Merriam-Webster defines passion as: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept. It was passion that nearly cost our most recent patient his life.
Robert S, “Bob” as he liked to be called, was very passionate about everything outdoors, especially hunting. Younger looking than his 62 years of age, Bob retired three years ago from his vocation as a school teacher in Michigan. He is the father of two adult sons, whom often accompanied him on his annual deer hunting trips to Kansas. Unfortunately, the most recent, and sadly his last, trip ended in tragedy for Bob.
In the early morning hours of November 1st, Bob was climbing up to his deer stand just as he had done hundreds of times before when suddenly without warning the straps that secured the stand to the tree gave way. Both Bob and the deer stand came crashing down to the ground. It was later estimated the fall to be between 25 to 30 feet. By the grace of our God, one of his sons was with him that day. His son immediately called EMS and began to render aid to his father. Bob had lost consciousness for a brief period of time after the fall, but when he fully awoke again, he realized he couldn’t move his lower extremities.
He was airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center for acute trauma care. It was determined he suffered Cervical (neck) C2-C6, Thoracic (chest) T1-T3, and Lumbar (lower back) spinal fractures along with other serious internal injuries. He required mechanical ventilation to maintain his respiratory status and also needed a gastric feeding tube for nutritional support due the fact he was unable to swallow. His fractures were successfully repaired and his other injuries healed; however, the fall caused Bob to suffer permanent paralysis from the nipple line down.
He spent seven weeks in various ICU units at KU Med Center continuing to improve, while his family commuted as often as they could from their Michigan home.
It was finally determined that he was stable enough travel, but unable to make the 11 hour trip by ambulance from Kansas City to a rehab hospital in Grand Rapids, MI. GOW was called to assist in his transfer back to Michigan.
My partner, Glenn and I were picked up at the Kansas City Downtown Airport by two outstanding KCFD paramedics and taken to the medical center where we picked up Bob and his son Jon. Apprehensive about flying, Bob was heavily sedated prior to our arrival to the hospital. We loaded him and Jon into the ambulance and returned to the airport.
Our 1 hour and 47 minute flight from Kansas City to Grand Rapids was uneventful thanks to our skilled cockpit crew of Hal and D.J, not to mention the aforementioned sedative medication. We were well into our flight before he woke up enough to ask if we were airborne. When we landed I said to him, “Bob, welcome back home to Michigan.” I can’t begin to describe the smile on his face when he heard me say that!
After another short ambulance ride from the airport, Bob was at his new “home” in downtown Grand Rapids. He was admitted to the beautiful, ultra-modern Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. What an impressive facility.
When Glenn and I were packed up and ready to leave, both Bob and his Jon were moved to tears when we wished them God’s blessing and presented them with a Bible and the small hand carved wooden cross given to each patient. What a perfect ending to a perfect mission!
In HIS name,
Alan Taber, R.N.
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