Brain Injured Moments (2)

This section is a continuation from Brain Injured Moments (1). For those that would like some context into this topic, please refer back to Brain Injured Moments (1).

 Cutting a padlock off a gate

Forgetfulness is a part of life for me these days but I try not to let anything bother me too much…unless it makes my life more difficult than it needs to be. The other day I misplaced the keys to our side gate padlock preventing any access in or out of our property from the backyard. Whilst this was frustrating trying to remember where the keys were, I made the assumption that I threw them in the rubbish bin. Why? Well everyone does that don’t they?

I’m liking this “it won’t bother me” attitude it is part of the “new me”. Well, lets not start this blog off with a white lie, it annoys the crap out of me to be honest. Bloody mind!

Anyway, an easy solution was to cut the old padlock off the gate and replace it with a new padlock. Well my first plan of attack was to use the pair of bolt cutters I have in the shed. Unfortunately, I attempted using these however these were not fit for the job for they were too small and had no chance of cutting through the padlock locking arm.

I sat and reflected on how I would now approach this task given that the bolt cutters did not fit the job. My initial thought was to get my electric grinder out and use a cutting disc. It would be a quick set-up and the padlock would be off in seconds. Whilst this was the quickest and easiest way forward I do have some rules whilst my wife Donna is at work and I’m home alone unsupervised.

  1. Don’t use fuel or start fires
  2. Don’t touch or mess with electric wires
  3. Don’t use potential dangerous power tools such as grinders, drop saws etc. (drills ok)

Knowing that I have these rules in place it took a considerable amount of time to come up with another solution which was to use a hacksaw. Again this failed just like the bolt cutters for I couldn’t get sufficient clearance in order to get the hacksaw blade to cut. By this time, I’m getting somewhat frustrated for such a simple task was proving difficult. Instead of beating myself up as I sometimes do (not literally), I sat outside and reflected again on the solutions I had come up with and asked myself why they failed. I suppose I just needed to make sure that these options I had identified definitely were not going to work in which case they would not.

With my rehabilitation strategies that I have been taught such as planning, thinking through a task and reflection, I once again sat with a coffee outside and thought hard about whether there were any other options. Guess what, there was one other option and it was called an electric grinder with a cutting disc. YES, I had rules in place but I knew it was the only remaining option and as long as I planned the task and went about it safely then there really isn’t anything to worry about. After all it’s only a 1-minute job, 57 seconds to set up the grinder and 3 seconds to cut the padlock. Can you see how my “autopilot” has now kicked into gear?

So what was the outcome you ask?

  • Set-up grinder safely – Tick
  • Secure lock to ensure no movement – Tick…kind of…
  • Cut padlock locking arm – Tick…kind of…
  • Task complete without incident – Tick…kind of…

Prior to me cutting the padlock off, I did secure the padlock with a hand grip vice however due to the restricted space and rounded edges on the gate I could not secure the lock properly. I spent approximately 5 minutes trying to secure the padlock with the vice grips without any luck in which by this time I am becoming impatient, frustrated and I unconsciously drift into autopilot. I now decide to just hold the padlock with my left hand and the grinder in my right hand. For those that have ever used a grinder, it is recommended that two hands are used to hold onto the grinder for they tend to take a pathway of their own and run away from you if you’re not careful. I cut through the padlock arm without any problems apart from I cut through the non-swing side so I had to cut it again. This time however the grinder cut through and grazed straight over my left hand fingers not to mention my burnt scalp from the embers that reflected off the fence into the air and onto my head. What was I thinking? Nothing really and why should I, I was in “autopilot”.


Its not all bad you know for I actually believe I have made progress and therefore have taken some positives from this day,

  1. I didn’t actual cut my fingers or hand
  2. I did plan the task and reflected when the task didn’t go the way that I had planned
  3. I understand my room for improvement which is STICK TO THE RULES / DON’T USE A GRINDER!

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