Before I get started with the next part of my story, I want to thank the staff at St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Junction, CO. I do not remember all of their names but I do remember how well they treated my family and I. I was treated much more like a loved family member than a patient. Please enjoy the next part of my story.
Instead of harvesting a trophy buck on opening morning of the 2012 deer hunt, I took a $12,000 life flight to Grand Junction, Co. As I lay in the plane anxiously contemplating my future, I asked the flight crew if I could say a prayer. The flight staff agreed and I prayed aloud that we would be watched over, protected, and that my arm would be repaired at our destination. I knew I was in need of serious medical attention but I was so thankful to be alive as the bullet missed ending my life by just inches.
After arriving at St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado; I went into surgery to have my spaghetti bowl of an arm cleaned out. My doctor removed dead and damaged tissue as well as bone and bullet fragments. They wanted to get it cleaned up quickly because the last thing I needed was to have an infection set in.
After the surgery, I awoke to see the doctor who had just operated on me. He had recently served in Afghanistan and worked on our brave and patriotic soldiers. I am thankful for his service and the work he did on my arm. He briefly visited with me and told me that I could lose my arm as a result of my injuries and possible infection. I thought, “Take it easy on me, I was just shot!” It was like Roger Clemens had just beaned me in the head with a 90 mile per hour fastball. My mind crashed like two cars in a high-speed head-on collision. I wasn’t expecting this dire news and, unknowingly, I stopped breathing. A fire alarm like shriek pierced the silence as a sensor screamed that my oxygen level was plummeting like a plane that had just lost both engines. My doctor urgently asked me if I had heart or lung problems. I replied “NO.”
Dr. Pareira, a cardiovascular surgeon, quickly entered the room to make sure my heart and lungs were okay. I told her, “My heart and lungs are fine. I stopped breathing because I was just told that I could lose my arm!” I was devastated and probably in shock from the news. Dr. Pareira could tell I was very upset, to say the least. Dr. Pareira told me that she was in the operating room during my surgery. She sincerely explained that although it was possible that I could lose my arm, my arm was truly a miracle. As they operated on my arm, they were amazed to see my major artery and main nerve were still intact, although my nerve was “flapping in the breeze”.
Looking back, I know that I was truly blessed to have my artery and main nerve which allowed me to slightly move my fingers. The staff at the hospital would regularly check my fingers and hand to see if I still had feeling in them. At one point, I was asked to close my eyes while they tested the feeling in my fingers and hand. I am guessing they wanted to really make sure that I could feel and that I wasn’t faking. My family and I didn’t know what to do. It was out of our hands and in the hands of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Many prayers were said by me and in my behalf by so many. I am so thankful to all those that prayed continually and fasted for me. Prayer works miracles!
As I laid in my bed looking at my hand, a serious case of anxiety set in. I felt like I was balancing on a tight rope over the Grand Canyon—one bad move and I could lose my arm. My family and I kept asking the doctors what was going to happen next. No definite answers were available. I had super talented people all around me but my arm had nearly been blown off. The docs had to take one step at a time to determine what could be done. They performed a second cleanout surgery which we hoped would pave the way to a definitive plan of action that would allow my arm to be repaired. As was the case at the first hospital that I arrived at, my hopes were smashed like a mosquito on a windshield. Once again, I was told that the trauma to my arm was so severe that I needed specialized treatment at another hospital. I was disappointed to say the least! An appointment had been set for me at the U of U Hospital for the following day in Salt Lake City, UT with a talented surgical team that specialized in the reconstruction of the arm and hand.
Although there was no end in sight, I was thankful to be heading to my home state. As preparations were made for my departure from St. Mary’s hospital, I had high hopes that my situation would improve in the very near future. At the time, I had no idea that things were going to get much worse before they got any better. Part 5 Coming Soon!