Do-it-yourself Surgery, Part 2

Ranch View

Several years after the surgery on my foot, which healed up finally, I had to do a very minor one by myself, on myself.

We had been working cattle on our back range, many miles from the house. It usually took 3 days to move cattle from one pasture to the next, so we left home before daylight and returned after dark. The 1st morning, we rode to work, then corralled the horses in the evening and returned home in the back of my Dad’s cattle truck.

My Dad usually took the shortcut home. This shortcut was the dry creek bed, over rocks, small waterfalls, downed trees and other assorted obstacles that would cause most folks to at least pause before driving over or through them. Not my Dad.

The truck was a 2 1/2 ton cabover Jeep 4 (6) wheel drive. It seemed able to go just about anywhere and its main drawback was a distressing habit of losing a front wheel while being driven.

This night on our way home, Dad took another shortcut that might save a few minutes and drove us right off a small rock ledge. I was standing up, holding onto the stock rack for dear life and as we became slightly airborne, I swear my life flashed before my eyes just a little bit.

When we landed, I immediately wished we were back in freefall. The rack bounced out of the stake pockets and hit me under the lower lip, forcing it into my upper front teeth and I heard something snap. What goes up, usually comes down, and it did. Right on top of both my feet. I was wearing flipflops and they are not a lot of protection from a long section of stock rack.

I plopped on the bed of the truck, one hand over my mouth, the other holding my damaged foot. I bounced a lot on the rest of the ride, but it could not be helped, I could not stand.

I hobbled through the kitchen to the bathroom before Mom got a good look at the bloody mess of my mouth and shut the door behind me. I sat on the side of the tub and ran cold water over my feet and tried to pry my fingers away from my throbbing mouth and lower lip. Then I slid down to the floor and washed my face and hands in the tub of cold water.

Most of the bleeding seemed to stop, so I got up and let the messy water out of the tub and looked in the mirror. Yikes.

My lower lip was swollen way out with 2 dark lines across it, just under my lip. I could feel something in my lip so finally opened my mouth a bit and pulled my lip down. There, shining white through the blood were the backs of both my front teeth.

Somehow, the whole tooth had not broken off, just the enamel off the backs of both, so my teeth still looked fine from the front. I tried to pull the pieces out of my lip, but they were firmly embedded.

Out came the alcohol, the peroxide and the tweezers. I soaked the tweezers and then carefully pulled the pieces out of my lip. Then, I quickly poured the peroxide, then the alcohol over my lip and almost blacked out and sat firmly back down on the floor.

The thud I made hitting the floor brought Mom and she kinda yelped when she saw my bloody face as it was bleeding again.

I used a wet washcloth and held it firmly against my lip, wanting to whine the whole time. The bleeding stopped and Mom brought me some ice cubes to wrap in the washcloth. Most of the swelling went down before I went to bed, but by the next day, I was very colorful and sore. We finished the cattle and rode the horses home the next evening. Just another day on the ranch.


A One Eared Elephant


I was on the phone to Charlie who was working up north at the time when a friend stopped by the house. He was in a very good mood and wanted to go celebrate the very first contract of his new construction company. He had invited everyone he knew that had encouraged him and helped make it happen and needed a designated driver, too. That would be me.

Charlie and I had helped out as much as we could and we were both happy for our friend. Charlie told me to go ahead and go, enjoy myself and tell him all about it later.
A lady friend was living in our basement apartment at the time, so she came along also as it was going to be an enjoyable evening out for everyone. The fact that it was around -40 degrees and heavy ice fog didn’t dim the mood of the celebrants.

I made sure we had enough warm clothing just in case of any problems with the vehicle and we headed over to the Pump House on Chena Pump Road.

This is a nice restaurant (President Reagan ate there) and most of the people invited were already waiting for us to show up. We were seated in the middle of the main dining room and the place was crowded. Just because it was a very cold night didn’t mean people didn’t go out on a Saturday night.

The food was great, drinks flowed freely and everyone was having an entertaining evening but the instigator of our group decided it was too dull. He wanted some dancing and music.

The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to extend the evening and enjoy being entertained. Finally he jumped up on the table and started telling jokes. Several people at other tables started clapping and hooting, encouraging him to greater lengths. He did a few dance steps but no one would get up on the table with him to dance.

He finally couldn’t think of any more stories or jokes to tell and decided to ask the growing audience if anyone there had ever seen a one eared elephant. No one had.

He pulled one front pocket of his jeans out and fanned the material out nicely, then started to unbutton his pants.

Several of us managed to get him down off the table and hustled out the door as management was on the phone even as we bundled him out the door.

The slap of the freezing night air hit him like an actual slap to the face as we stuffed him into his winter coat and then into the pickup. He tried to convince us he could drive but we overruled that immediately and he gave in.

The backseat was full of tools and winter gear, so all three of us had to squish together in the front seat.

I only had to pull over once for him to hurl and we were almost to my house, when the flashing red lights appeared behind us. I pulled over immediately.

The Officer was very nice, but there was a tail light out on the pickup. He got a recap of the entire evening from my passengers, he asked if he should follow us home and assist us into the house. I told him I thought we could get in the house okay, but I would appreciate him following us in the heavy ice fog with the back light out.

We made it home okay and the officer was kind enough to wait until we were in the house before he pulled away.