Because of my orthopaedic care, I can continue to live the life I love as a farmer and volunteer Firefighter/EMT
On February 11, 2011 I was trying to find what was making a terrible squeaky noise on a seed cleaning machine. It is about three stories high with a 13 horse powered motor. I was by myself on the second “floor” using a stethoscope with a long tube to listen to the bearings and belts where I thought the noise was coming from. I turned to go back when I believe I got too close to the machine and the belt/pulley system grabbed my coat sucking my right arm in just below my elbow.
My wrist was pulled into a much smaller pulley going the opposite direction. I think I blacked out for a split second before I realized what was happening. I had enough presence of mind to know that everyone was heading to lunch and it was critical that I got someone to help me. I had to reach in my right pocket with my left hand and pull out my phone to call my boss. When he answered I was only able to get out the words “Hurry! Please hurry!”, then the phone slipped out of my hand and fell to the first floor. The whole time I was yelling for help and begging God not to let me lose my arm. I could see my hand was black and I no longer could feel my arm from where the belt/pulley was to the tips of my fingers.
The machine never stopped running and the friction between my coat and the belt caused the sleeve to smoke and burn my arm. One of my co-workers heard me and ran to shut the machine off just as my boss got there. When they cut the belts off I had no control or feeling and I had to catch my arm with my other hand. That made it hard to climb down the ladder to the waiting truck. When my sleeves were cut off and I saw my arm for the first time it was the size of a quarter where the belts ran across my arm.
The Doctor in the ER told me nothing was broken and the skin wasn’t even torn, so they sent me home and told me to return back in the morning. The next morning I was immediately sent to Durango to see Dr. Furry. She had me in the OR in less than one hour because I had developed compartment syndrome. It was when she cut my arm open that she realized the damage and called in Dr. Anderson to help. I was grateful that Dr. Furry recognized the signs of my problem even though I did not show the normal symptoms.
I was in the hospital for a week and had three surgeries during my stay to repair damage, remove dead muscle and I also needed a skin graft to close my arm. After months of therapy, doctor care and another surgery to remove the skin graft and scar tissue I am able to function better than I had ever hoped.