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.


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