Saturday, November 29, 2003

I've promised to make this entry for a while, so here it is....

I have earlier made comments about an accident a couple of years back, which was the catalyst for the upcoming amputation surgery. I have shared this story several times verbally, but this is the first time to do it in print, so here goes:

One of my best friends was building a 60'x40' shop for one of his favorite hobbies: Car Restoration. Anthony is a GM muscle car man, and has a nice variety of examples. The shop was designed to have a paint-bay, a vehicle lift, small office and work bench. The exterior of the building was done, and it was time to pour the concrete floor. The previous weekend was spent laying plumbing lines for the paint bay and small restroom, and final preparations for the concrete. On Monday June 25, 2001, the guys Anthony contracted with to help with the concrete arrived and we started work. The rebar work was first, and these guys showed us the ropes. We had originally planned to spend the Monday getting all the rebar in and then have the concrete trucks come on Tuesday. By 11am, we had decided we were moving ahead with enough speed, that we could have a couple of concrete loads poured that afternoon, so the call was made.

Around noon, the first truck arrived. While no one was assigned a particular duty, since I was near the main entrance door (approx 10' wide by 14' tall), I decided to climb up the wall to check the height of the truck. Just as we were afraid, the truck would barely fit under the door, and once the concrete was removed, it would be too tall to exit. Anthony got his tractor out and we started to 'trench out' the entrance of his shop. We finally got enough dirt removed that we felt confident the truck would be able to leave when empty. The first truck was brought in, and we proceeded to pour the concrete in the back third of the shop. When that driver pulled out, the concrete company was contacted for another truck to be dispatched.

Second truck arrives near the 2 o'clock hour. It appeared the second truck was taller than the first one. As it started backing toward the entrance, I again climbed up the wall to check its height. Since I had been up and down the wall several times during the building of the shop, I got careless in my actions. When I got to the top of the door, while reaching around the door frame to grab onto the ledge, I started leaning to the side to get an "eyeball on the truck". The next few moments happened in slow-motion, at least to me (skip this next paragraph if you are squeamish):

While leaning, I never got the hand-hold I was needed and started to fall. I started waving my arms around in a circle to keep my balance, and started looking at the ground, trying to figure out what was below. The only thing below me was the area we had earlier dug out for the first truck to get in, and that was surface was now at a sideways angle. When my right foot touched the ground, I saw my foot and ankle roll to the right, then disappear from sight. I then distinctly remember seeing two whitish 'sticks' just above where my ankle had just been but then those two sticks jabbed into the ground. While falling, I was trying to remember not to fall backwards, as the door frame had a sharp metal corner that would tend hurt if hit and as such I tumbled forward. When I looked down at my leg, my right foot was not at the end of my leg, but my leg was curved at a 90 degree angle a few inches above my ankle. The two sticks I saw were the tibia and fibula, and I was still looking at them (now covered in dirt).

At this point, while not feeling any pain yet, I proceed to start yelling, "It's broke! It's broke!". When the guys came to where I was, the looks in their eyes was not what I wanted to see. (Quick Note: I had been a police office for 8+ years prior to this, leaving that profession a few years prior to this accident. As such, I had learned to keep a cool head on my shoulders in times of emergencies. This training started paying off very quickly). Not being the shy type, I started instructing each of the guys their "duty assignments". "Anthony, your cell phone is on the dash of your truck, call 911", "You, go to the intersection, wait for the ambulance and direct them here", "You, go tell that truck driver to move that truck so the ambulance can get in here", "You, take a few steps to the right, so you will block the sun from my eyes". I was a regular bossy guy, but I wasn't to concerned at the moment.

I have no idea what it is like to be looking down at a close friend and see, what appears to be, a leg severed from a body. Please realize that I love Anthony to death, always have and always will. But the next part is somewhat humorous, now that time has past. Anthony was stumbling across his words when talking to the 911 dispatcher. I told Anthony what to tell them, even down to the point of "compound fracture, right tib/fib". Once the dispatcher was through talking and told Anthony to hang-up, I asked him to call my wife. Again, I have no idea how it feels to call the wife of a close friend, so I just asked for the phone and told her what was going on. Then, for some unknown reason, I called my office to let them know I wouldn't be in the next day. All this time I wasn't feeling any pain, but it never registered in my brain that I should be hurting.

