Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

January 26, 2014

Kindness of strangers aids recovery

BENZONIA — Tim McKay has felt the healing power of love, friendship and the kindness of strangers.

The Benzonia musician and cobbler who mangled his right hand in a snowblower accident prior to Thanksgiving has undergone corrective surgeries to repair partially severed and broken fingers. Still, he faces months of physical therapy aimed at “just getting these fingers to bend.”

But remarkably, the upright bassist for Fauxgrass, a progressive bluegrass band, already has started practicing with his quartet again and credits the support of friends and fans for speeding his recovery.

“I’m a couple weeks ahead of where they thought I’d be. It’s been pretty incredible,” said the 40-year-old musician and owner of Fernand Footwear. “I know there’s a lot of people out there rooting for me and I give that credit for just how well I’m doing. I don’t doubt that at all. That’s half the reason I’m healing as fast as I am.”

McKay severely injured three fingers when his right hand got caught inside his snowblower while he was trying to clean its chute. His index finger and middle finger suffered the most damage, requiring insertion of pins and screws, skin grafts and extensive stitching to reassemble them.

The 1991 graduate of Traverse City High School remains upbeat about his future, even though he said it could be another four months before he’s able to hand-stretch leather, pound rivets and sew shoes for the shop he has owned for seven years.

“The way things are healing, it looks like they won’t have to do any more major surgeries,” said McKay, who has resumed playing bass by taping his injured fingers together and using his pinky to pluck strings. “I think of myself as a super-hero, so I’m playing. I think it went better than the guys thought it would. But the real deal is, I do have to be careful.”

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