ANNEX IRON MINE
Larry Mackey Story
(Click on picture to view news clip).
Chapter 1 - Introduction:
I live on Little Thunder Lake which is about 7 miles south east of the town of Remer in north central Minnesota. My home is on a dead end township road on the north shore of the lake and in addition to lake shore frontage I have 40 acres of wooded land. My land is bordered on the north, west, and east by thousands of acres of state land. It has been tradition for the past 15 years for my son-in-law and grandson who live near Mankato in southern Minnesota to join me for a bear hunt on the state land north and east of my place.
Our 2007 bear season started in August when we put out bait at six locations. We were planning for a hunting party of five including myself, my grandson, my son-in-law and two of their friends. By the opening day for shooting, which was September 1st, we had bear visiting most of our bait locations. My grandson, Luke bagged his bear the first evening of the hunt but the rest of us were not as lucky. The bear continued to visit our bait locations but only late at night, well after dark. It rained most of the second weekend so our hunting was limited and we saw no more bear.
On Monday, September 10th the weekend hunters had gone home and I was alone at my cabin. I decided to check our bait locations that morning to see if we had any action. One of our spots that we call Bear Island had been cleaned out of all the bait which gave me some hope for success. I added new bait, covered it with a weighted lid and made plans to return that afternoon to hunt until dark.
The following is my story of an accident that occurred the evening of September 10th and the story of my struggle to survive until my rescue on September 15th.
Before I jump into the detail however, let me try to answer a couple of questions I’ve been asked repeatedly since my rescue.
The first question is, how did I do it, how did I lay out there for five days without food or water, in pain, and with nothing to do. The answer is the detail of my story which follows, the whole experience taken hour by hour and day by day.
Another question is why was I out there without food or water and without having left word with someone about where I was going to be and when I expected to return. It’s difficult to give a simple answer to this question except to say that I am 62 years old and I’ve been hunting, and hiking alone in the woods for most of my life. Even before this accident, friends and family have said; what if something happens to you when you are out there all alone, what will you do? My answer has always been that this is the life style I have chosen for myself, I’m well aware of the risks involved and I accept the consequences of what may happen if an incident like the one told in this story were to occur. My only regret is the inconvenience and worry this may have caused my family, friends, and community.
Chapter 2 – Monday, 9/10/2007:
Monday, September 10th was a partly sunny day in the mid to high 60’s. A nice day and evening to spend in my bear hunting stand. I had on blue jeans, a T shirt and my duck hunting jacket. The evening went by quickly and no bear came to the bait, so just before dark I started to climb down. With one foot on the ladder and one foot still on the stand, my pant leg caught on the step, I reached down with my left hand to pull it lose when the ladder slid off the tree. The ladder tipped off to the side and I fell straight down. I don’t remember hitting the ground and I believe I was unconscious for at least 2 hours. When I awoke it was pitch black and raining. Not knowing what was wrong with me, I tried standing, when I put weight on the left leg I could hear and feel the leg bone grind and push in the hip socket and into the pelvis bone. I knew instantly that the leg and/or hip must be broken. I fell back to the ground and passed out for a while.
When I awoke the second time, I laid there for a while thinking about what I was going to do. I live alone so no one would miss me. Nobody knew I went hunting and nobody except my grandson and son-in-law knew where our bear hunting stands were located. I was expecting my grandson the following Friday evening for next weekends hunting but I didn’t believe I could survive that long. This meant that my only chance to live was to drag myself to my four wheeler which was about 300 yards away.
I tried getting up on all fours in order to crawl like a baby, this was very painful and I couldn’t move forward because of having only one knee to work with. I found that by laying on my belly I could drag myself forward about an inch at a time by pulling with my arms and pushing as best as I could with my good leg. Using this technique, I moved myself about 3 or 4 feet from the base of the tree but I soon realized that I was headed in the wrong direction. I found my 2AA cell flashlight in my coat pocket and was able to look around enough to get my bearings. I had to reverse my direction and crawl back to the tree. Turning around was difficult and painful, my feet and legs were tangled in brush as was much of my upper body. Using all my arm and shoulder strength I was able to get in position to start the drag back to the tree. Once back at the tree it started to rain again so I covered my head and waited, thinking about what my next move should be. I was now positioned between the fallen ladder and the base of the tree. To get to the 4X4 I would need to drag myself about 6 feet along the ladder and than cross over the ladder to head south down the trail.
