He was jolted by 7200 volts of electricity at the Holland substation after a snow storm. He had given his safety gloves to someone else because he didn’t think he’d have to climb. They needed him so he stepped up and when he did, he slipped on the ice. As he was falling, he ever so slightly brushed the hot wire with his left middle finger.
That was all it took. The 72 hundred volts of electricity traveled through his body… miraculously in between heart beats… searching for the nearest exit. Had it traveled when his heart was beating, his heart would have exploded.
That vicious current exited his body blowing out his right forearm, his right fingers, his right leg close to his knee, and the arch of his right foot causing devastating destruction.
He had a bizarre thought as he fell – “I forgot to shave.” It was the morning of New Year’s Eve 1974, and he had planned to take his lovely wife out for dinner that evening. Always thinking of others first.
He perished when he hit the ground. Dan, his friend and coworker, frantically worked strenuously, keeping him alive as he went in and out of consciousness. He was flown by medical airplane to the St. Paul Ramsey Hospital Burn Center where he endured violent excruciating pain as the medical team tweezed away at the burned skin where the electricity had charred his body.
They meticulously plucked and pulled piece by piece of that black scorched skin until they reached the flesh that had life. This procedure was performed behind sound proof doors so the screams couldn’t be heard by others.
He went through many painful skin grating surgeries. They needed healthy skin to replace what had been burned away.
He coded while on the operating table during one of those skin grafting operations. Doctors frantically worked hard to bring him back. He was revived! The surgeons never again used that anesthesia on him.
After three torturous months in the burn unit, he was discharged and allowed to go home. The healing process required just as much resilience and fight as what was needed while in the hospital.
The doctors wanted to sew his hand into his belly to help his burned off, skin grafted fingers heal. He said no and promised to soak those stubs several times a day in peroxide. He also promised to make sure his stubbed fingers would not grow together. So he gently pulled them apart several times a day regardless of the agony it caused. All this while tending to his skin grafted right forearm, leg, and foot.
Before he was discharged, those doctors body slammed him with devastating news…they told him that he’d be lucky to live five more years because of all the unknown effects of that electrocution. They told him he would have very little use of that right arm once it was healed.
He displayed the true grit of a survivor. He lived for 40 more years beyond that tragic accident, and he had 85% use of that arm. He proved those doctors wrong!
He was courageous and brave and strong and tenacious and determined and tough. Most importantly, he was so very loving and kind and generous and patient and honorable and a true gentleman.
He was my dad! ❤
So when I start to have a pity party because I think life is tough and unfair, I just think of my dad and say a silent prayer of thanks.
Stay Calm & Display Grit!