After what seemed like hours (was more likely just a few minutes), we finally heard the ambulance siren. When it finally pulled in, and the EMTs rushed to me, I saw that same look in their eyes, as I had just experienced with the other guys. The EMTs immediately went into the 'calm talking mode' to reassure the patient, something I had observed and done several times during my law enforcement days. Once they realized I wasn't freaking out on them, nor was I writhing in pain, they started the exercise of securing my leg as best possible with the equipment from their ambulance and got me loaded. As long as I live, I will never forget Anthony coming around the back of the ambulance to check on me prior to us driving away (Anthony, I won't share our conversation here, we have already had our own private laughs about it).

I don't remember being scared, until the ambulance driver turned on the siren when we headed to the hospital. I always believed that a code three run to the hospital meant bad news for the patient. When I questioned the EMT working on me about it, he advised it was policy for a "hot run" whenever a compound fracture is involved. To this day, I don't know if it really is policy, or just his 'calm talking' routine again. When we finally got to the hospital, and rolled back into the emergency room, it wasn't long until I felt true comfort. This happened when I heard the familiar squeaking of the wheels from my daughter's stroller. That signaled to me that my wife was there.

While this day still has a lot of writing to do, I think I will save it for a future entry.

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Sunday, November 16, 2003

Been sitting around, tying up the phone line.

Yep, I am still on a dial-up connection at the house. You might ask, "Why would a technically savvy guy like me still obtain his internet connection via an outdated method such as a phone cord and 56.6 modem?".

Two reasons:
     1. It's a lot cheaper!
     2. If I need speed, I am only a few minutes from the office, which has a T-1 line

Today has been a fun day of tickle-wars with the girls, reading a few books to Hope and getting caught up on numerous emails from my boss. I don't think my boss ever sleeps. I thought I spent a long time on the computer when at home, but I don't even hold a candle to the amount of time he spends behind a keyboard.

On to more important things .... I sent out an update email message to many of my friends this last week about my upcoming surgery. Since then, I have had a trickle of replies on a daily basis, all of which are very supportive in nature, and reminding me I am being remembered in many of their prayers. Some have even mentioned the fact they have marked that date on their calendar for additional prayers that day. It goes without saying, but the Lord has blessed me with tremendous friends!

I have spent several hours (either prior to going to sleep or just after waking up) wondering what it will be like the first few days after the surgery. I'm not talking about the pain. I have dealt with enough pain (so far) that the additional pain isn't worrying me. It will initially be dealt with by a nerve block procedure, then I will move to a narcotic additive to my IV (most likely morphine), then I will move to an oral medication, prior to being released. After what I have been through, this isn't surprising or new. What I have been thinking about is the idea of not having anything other than a residual limb (the new politically correct term for a stump) below my right knee. Renee has asked me about my thoughts, and I really couldn't answer her very well.

At times, the thought is very over-whelming, but I realize that change is needed for me to proceed through this period in my life. Change is what brought me to this point and change is what is going to see me through it.

The last two weeks at Life Church (Stillwater campus) have been on the idea of Joy. Week One was Joy: Joyful No Matter "What". The main thought of the day was that when bad things come our way, instead of asking "Why?", we need to be asking "What?". The first question would be "Now What?". Examples:
     Now what is God doing?
     Now what is God's purpose?
     Now what does God want to show me?
     Now what does God what to do through this?
     Point: God can change obstacles into opportunities
     Point: God can change our setbacks into setups

The other questions is "So What?". Is this a situation that is really going to be important in 100 years? What does it matter? In the original language, the phrase Tis gar plen is used, and it roughly translates to "so what?". Generally, the things that tend to freak us out the most are the things that don't matter in the long run. We need to address the things that are very important, and they need to be addressed with intensity,integrity and passion.