It’s still dark on Tuesday morning as I drag myself along the ladder. I had on a fanny pack which also had two side pockets, the pack contained spare ammunition for my browning BAR 270 and some jerky. The side pockets were continually catching on brush as I tried to drag myself and since I wasn’t pulling the rifle along, I didn’t need the ammo, so I took off the belt and left it behind. I made it to the point along the ladder where I needed to change directions and cross over or under the ladder. I tried lifting the ladder up in order to crawl under but I couldn’t lift it, the ladder was too heavy and to tangled in the brush. I couldn’t crawl around the end of the ladder because it was across the trail and in brush that was to heavy to crawl through. I was lying on my belly with the broken hip against the ladder. To cross over I would need to turn up on my right side with my belly towards the ladder, from there I would roll my left side, including the broken hip up onto the ladder and than continue to roll over the broken hip and back onto my belly on the opposite side of the ladder. The execution of this maneuver worked ok but the pain was out of this world, I mean horrible! …. I was now lying on the other side of the ladder, quivering with pain and totally exhausted. I covered my head and tried to sleep until daylight (it might be more accurate to say that I went unconscious again).
Chapter 3 –Tuesday, 9/11/2007:
I did manage to sleep for a short while Tuesday morning but was awake before daylight. As I lay there waiting for enough light to look around, I took inventory of my situation. I had no food or water, I had left my rifle and fanny pack behind and had lost my flashlight while rolling across the ladder. I tried reaching back across the ladder as best as I could searching for the flashlight. I couldn’t find it! I would have to spend my remaining nights out there in the dark.
Tuesday morning was cool, cloudy and windy, not very pleasant, not that that mattered much in my condition. When it was light enough to look around, I could see that I was on the 4X4 trail and headed in the correct direction. The trail was rough and covered with grass, small brush and dead tree branches. Dragging myself was going to be very difficult. As I worked at the slow forward progress, my belly would often be on a small hump about 6 to 8 inches high and my hips in a dip 6 to 8 inches deep, this had the effect of dragging myself over small hills. It was very difficult and took a lot of energy. I worked at dragging myself for most of Tuesday morning and managed to travel less than 8 feet. I laid there on my belly completely exhausted and in terrible pain, wondering what I could try next because dragging my self was not working very well. I think I knew at this point that I would never reach the 4X4. It was statistically impossible based on my progress so far!
Dragging myself was also using a lot of energy and continuing would only reduce my strength and make my chances of surviving until the weekend even more remote, so I decided at this point that my only chance to live was to stay where I was until my grandson Luke arrived. I dragged myself a couple feet further until I reached a spot that was relatively flat and covered with mostly grass. This would have to be my bed until Friday or Saturday.
My hip had terrible pain, my ribs hurt as though they were fractured and I had a huge deep cut on my forehead and the cut was still bleeding. Apparently my head had hit the bottom of the ladder when I fell, which accounts for my being unconscious for a period of time. My duck hunting jacket had a hood which I had pulled over my head when it was raining. The inside of the hood was full of blood and my hair, eyes, and ears were matted with drying blood. I think I must have looked like a character from a Hollywood horror movie.
The sun came out Tuesday afternoon but the wind continued to blow from the north. Even with the chill of the wind, the sunshine helped warm me and the temperature was comfortable. My world was now a small patch of ground about six feet by six feet, all resources going forward would have to come from what I could reach in that space. My first task was to get my body turned from my belly and onto my right side, putting my broken hip on top to reduce the pain. This probably sounds like a simple task but it wasn’t, it’s hard to roll the body when the hips don’t work and with one leg that will not move on it’s own. However, with a big effort and the help of some sticks as props, I managed to get on my side.
