July to November 1962
A lot I don’t remember. A lot I probably remember incorrectly. A whole lot best forgotten. Here are the things that stick with me now.
We overwhelmed the little ER in Snyder that day. I was awake during the ambulance ride and the first few minutes after our arrival. I remember expressing my concern about JB. I am sure shock prevented me from experiencing the pain associated with my injury. After declining pain meds…things caught up with me and I accepted them gladly and sort of disconnected from the scene. In and out for a few hours and then just out. Black.
I was told that a surgeon flew in in a private plane from Lubbock and performed a laminectomy or decompression of T10-T11 vertebra to relieve the pressure. (note: now 55 years later that remains the only surgery done on my spine)
Weeks later, I rejoined my family and friends (and many people I did not know) in a hospital room in the same hospital I barely remember. That room would be home for 91 days. For about 80 plus days I was in a weird sort of traction. A bar ran from the head of the bed to the foot about 3′ above me. From that bar a sling dropped around my torso suspending me a few inches above the bed…butt and shoulders resting on the bed. No side to side, no up and down..one position.
This next part will sound strange, but I now understand it was God’s grace for me. Not just for then but now also. Those days were and are a sweet time in my life. I made many friends and deepened many friendships. I learned the difference between important and critical. I stayed in one spot and watched the world go by and somehow realized what was happening. It was also a time that started me thinking too much of myself…a trait that caused me and others much pain over the next few years.My parents rose to the challenge and were there for me but not without consequences. They fell into a routine of Mom driving the 31 miles to the hospital every morning and spending the day…the back to Roby for the night. Dad would show up before 7:00 pm, spending the night on a fold up cot and then leave in time to be at work back in Roby. They kept this schedule all the time I was unconscious and for a month or so beyond. Basically for 6 weeks they did not have more than a few minutes with each other.
The first half of August I was unconscious and critical the second half. A short time after school started things began a easier rhythm for everyone. Cricket went back to school. Mom came most days but only stayed a few hours. Dad would not come every night but would still spend a great deal of time there on the weekends. A regular weekend visit was my Aunt Shorty and cousin Elaine. Elaine’s then boyfriend Kenneth Campbell would drive them the 88 miles from Haskell every weekend. The three of them have been a solid and valuable part of my life all these years although we lost Aunt Shorty just last year (2016).
This is getting long so maybe more on this time in another story. But let me say the people I remember from this time and were part of my being able to persevere each have a story in my life. They include Lee who was important then and later became the most important person in my life. Others are Coach Hodges and Kenneth (Coach) Rasco for keeping me part of things. Nurse Beasley who shared her whole family with me. Dr Rogers who saved my life and became my friend. My posse who came and went at all hours of the day or night…sometimes bring watermelons that were acquired directly from the field. That posse includes, Gary Don Smith, Tony Foreman, Hershey Cordell, Jerry Neighbors, John Barry Huey, Gary West, Horace Mallard and several others. Many have literally carried me at times in my life and some will carry me in death.