Week two contained additional useful information, but the above stuff has really helped me (mentally).
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Saturday, November 15, 2003

A few changes have occurred.

For those who have been following my blog for a while may have noticed a few formatting changes when first observing this post.

The sidebar on the right has been modified to include the sections "My Info" and "Blogs I follow:". As you can see, there really isn't that much info in the "My Info" area. I might put additional stuff there later, who knows.

So far, the blogs I link to are maintained by two of my co-workers. I have earlier mentioned the site titled "The Internet Ate My Homework" as the one that opened my eyes to the idea of blogging. (I again advise all my readers that my site will never be as interesting to read as Joe's, 'cause he is just that interesting of a guy). The other site, "Behind the Times...", is maintained by Kevin, but you would already know that if you had followed the link. It was after seeing Kevin's for the first time that I decided to add the two additional sections to the sidebar. One of my favorite sayings is: "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery", and as such, I am striving to imitate some of the features Joe and Kevin utilize.

Well, the third quarter of the OSU v. Kansas game is getting ready to start, so I guess I will sign off for now. Go Pokes!
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Friday, November 14, 2003

A new web page was just published, highlighting the "Ertl Procedure"

I am a member of an amputee mailing list, and one of the other members just posted the following:

There is a new website I wanted you all to know about.
In time it will become a resource and clearinghouse for information about the Ertl Procedure. If you are an Ertl amputee and would like your story added to the website please contact

For all those who are wondering about the differences between the Ertl Procedure and the 'regular method', I hope this web site will have a simple explanation, in plain English, soon.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The date has been set...

After getting caught up with all the paper-work that piled up during my morning absence, I now have a chance to highlight my morning.

Without getting into all the "horror stories" about the possibility of child care for my girls, it was decided upon taking them with us to the doctor's office. While it wasn't much fun for them, the reports from the office staff indicate they were perfect little princesses!

I signed in for my 8:45 appointment at 8:44 and only had about a 5 minute wait to get called back to the 'little room'. Dr. Ertl arrived very shortly later (this is really a class operation, I have never had to wait long for anything at this office) and proceeded to get caught up on how I have been for the past couple of months. After going through the expected "are you sure you want to do this?" type of conversations, we got down to business. Again, Dr. Ertl is, in my opinion, the easiest doctor to talk with I have every come across, either as a result of my accident or any other doctor/patient visit I have had. Dr. Ertl took a few minutes to examine my leg a little closer, then asked Jonathan Day (Chief of Prosthetics - the guy who is going to build my leg) to come in for a quick consultation about the upcoming surgery. Dr. Ertl then located a calendar and we decided Dec 4, 2003 was the day to have the surgery (22 days from now).

Remember when I said Dr. Ertl was easy to talk with? Put Jonathan up in that same league as well! Long after Dr. Ertl left, Jonathan stayed behind to discuss all of what to expect, in the area of prosthetic needs. I won't go into everything now (I need to save something to write about later).

Gotta get back to work, so I will wrap this up for now. Thanks for following so far!

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Well, I don't know what to say....

Well, I just got through reading an email message from a close friend of mine, one of the few who actually read this blog. He pointed out to me that I start a lot of my entries with "Well, ..."

Well, after reading through the last few, you know what? He was right. I was thinking about going back and editing some, but decided against it. I have had a very hectic morning, and will report in on the doctor's appointment when I have a few minutes.

Well, that's about it for now. (Thanks for pointing that out to me Joe)
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Monday, November 10, 2003

Well, it's been a while since the last posting....

Well, I am back to the blog again. I have been gone a while during a 'side-trip' in an attempt to bypass the amputation. that appears to have not been as productive as hoped, so I have an appointment with Dr. Ertl in two days (Wednesday, 12 Nov). Looks like we are going to schedule the surgery for sometime right after Thanksgiving.

Will keep you updated ...
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