I was quite certain I could go for 5 days without food but I didn’t know how long the body could go without water. Five days was bound to be pushing the limit! I had a half full bag of sunflower seeds in my jacket pocket left over from my tree stand snacks. I decided that the seeds would only make me thirsty if I ate them so I dumped them out and proceeded to make a rain catcher from the bag. I cut one side of the bag from the open top to one of the bottom corners so that it opened up like a butterfly. The unopened corner of the bottom of the bag created a kind of cup that would hold water. I cut a small slit in each of the opened top corners and placed a small stick between the corners to keep the bag open. I placed this upside down umbrella in a position to catch the rain. I never did catch more than a thimble full of water in this contraption and when I tried to drink it I spilled the water in my beard before I could get it to my mouth.
The north wind was blowing from my position towards Little Thunder Lake. I reasoned that the wind might help carry my voice to somebody on the north shore of the lake so I established a kind of schedule to yell ‘HELP, PLEASE HELP’ a few times every ten minutes. No help came!!!
I spent most of Tuesday afternoon and evening trying to prepare myself for the overnight cold that was certain to come that night. Hypothermia was my biggest fear; I had on blue jeans, a T shirt and my duck hunting jacket. The jacket is waterproof (a big +) and also has a medium weight zip in liner. I did not believe that this would be warm enough if the temperature fell to freezing or below so I began gathering leaves, grass, moss and other debris ( from within my six by six world) that could be used as insulation. Before it got dark that evening, I stuffed as much of the debris insulation as I could between the zip liner and outside shell of the jacket. The remainder of the insulation I piled over my feet, legs, and hips. As it got close to dark the wind stopped, the sky was clear and I could feel the temperature dropping. My thoughts were simple; if I could make it through this night than I had a chance of making to the weekend.
About 10:00 PM I heard some loud bangs from the area of my bear bait which was about 30 feet from where I lay. The noise continued and I knew that a bear was eating at the bait. I yelled “get out of here” a couple times and the noise stopped, apparently the bear had left. Around midnight I could here a pack of wolves howling to the north of me. As I listened it was clear that they were moving in my direction, the howls got louder and I could here pups yipping and whining. I believe that they passed within 20 yards of where I was laying. Damn, I sure wished I had brought my rifle with me!!
The excitement and scare of the bear visit and the wolves had served a purpose; the time had passed more quickly and the adrenalin warmed me for a while. The down side of the adrenalin high however was a low that made me sleepy. I dozed off to sleep for a while and when I woke I was very cold and had uncontrollable shivers. I had read someplace that shivers were a symptom of the start of Hypothermia. The body induces the shivering to produce heat. If I was going to pull out of the shivers I would have to do more to generate some body heat and I had to do it quickly. I pulled the jacket hood completely over my head and face and tucked it in to create a closed cocoon. This retained the heat of my breath inside the jacket and that seemed to help. I also started flexing all my muscles and I found that talking to myself generated more heat than just breathing.
The shivers stopped after a while and I felt a bit warmer. The experience convinced me however that I had to stay awake all night. Perhaps I could sleep safely during the day when it was warmer but not at night. One of the things I did to stay awake was to sing out loud to myself. I don’t know the lyrics to many songs so it was mostly a few words and a lot of ‘dah, dah-dah, dah-dah’. I also noticed that the singing generated more heat inside my cocoon than talking and I figured that the outrages sound of my singing would have the side benefit of driving the bears and wolves far from my position.
Chapter 4 – Wednesday, 9/12/2007:
When Wednesday morning finally arrived I opened my cocoon enough to peek out. I could see frost on the vegetation all around me. The early morning passed slowly and it seemed like it was taking forever for the air to warm up, The frost didn’t melt until the sun rose above the tree line, about 9:30 am. By mid-morning it was getting warm enough so that I could come out of my cocoon and start doing what ever I could do to extend my survival for another day and another night.
