You know you've won, in life, when people pay you to do what you would pay them to let you do

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Big Wreck

If my cowboy had a nickel (I think I say that a lot) for every time he'd been in some wreck or another he'd be rich. I wrote my occupation as cowboy-keeper-aliver, for a reason.

A few years ago, the day before my birthday, I had taken the big geldings over to the farrier. I begged my cowboy to come with me because I was worried; I knew he was tired. We were working on the ranch and there were so many yearlings to treat for foot rot an pink eye (at least 6 or 7 a day running in about 17 square miles of pasture) that he refused to come and took out a little grey horse we call Trouper (actually I call him Grumpy now) to do the work by himself.

While I was getting the horse's feet done the lady there came out with the phone in her hand and asked me: "Has the hospital got hold of you?" My heart sank. I told her no. She said: "This is your boss on the phone." I was trembling when I took the receiver from her, prepared for the worst.

On the other end he said: "He's been hurt but it's all fixable (Sigh of relief) but you might want to go to the hospital, the Stars Air Ambulance has flown him there." (I knew that meant it was bad).

I got to the hospital and the hospital's social worker met me at the door. It was her job to help the family of those who were flown into this big city hospital. "He looks bad," she tried to warn me. I told her: "He's a cowboy, I've seen him busted up before. He's on his third nose" (a lame attempt at humor). She never even smiled.

When I saw him I was glad she had said something because his chin was all but kicked off (hanging off to the left side of his face) his bottom dentures were gone (later we found a piece of them in his pocket, go figure) and I could see his tongue waggling around in his mouth when he tried to talk.

While I watched they tried taking his top dentures out and his face moved like I never thought possible.

One of the nurses asked him if he was allergic to any thing. He only said one word, "Sheep." I smiled but she said "Excuse me?" oblivious to the joke he was trying to make.

I stayed in the hotel in the city that night and the next day, my birthday, sitting by his hospital bed as he slept. And the next 4 months I tried to take care of him while he recuperated. A lot of that involved him sleeping.

The ranch boss kept him on even though he wasn't working, though Worker's Compensation paid a portion of his wages to us and the bosses didn't have to. Still we were living in the house by the creek that was supplied for the hired man which meant they couldn't hire anyone else really.

Two weeks after the accident he said his arm hurt and we found out it had been broken but they hadn't discovered it. I guess the morphine had mostly covered up the pain.

He couldn't remember exactly what happened. He'd roped a yearling, it charged his horse, the horse started bucking and the next he remembered he was standing on the ground with his rope coiled in his hand, the horse beside him, my dog Blue was looking up at him. He'd walked half a mile to the trailer loaded the horse and the dog and drove to the hi-way, pretty sure he had been in a wreck.

He knew I'd be mad if he didn't go to the doctor so he turned and headed north towards the closest town. Gradually he became a little more aware and noticed blood on his gloves and then looking down noticed a river of blood running down the front of his shirt. At  a hundred K (60 miles per hour) he turned the rear view mirror to look at his face. You can imagine his horror when he saw it.

It's dangerous work what we do. My cowboy puts in most folk's entire lifetime of riding in less than one month. It's just the odds we deal with. Yaah, it's all a romantic dream but the reality of it is hard. One thing you have to realize is that cowboys are tough. If they weren't, they couldn't do their jobs.

And I'm pretty sure my cowboy has a tired guardian angel, besides me, that is.


Shirley said...

I can't believe he walked and drove in that condition. It's amazing what shock, adrenaline, and grit can do. Don't forget to thank his guardian angel! The romantic notions of life as a cowboy wear thin when you face the reality of hard work, injury, and tough conditions.

Nicole said...

They have the guardian angel's you hang on your visor that say never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly, he needs one to clip on his hat that says never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly!!

LindaG said...

I'm glad to hear he has two guardian angels. <3

Hope you all have a safe, blessed weekend. :)


The Wife said...

Wow! Cowboys are tough as nails. I remember every call I got about my dad. He cut his finger off dallying on a wheat pasture cow. He looked for it before he went to the ER. He walked in and the nurse asked what was wrong. He moved his hat and showed her his hand, blood everywhere, she hollered! Then he was riding one of his colts down the road, hit a hole, colt flipped. Broke his collar bone and ribs. Walked the horse home. Yelled at my mom to come outside and look the horse over. Made sure it was okay, then asked her to take him to the hospital.

Horse fell with him on concrete about a month ago. His boss made him go to the ER to make sure he was okay. Saddle horn hit him in the chest. He didn't bother to tell anyone he was at the hospital! Went back to work, then went home and mowed the grass! Dang Cowboys!