has not been a good year when the nurses in the emergency room call you
by your first name. As in, "Roll on in here, Lee, what did ya
do this time?"
was talking to her grown daughter on the phone Sunday morning.
"Yep, I’ve finally talked your father into going to the
hospital. He’s in the bedroom now tryin’ to get his shirt on
over the bad shoulder. Just a minute, I can’t hear ya over his
groanin’, let me just close the bedroom door."
began slowly and built up till Lee finally had said, "I can’t
sleep on my left side ’cause of my bad arm, my right side ’cause of
my bad leg, or my back ’cause of my bad back." The shoulder
had been the accumulated erosion and stalagmatization of buckin’ hay,
preg-checking cows and roping. He actually started wearing button-up
undershirts since he couldn’t raise his arm above his head. That
worked until he broke his thumb in a hitchhiking accident and couldn’t
button his shirt.
get the shoulder fixed some day," he told the emergency room doctor
as they were taping his thumb. He repeated the commitment two
months later as they were recasting the re-broken thumb. Judy had
always been resigned to his reluctance to get immediate medical
help. She watched him for years limp and bang around the house
always waiting ‘one more day to see how it does.’ Her friends
often lectured her about taking better care of him. She reminded them
that there were rare occasions when she whisked him right to the
hospital emergency room in Steamboat, an hour away. It was the two times
he’d been unconscious.
hurt his ankle this morning tryin’ to rope a sick calf," Judy
continued explaining to her daughter. "…corral was icy, the
horse went down. He went ahead and finished checkin’ the new
calves. Now he can’t get his boot off…I better go help
him. Bye, love ya."
got Lee loaded in the car but about halfway to Steamboat, he decided he
better cut the boot off. She pulled over and came around the
passenger side to help. He handed her his pocketknife.
"It’s sharp," he said, "Yeoww!"
she wheeled him into the emergency room, everybody said, "Hey
Lee! How’s the thumb? How’s the knee?" How’s the
shoulder?" Judy had to explain why there was blood and a
knife wound in the injured right ankle. They were going to sedate him
and had some official questions. "Does he have a church
affiliation?" She replied, "If we were religious we’da
been in church this morning and this never woulda happened."
afternoon, they wheeled him out to the car with his ankle tightly
wrapped. "Now don’t let him put any weight on that."
they told her.
for everything, I’ll take good care of him!" she promised as she
accidentally shut the door on his foot!
Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed
nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public
appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and