I thought that I needed to plan my day in terms of small projects. Projects that would improve my situation and make the time pass a little faster. I decided that my first project would be to somehow retrieve my rifle from back by the tree stand. If I had my rifle, I could fire signal shots if I thought someone was near my position and the rifle would also provide some security if the bear or wolves were to pay another visit. Tuesday I had dragged myself about six feet to the west and than made a right angle turn and moved about 8 feet to the south. If I recalled my trigonometry correctly, the rules of a 3-4-5 right triangle would apply here, which would make the direct distance to the tree stand from my new location about ten feet. The rifle should be near the stand but a little closer to me. Looking at ground level, I could just see the end of the rifle barrel behind a hump and some brush. I estimated that it was 7 or 8 feet away.
I surveyed my 6X6 world looking for a stick or branch that I might use as a tool to reach for the rifle. On the far side of my spot, just out of my reach, I could see the end of a fallen tree branch that was about 3 inches in diameter. This branch had potential if I could somehow reach it. I squirmed, twisted, stretched and rolled slightly to try and reach the branch but could not quite get there. I noticed that my arms, shoulders and legs were loosing strength and my muscles and joints were getting stiff, I could not move as well as I had the day before.
My belt to the rescue! I removed my belt and made a loop on one end. The belt was stiff enough to easily slip the loop over the end of the branch. I pulled and the branch came to me. As I pulled it in I removed twigs and small branches and I found that it was relatively straight, about 10 feet long and had a convenient Y branch at the small end.
I pushed the branch small end first towards the rifle until the Y was about over where I thought the rifle sling should be and than elevated my end to keep the Y of the branch on the ground. In this position I rotated the branch on it’s axis hoping to get it wrapped in the rifle sling. After a few tries the branch became tight as I rotated so I pulled towards me. Fantastic!! The rifle was coming to me pulled by the branch. As luck would have it, the rifle was dragging at an angle so that the barrel was pointed off to my right rather than directly at me. I was grateful for that, after all, I wouldn’t want to shoot myself! The whole rifle project had taken over two hours which was great, because it helped pass the time more quickly.
I had noticed some beef jerky trapped between my teeth since my Monday evening snacks, the jerky was starting to irritate my teeth so I decided that my next project would be to carve one or two toothpicks to clean my teeth. I cut a length of hazel brush with my hunting knife and began whittling small strips of wood off from the larger branch. I than cut the strips down to toothpick size pieces that were sharpened on both ends. In all, I think I made about two dozen toothpicks. Just one toothpick was enough to clean my teeth so I now had a two dozen supply of toothpicks in my pocket. Since I had no food or water it was unlikely that I would need any more toothpicks this week, but perhaps I could use them when I got out of there.
The toothpick project had used up another hour and a half and it was now Wednesday afternoon. The wind was calm, the sky was clear and the sunshine was warm. With my hunting jacket and liner I was almost too warm…. almost! I noticed that I no longer felt hungry or thirsty; apparently my body had given up on reminding me to eat and drink. The pain in my broken hip was not as bad as it had been Tuesday, it was more just numb and only hurt if I moved too much. The bad news was that the good side of my body, my right leg, hip, shoulder and arm were hurting worse that the broken hip. Lying on the hard lumpy ground was torture, all I could do was adjust my position frequently.
I decided that I should try to sleep while the day was still warm so I snuggled up to my big stick and closed my eyes. I dosed off for a short while but than woke because my body hurt and I needed to adjust my position. This cycle repeated every time I went to sleep, I was getting a series of five minute naps. Although the naps were short they seemed to be helping, after a while I started to feel rested.
Having rested for a while I decided it was time for another project. I wasn’t able to move my left leg because of the broken hip and my right leg was difficult to reposition on the hard ground. My socks had a tendency to slip down and my pant legs were always creeping up on the calf of my leg. Project number three had to be the invention of a tool to manipulate and maintain my legs.
I searched my miniature world looking for an idea, for something I could use as a tool but nothing was immediately obvious until I noticed the smaller Y end of my big stick. That Y end could be just the tool I was looking for but the 10 foot handle was obviously too long. Since I no longer needed a 10 foot stick anyway, I decided to cut about two and a half feet off the big stick for my leg tool. That still left me with a longer, stronger branch for prying and to use as a kind of crutch for lifting my upper body. The larger branch was also serving as my survival record, for each day I spent out there I was cutting a notch in the branch. This wasn’t so much for me to keep track of the days as it was to let someone else know how long I was there alive if I didn’t make it.
