Friday, November 2nd started like any other day. Feed the dogs, wish his wife and oldest daughter a safe drive out to Bismarck, ND where they would be spending the weekend vendoring at a quilt show and checking on the calves and cats.
It was at about 5:30pm that life changed forever and his life flashed before his eyes as the tractor killed. We are unsure of what exactly happened in this instant, but we know what the result was. His right leg had become wrapped in the PTO shaft of the tractor. His left leg wedged under the tongue of the grinder/mixer. He yelled out to his middle daughter, Tina…she came around the tractor asking if he had slipped. He told her to “cut it off”…his pant leg…he thought it had become wrapped. Tina told him to stay there and she would run inside and get something. She ran in and grabbed a knife, scissors, and her cell phone. She was dialing 9-1-1 as she ran back out to dad. Dad asked her if it was that bad...maybe they could just drive to the hospital. Tina told him he would live, but it would be a miracle if they saved his leg.
She proceeded to call:
*Mom to have her come home from Bismarck...a 5 ½ hour drive she had made that morning.
*Melany to meet dad at the hospital
*her work to tell them she wouldn’t be in on Saturday or Sunday
She also called 9-1-1 again…the operator asked if there was any change…had her lost consciousness? No…he had not, she just wanted an ETA…which they said would be 2 more minutes. Tina asked dad who she should call…dad said she’d better call Jeff to have him come and move the grinder/mixer so they can finish up the calves. Then at almost 8 ½ minutes, she called 9-1-1 again right before she saw lights and the helicopter. All the while keeping dad calm and remaining calm herself. A rescue responder arrived first in street clothes and his work truck and put on the first of three tunicates. Then an ambulance, rescue squad, fire truck, life link helicopter, and a sheriff arrived on the scene. He kept telling them not the cut the PTO…which the doctors say saved his life. Instead, he walked everyone through how to disengage it, where the tools were, and where there were more blocks too but behind the tires.
Every few minutes Tina would let dad know she was still there. Dad was loaded into the ambulance still attached to the PTO. Tina asked if she needed to ride with him…he said no. Tina told him Mel would meet him at the hospital, all the while giving Tina a list of things she needed to do before she came to the hospital. A medical person held the PTO for the 45-minute drive to the hospital.
Dad remained conscious the entire time. Melany had arrived at the hospital and proceeded to call Tina and tell her that dad wasn’t there yet. He was still in the yard. Melany then called Uncle Terry (dad’s brother) from the hospital and he was out the door and made the 45-minute drive in 28 minutes. She also called various aunts and uncles. The support at the hospital was more than we could have asked for. Since mom was still on the way home…Melany had to make the choice…did they do the surgery at the St. Cloud hospital or airlift him to the cities. St. Cloud is a trauma 2, whereas the hospital in the cities is a trauma 1. Mel asked if they could save the leg. They said they couldn’t. She made the choice to keep him in St. Cloud. Before Dad went into surgery, Tina, Melany, Tyler (Melany’s Boyfriend), Uncle Terry, Auntie Robin (Dad’s sister), and Uncle Dave (Dad’s brother-in-law) saw him and wished him luck.
During surgery Mom’s 2 brothers and their wives arrived at the hospital to show their support for Tina and Melany. Mom did not make it to the hospital before surgery but was there when he came out of surgery. April the oldest daughter, came back from Bismarck after a very emotional weekend and finally got to see dad at 11pm. It was probably one of the happiest moments of my entire life. Dad has had a steady stream of visitors since then with my sister Melany (who will have the first grandchild in June) by his side. The family that he hasn’t talked to in years have shown up and showed their support.
Dad was discharged from the hospital on the 6th and is in rehab now. At the meeting this morning they put a tentative discharge date Wednesday, the 14th since he doing so well and is so strong. He, however, will have to heal before being fitted for the prosthetic that they are designing. Dad is a semi truck driver for Speedee Delivery, but a farm boy at heart and is already looking forward to coming home, seeing the dogs, and springtime planting and getting back to a new. He is the breadwinner of the family…he, his wife, Mickey, and oldest daughter own and operates Sweetwater Cotton Shoppe.
** I tend to be unsure of my beliefs but so many things happened to ensure that dad would be here. The tractor he was using was not as powerful so it killed when it jammed. A majority of the rescue people lived around us, so they knew exactly where we lived. Tina saw the note dad had left on the table asking her to come out and help her. Tina…who I love dearly and with all my heart…dances to her own tune most of the time, but when faced with one of the worst farm accidents the medical personnel had ever seen…she remained calm. She kept dad calm and talking. Lastly, Melany had quit her job not an hour before the accident, so she has been able to be by his side through this entire ordeal.
Dad raises Jersey beef steers and his business cards read, “Zimmer Strong Beef”. He truly is Zimmer Strong, and when someone asks him how he is doing…he says he is tickled to be alive. That he can live with only one leg and will do everything in his power to not let it stop him from climbing into this skid loader and walking the fields. We will get through this…with the love and support of family, friends, customers, neighbors, and coworkers.
Any and all help whether financially, thoughts, prayers, words, comments, messages, reposts, being safer at your work site, or a cup of coffee and hug is greatly appreciated.