After a 75 mile dash, I was moaning, groaning and thrashing in pain on the ER table of the Dickinson hospital as they worked on me. They gave me a strong pain killer shot and in 15 minutes I relaxed.
The CAT scan reported no broken bones but revealed head lacerations, a bruised neck and left ribs, punctured and collapsed left lung and a bruised and swelled left leg calf muscle. Unaware to the staff and me at the time, two days later my left hip (with an earlier total hip replacement) swelled up and turned black and blue. After an overnight stay with heavy oxygen and IVs, they released me at 4 p.m. the next day with promises to follow up with a chest x-ray in a few days.
The hospital staff and doctors were excellent, but I take pride in being an excellent patient, as well. I’ve had a lot of practice at it. It’s simple, no matter how bad you are hurting, kindness, respect and politeness will harvest you the best in their care of you.
Humor also helps. As I was finally relaxing on the ER table, a couple of our best friends, John and Wynona Foster, walked in. They had made the 60-mile run from the Montana line at Beach once they got word. I introduced John to them as the Golden Valley County coroner and retired undertaker. If it wouldn’t have hurt so much to laugh, I would have. The ER staff’s shocked faces told it all.
JoAnn had wheeled back over from home and picked me up and then made a quick stop at a supermarket on the west end of town to pick up a few items. As she drove us out of the parking lot, we met a pickup with Indiana plates.
She said, “That’s Steve Stemm!”
So she spun us around, parked and hustled inside. There he was in produce, fresh testing a lemon in each hand when she walked up behind him and boldly said, “Hi, Mr. Stemm.” His startled finger imprints brought the lemon juice freshness to the surface.
Steve is a semi-retired Doctor of Dentistry in a small rural town just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky., and owns a small farm there. Steve had driven straight through, two days and a night, catching an hour or two of shut eye at a pull-out. His wife Dorothy, who is originally from Regent, N.D., was due to fly up in a couple of days. They had purchased some ranch property to our north several years ago and spend a few weeks out there every summer and have become some of our best friends.
Steve’s lemons didn’t fair any better than my Honda for damages.
As JoAnn rolled us into our ranch headquarters, a “thunder boomer” was building on up Wanagan Creek to the west. Instead of going into the house I crippled across the yard to visit Lusk. I was feeling very guilty of breaking the oath we’d pledged years back to not get carried away fighting bulls, as I especially am guilty of several times in the past, narrowly escaping life threatening wrecks. I’ve got a bad history of not excepting defeat while handling bulls on horseback, afoot or on four wheelers and have a right knee ACL transplant to prove it.
I apologized to Lusk for putting him through both physical and emotional stress. It started to rain as lightning popped nearby. We visited under the roof of his enclosed deck and tree canopy. He handles situations extremely well.
When the downpour took a brief hiatus, with another building, I told him I’d work on hobbling home, and then joked by saying, “After surviving a fatal wreck that I shouldn’t have, I’ll probably get struck down by lightning going home.”
You talk about a premonition; 50 feet away a blinding bolt exploded with a sonic boom. I was shuffling my feet no more than two inches off the ground, taking several small steps, but somehow I jumped, or flew, six inches in the air and lit a full one foot off the side of my chosen path.
Somebody’s issuing me some pretty serious warnings.
After two days, I was hurting worse than the time I annotated the bellicose nature of an adversary in the alley behind the Shamrock Bar in Wibaux, Mont.