I carved and cut one of the Y’s of the smaller stick to create a hook for pulling up my socks and I slightly sharpened the other Y as a tool to push my pant legs down. The new leg tool also served as a pry and lift for moving my helpless left leg around.
Wednesday evening was still warm and would have been very pleasant if it wasn’t for all my pain. About 7:00 pm I heard some loud noise from the direction of the bear bait. I propped myself up so I could see the bait box and there she was, a big mama bear with two cubs that were busy eating what ever they could find. I yelled at them to ‘get out of here’ but they didn’t move. I picked up my rifle even though I knew I couldn’t shoulder it to shoot anything, at least I could fire it to scare them if I needed to. The mama bear looked at me but didn’t move and in a few seconds went back to eating. I yelled again ‘get out of here’ but this time the mama bear didn’t even look up, she just kept on eating. Apparently they had become familiar with my sent and considered me to be harmless, they just ignored me. I continued to talk out loud to them, I didn’t want them to forget I was there and I didn’t want one of the cubs to wander over near me, mama might get protective in that situation. After 20 or 30 minutes they walked away, I think they finished all the bait.
Wednesday evening went by fast because of the bear visit and the nice weather. As it turned dark there was no moon so the stars were very bright, it was a beautiful sky. Lying on the ground looking up at the stars through a stage of dark trees and various shades of dark and gray shadows there was created an endless array of possible shapes and silhouettes. My imagination was overflowing with sightings of tools, places, animals and people, the most important of which was a perfect silhouette of my grandson Luke. As I looked at the ‘Luke’ silhouette I extended my left arm and made a fist which I than used to slug my self in the head, I had to make sure that I wasn’t becoming delirious. The hit in the head inflicted enough pain and put enough extra stars in the sky to convince me that I was still conscious but maybe just a little goofy. I took the ‘Luke’ sighting as a vary good sign; he would be there to rescue me!
I closed up my cocoon about 2:00 am and went into my night time routine of talking, singing and flexing muscles.
Chapter 5 – Thursday, 9/13/2007:
It was not as cold Thursday morning as it had been the previous two mornings. The mild night and mild morning were much easier on my body and mind than Monday and Tuesday nights had been. I thanked God for this blessing. It greatly improved my chances of survival.
I decided that my Thursday morning project was going to be to improve the comfort of the spot I was laying on. I moved my body backwards as far as I could to clear the bedding spot. Using my hunting knife, I dug up small rocks and tree roots that were just under the surface and were causing the lumps and hard spots in my bed. This took quit a bit of time, the tree roots had to be dug and than traced as far as possible and than cut at the end with my knife. They were hard to cut! I than traced the same root as far as possible in the other direction and cut it off so that the whole piece could be removed. I repeated this for several roots. I then back filled these spots with loose dirt and moss to make it soft. This whole project took most of Thursday morning.
When I moved back on my bedding spot it felt a lot more comfortable so I was pleased with my project. After a couple hours however I was back to the same pains and discomfort as before so I don’t know if it really did any good or not, but at least it had killed some time.
Thursday afternoon was still sunny but the wind was starting to blow from the north again so it wasn’t as warm as Wednesday.
As I lay there resting from my morning project, I noticed that the leaves were casting shadows of all shapes and sizes on the white bark of the aspen and birch trees. My imagination kicked in and I started to see various cartoon characters, Kirmit the frog, miss piggy, the road runner and many more. It was awesome, and all totally animated as the wind moved, shook and quivered the leaves. Wow, I thought it must be time for another rap to the side of my head, to be certain I was still conscious and not hallucinating, but before I did so, I was distracted by some hammering to the west of me.
