Archive for May, 2011

Under a tornado

We were hosting a home group Sunday evening, when one of the ladies in the group got a phone call from her dad, who is an over-the-road truck driver.  He was in Minnesota, but called because he was very concerned about their family.  They live next-door to us and were all at our house that evening.  He told her that Joplin had been leveled by a tornado.

I confess that I tend to be skeptical.  Leveled by a tornado?  Umm. . . probably not.  But to be on the safe side, we turned on the TV.  When they showed video of St. John’s hospital in Joplin with most of its roof gone, I got the concept.  A large portion of Joplin had indeed been leveled by a tornado.

Not only that, the weather radar looked ominous to our southwest (the direction from which most of our weather usually comes), and the meteorologist was saying that a severe thunderstorm and tornado were heading east and would be at the Hwy 65/Hwy 160 interchange in five minutes.  We live on 160, two miles east of 65!  He was urging people in Merriam Woods, Walnut Shade, and Rockaway Beach to seek shelter immediately.

Well, there were 16 of us at the house, so we called everyone together, prayed, and then went down into the cellar.  I’m really glad it’s only slightly smelly now.  We stood around down there for about ten minutes, discussing our lesson, and when we came up, it was just raining hard and very windy.  We finished out the group, and by the time people left, it was just raining lightly.

I guess the tornado passed over us, but we had no damage or problem.  Unlike the city of Joplin.  Oh, my goodness.  It’s hard to even imagine the agony those folks are experiencing.

Tonight and tomorrow, we are told to be prepared for more thunderstorms and possibly more tornadoes.  Then, to add insult to injury for the folks along Lake Taneycomo, the Corps of Engineers has once again opened all ten floodgates on the Table Rock Lake Dam.  You can read more about the flood situation here.

In the article linked above, there’s mention of Bull Shoals Dam also releasing water.  Maybe someone’s not aware that Chuck already hauled our van back, and they’re finally releasing water to help us out.  = )

Andrew asked me last night, why, if God COULD have lifted the tornado up and over Joplin, he didn’t.  I didn’t have a good answer for that one.


God willing and the creek don’t rise. . .

We wonder if our good friend Chuck is crazy.  We already know he’s one incredibly nice guy.

He went with us Monday night to scope out the van situation and to help place the depth stick for future analyses.  He told us he had a car trailer and a Kubota tractor (not sure how big that tractor is), and that when he got home he was going to measure the tractor to see if it might be high enough to pull the van through the crossing.

He and Scott talked today, and the plan now seems to be for Chuck to drive from his house (he lives about 15 miles from us out in the general direction of where the van’s located) to our house to pick up a van key.  I can’t take him a key because I have no car today.  I’m assuming he will then drive back home, hook his trailer to his pickup, put the tractor on the trailer, and haul it all some ten miles down to the now-infamous crossing.

Then he’ll drive the tractor off the trailer, detach the trailer from the truck and hook it to the tractor, zip our van key into a pocket, pray hard, and drive the tractor and trailer through the flooded crossing.  He’ll locate and start our trusty micro-van, drive it onto the trailer and secure it with some kind of tie-downs, and use the tractor to pull it all back through the water to the near side, where he’ll drive the van off the trailer and leave it locked by the side of the road for our later retrieval.  Then he’ll have to detach the trailer from the tractor, hook the trailer to the pickup, drive the tractor back onto the trailer, and haul it all back home.

I would REALLY like to be there to witness and photograph the whole venture, but I have to leave for a meeting in Springfield this afternoon as soon as Jessica gets back with the car.   Right now, I’d better go make Chuck some cookies, so he’ll have something yummy to pick up along with the key.

Cane Creek down a bit

Scott, Jessica, and I ventured out there on Monday evening (May 16) with our good friend, Chuck Pennel, and Jessica and Scott waded across to check on the van (which was fine).  The water was to Jessica’s waist at the deepest part, measured at about 3 feet, 2 inches.  Scott made a little measuring implement with a narrow piece of lumber and a cinder block, and they marked one-foot lines on it and set it at a specific point.  Now we can just drive over there and peer at the stick, without having to wade across and get soaked just to check the depth.

We’ve been advised that it’s vitally important not to get water in your tail pipe (and hence into the exhaust system), as that could necessitate, “a very expensive repair.”  Mini vans’ tail pipes tend to hang low, so one knowledgeable friend said he wouldn’t risk driving the van through a crossing that was more than a foot deep.  We have a ways to go to get to that point.

However, in driving to the trailhead, Scott successfully drove the van through what he thinks was about two feet of water.  Evidently if you stall out in the middle and have to try to re-start the vehicle, that’s when water can get sucked into the exhaust system.  But if you just plow straight through without stopping, you can be okay.

Scott’s latest idea is to find someone with a really big truck who could pull a trailer across, load the van on the trailer (which would get the van up a foot or so higher) and have the truck pull it back across.  We have friends who are checking the height of their various trucks, tractors, etc. for possibilities.

Meanwhile, the chance of rain over the next ten days ranges from 10% to 50% at Kissee Mills, the community nearest to the pertinent low water crossing. May Cane Creek continue to go down!

Doggone It!

Announced by Andrew’s young friend, Pierce, in a breathless and upset tone, as the two boys burst into our living room on  Saturday afternoon:  “Mack hurt Andrew’s dad a lot and my dad’s fixing him now.  It’s looks really bad, but I didn’t see any bone.”

Hmmm.   Coming from a seven or eight-year-old kid, you’ve got to wonder.  The dog probably scratched Scott, and Pierce’s dad, who happens to be an EMT, is probably putting a Band-Aid on it.  However, when Pierce continued to tell me the details, I decided should probably call Scott and see what was up.

