“I wanted to take these birch logs and cut them into one-inch logs and I was going to lay them out on a real pretty plywood, epoxy resin it, put some glaze on it, and have a beautiful coffee table,” she said.
But as Koegel set out cutting the logs in her workshop at her family’s cabin Up North on August 22, she said the saw blade must have hit a knot in the wood, then caught her engagement ring. The next thing the House Representative knew, she was missing three fingers on her left hand. What followed was an emergency helicopter ride back to North Memorial Hospital and a week-long stay in the ICU. Ultimately, an attempt to re-attach her middle finger failed, so now she is left only with her left thumb and most of her left index finger.
“Luckily it was my left hand,” said Koegel (DFL – District 37A). “I still have a good amount of motion, and that’s a positive sign.”
Once she posted a picture of her un-bandaged hands on social media, she began to get calls, texts, and messages from friends and colleagues alike. Once a GoFundMe page was set up to help her family defray day care and other costs, Koegel said she saw support come in from both sides of the political divide.
“I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t get to see every day at the capitol,” she said. “They see the fireworks and headlines, but we’re friends up there and we care about each other and we care what happens in each other’s lives.”
Koegel is beginning physical therapy, and hasn’t ruled out prosthetics in the future.
“I’m not going to quit working just because I lost a couple of fingers!” she said.