I listened and sure enough, someone was working on a deer stand. As I listened I heard more hammering from another position south of me. It was Thursday afternoon and Saturday was the opening for deer hunting with a bow. Apparently there were hunters in the woods getting their stands ready for Saturday. As I listened I could even hear some voices, if I could hear them, than surely they would here me, so I started yelling for help. I yelled and then listened for a reply, over and over but nothing happened. I decided it was a good time to fire a couple rounds from my rifle, if I got there attention they might hear my yells for help. I fired two shots and than yelled some more for help. Nothing happened. I continued yelling off and on as long as I could here the other hunters but it didn’t do any good. I decided that since I was laying on the ground in heavy cover and there was still a lot of foliage and cover on the brush and trees that it must have been like pulling a blanket over my head and yelling, my voice didn’t carry.
No matter, tomorrow was Friday and help would be coming, all I had to do is make it through one more night.
As the evening passed and I started to ready myself for another night I felt something in my left pant leg. All I could think of was a mouse looking for a warm home. I slapped the leg and rubbed as far down as I could reach, the feeling of movement stopped. I didn’t know if it had left or was just laying still and hiding. I lay there fully alert waiting for another movement and in a short while I felt it again, I swatted pretty hard this time and my broken leg hurt from the hit. It stopped but after a short time I felt it again, this went on for a long time until I finally convinced myself that I must be imagining the whole thing. The cure would be to ignore what I was feeling and perhaps it would stop. It took a lot of willpower to lay there feeling what might be a mouse making a home in my pant leg but I managed to ignore it. After a while the feeling stopped, I will never know if it was a real mouse or just my imagination.
Chapter 6 – Friday, 9/14/2007:
The wind blew all of Thursday night and Friday morning. It was a cold north wind that blew right through my hunting jacket. This was the night that I really needed the extra insulation I had stuffed in the liner of my coat. It took all my will power and all the stamina I had left to fight off the chill and retain my body heat inside the cocoon.
As daylight moved in, I peaked out of my cocoon to see dark clouds racing across the sky from the north to the south. Just the sight of these clouds and the sound of the wind in the trees sent a chill through my body. The next time I peaked out it was snowing and there were small chunks of sleet mixed with the snow that the wind carried through the trees like a winter storm. I was to cold and stiff to hit myself in the head for a reality check so I had to assume it was really happening. None of this mattered though, it was Friday!! Help will come today!
By night I would be in a warm hospital bed, I would have medication to take away all the pain, I would have food to eat and water to drink. That was going to be the most wonderful day of my life. I thanked God for helping me get to that day.
By late morning the dark clouds were starting to break up and the sun was shinning through the clouds off and on, it was getting warmer. It was all I could do to keep from just staring at my watch and counting off the minutes. I had to find a way to occupy my time.
I had forgotten that I had reservations at an RV park near Jordan, MN for that Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I had planned to spend the weekend at the Renaissance fair. Luke doesn’t expect me to be at my cabin when he arrives, that should work in my favor, he’ll know almost immediately that something is wrong! I suppose I’m going to lose my deposit at the RV park though! What a waist, maybe they will refund my deposit if I tell them this story, but that’s not likely, they won’t believe it!
My thoughts shifted to my possible rescue senerios; “Too many possibilities! What were Luke’s plans? I’m having trouble remembering. I think he asked what time I was leaving and said that he might arrive before I departed for Jordan. If that were the case I may be rescued by late afternoon. Fantastic! He also mentioned the possibility of bringing a friend with him, in that case he may not get here until late afternoon or evening. That doesn’t mater though, he knows where all the bear bait stands are so it won’t take him long to find me, not even in the dark.”
“What if he doesn’t get here until late at night? Luke and his dad, Brian, have often arrived late at night and just quietly went to bed trying not to disturb me. In that case he may not miss me until morning, but what if he gets up early in the morning, before sun rise and goes hunting? He might not miss me until noon!”
“Of course there is one more possibility, what if he changed his plans and doesn’t come at all? I decided not to waist any time on that thought, I was confident that Luke was coming. He had left his 4x4 and portable tree stand the weekend before, he wouldn’t spend the opening of the bow season without those.”
The afternoon passed slowly, around 4:00 pm I heard a 4 wheeler south of me towards the lake, It could be Luke checking our first bear bait stand which was south of where I was. I decided this would be a good time to shoot a couple more rounds from my 270, to let him know which stand I was at. I shot and than waited to hear something, nothing happened. I must have heard someone else on a 4 wheeler.
