lot. Netflix and maybe help my buddy work at the tow shop.
KS: In the end, it seems you were lucky you didn’t lose your thumb. Is that the bright side here?
ER: Yes. I missed out on a bunch of big events, but they’ll all be there next year.