Reality was setting in, I realized that I had better get my head screwed on straight and get my mind and body ready to spend one more night out there, it was looking more and more likely that that was going to happen. The wind had stopped and the sky was clear, it was getting cold early this evening so I expected a really cold night. I looked at the sky, it appeared to be getting dark but my watch said it was only 7:00 pm. I looked at my watch again, it had stopped. This was not good, I hated the thought of spending the night without knowing what time it was.
I checked myself over from top to bottom, I used my leg tool to make sure my socks were pulled up and my pant legs were pushed down. I pulled my big stick close to me for company and double checked the notches to make sure I hadn’t gained or lost a day. I was as ready as I could be so I closed my cocoon and started my night time routine to stay warm and to stay awake.
Sometime during the night my brain functions kind of changed, this is the part where things start to get a little weird. I believe I was having something I have read about called an out of body experience. If you chose not to believe what I’m going to tell you I will understand, and if you think that I was just getting close to ‘checking out’, you are probably correct.
What ever it was that was happening to me, it was strange and it went something like this; my conciseness or brain functions seemed to transfer to a kind of control center someplace above my body, my minds eye could look down and send commands where ever they were needed: Right leg, you need to adjust, keep that circulation going, right leg, help the left leg move a little bit; right arm, move off that hump before it cuts off the circulation; right shoulder, move up and down; arms, hug your body, help it keep warm; diaphragm, sing, pump some warm air; legs move some more, muscles, flex. It went on and on like that. While this was happening I didn’t feel any pain and I wasn’t cold. Eventually though a command was sent for my eyes to peak out from the cocoon and check the sky, at this point my mind and body seemed to join again and the reasoning/thinking part of my brain took over once more.
Chapter 7 – Saturday, 9/15/2007:
When I peaked out at the sky from my cocoon I could see that the stars were getting dim, perhaps it was getting cloudy or maybe it was the start of sunrise. I waited for as long as I could and then peaked out again, it was getting light, morning was here and I was still alive… I think.
The ground, the grass, the leaves and brush were full of frost, everything sparkled as the first light hit the ground. It was beautiful, what a glorious day!
I thought I could hear something, it sounded like a 4 wheeler, yes it defiantly was a 4 wheeler and it was getting closer. Luke was coming! As the sound got closer and closer a rush of adrenalin went through my body and my brain snapped to attention, I pulled the hood back off my head and opened up the cocoon. As Luke pulled up I threw my arms in the air and yelled ‘don’t run over me’. It was a wonderful feeling, almost overwhelming. Luke checked me over and asked how I was, I told him I was OK but my hip was broken and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even lift my head to talk to him, I didn’t have enough strength left. We had a few words and Luke covered me with his insulated coat and then jumped on his 4 wheeler to go for help.
My minds eye followed him all the way to the lake, I could almost hear him make the 911 call and I almost anticipated the first sound of the sirens when they started in Remer. I could hear and follow the sound as it came south on hi-way six and turned east on the county road just south of Big Rice lake. When the sirens stopped at my place I knew that I would soon be out of the woods and on my way to the hospital.
Remer has as fine a volunteer fire department, Medic Unit and Rescue Team as you will find anyplace in the country. They know their job and they do it very well. This morning was no exception. They came to me with a whole team that had me ready in no time for a rough ride on a stretcher, in a trailer, behind a 4x4, for about a mile back to the road.
The ambulance delivered me to Grand Rapids where they took x-rays of my hip and determined that my leg bone was broken near the hip, the hip socket was broken and my pelvis was broken. Grand Rapids did not have an Orthopedic surgeon on duty that weekend so they recommended that I transfer to St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth.
When I arrived at St. Luke’s hospital the emergency staff was ready for me.
The story of my recovery at St. Luke’s could easily fill a whole book and that story deserves a greater writing talent than I possess, so I’m going to close this story with a big thank you to all of the Doctors, nurses and therapist at St. Luke’s. You are all great,… the very best!
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