I called and got his voice mail.

The boys had run back outside, so I figured maybe I should drive over to their house (just a couple doors down) and see if Scott needed me to do anything.  The Honda was in the driveway, but the Honda keys were gone.  Rats.  Okay, so I’d walk over there.  Just as I headed out the door, Scott called.

“Are you okay?”

(slowly, as if he were a bit light-headed)  “Yes, I’m okay.”

“The boys said the dog bit you.  Do you need me to come and get you?”

(again, slowly, not his usual speaking voice)  “Yes, that would be good.”

“Do you have the Honda keys?”

“Uh. . . yes, I have them right here.”

“Well, I can’t come get you without the keys. I’ll run down and get them and then drive the Honda over to get you.”

“No, Michael said he’d bring me, but we have to go to the E.R. to get stitches.”

“Okay, as soon as Michael brings you home, I’ll take you.”

I quickly changed clothes, grabbed a few things, and met Michael at the door.   Michael was very, very apologetic, and offered to take Scott to the E.R. or to follow us there.  I told him we’d be fine, and off we went.

There were spots of blood on Scott’s jeans, and blood seeping through a long gauze bandage that Michael (or maybe his wife) had wrapped around Scott’s upper arm.  I asked if they’d cleaned the wound, and he said no, that they had just wrapped it up and said it would definitely have to be stitched.  He was talking better now, and his color was good.  I was glad of that, because Scott has a history of fainting at the sight of blood, especially his own.

On the way, he told me what had happened.  He had gone to their house to invite them to a home group we’d be hosting the following night.  Michael’s family has two dogs, a large dumb brown female named Molly and a Great Dane named Mack.  Mack is quite enormous and quite dumb.  He used to run loose all over the place digging up the neighbors flowers and tomatoes and stuff, so months ago, Michael installed an underground electric fence and put him on a shock collar.

Now, Jessica runs and prays on Coffee Road every morning, and Mack is a real nuisance to her.  He tries to chase her, and he’s especially obnoxious if he’s off his shock collar.  She either carries a big stick (like a brookstick) to beat him off, or she carries rocks, which she has to throw at him to persuade him to leave her alone.

So, when Scott went into their yard Saturday afternoon, both dogs were out, and he called to Pierce to “call his dogs off.”  Pierce called to them, and they followed him up onto the porch.  They were almost into the house and Scott was following them toward the porch, when Mack turned around and attacked Scott.

He’s so big that he didn’t even have to jump.  He started biting at Scott’s chest and then grabbed his arm, biting down hard and slinging the arm back and forth like a piece of meat.  Scott was trying to beat him off and finally got free.  Michael heard the commotion and came out to help Scott into the house, at which point Scott was just about to faint.   Seeing Scott’s condition, Michael called 911, and they were just about to dispatch an ambulance when Scott pinked up a bit.

Being an EMT, Michael was thankfully not unnerved by the extent of the injury, which was pretty severe.  He and his wife wrapped it up and Michael drove Scott to our house, along with many apologies and assurances that Mack would be put down.

Dreading the probable wait at the E.R., we opted for Urgent Care (also located at Skaggs Hospital), where we were immediately given an “Animal Bite Report” form to fill out.  Before I had even completed the form, a nurse came and got Scott.  It was the quickest we had ever been served at Urgent Care.

Vitals were taken and Scott was seated in a throne-like chair in the treatment room.  He had a very pleasant nurse named Noemi, who was a native of Puerto Rico and had arrived in Branson some 11 years ago via New York.

Dr. Max Goodwin, who moved here from southeast Iowa a couple years ago, came in and introduced himself.  He’s the director of the clinic, so we figured Scott would get great care.

To this point, no one had actually seen the injury, and to get to it, the gauze Michael’s wife had applied would need to be cut off.  As Nurse Noemi approached with scissors, Dr. Goodwin said, “I think you’ll need to cut his shirt here, right up the middle, to get to it.”  I was stunned.  Scott would be appalled to have his favorite Cardinals T-shirt sliced.  However, it turns out that the good doctor was joking.  He’s a big Cubs fan.    = )

Once the gauze was removed and all could see what Mack had done to Scott’s arm, I was shocked and much more than slightly embarrassed.  I had never seen such an injury in my life.  It was huge.  It was shaped like a very large mouth.  It was deep.  It was raw flesh, and I could not conceive of any way it could possible be sewn back together.  (Update:  I had mentioned in an email that it was 7″ by 2″, but I am pretty sure it was actually more like 3″ wide.)

I asked the doctor if I could take a picture of the wound before he sewed it up.  He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “If you want to, I guess so.”  I wanted to.  I did.

Scott was asked to roll onto his right side to give the nurse and doctor better access to the back of his left upper arm.  Scott can’t lie on his left side right now, because his four broken ribs are all on the left, so I guess it’s a good thing Mack attacked his left arm instead of his right.  Once thus positioned, the fun began.

First, Scott got to endure a series of injections to deaden the area, and since the area was so large, it took a LOT of injections.  Next came the cleaning.  A lot of pink soapy liquid was poured repeatedly over the whole mess, and then it was all swabbed quite a bit with sterile gauze.  Watching that, I realized that if they hadn’t deadened it, he would have been in agony as they cleaned it.  It made me think of what all those Civil War soldiers went through.

Then the stitching began.  It was quite the needlework project, let me tell you.  I couldn’t see so well from where I was sitting, so after the first stitch was in, I moved around to the other side of the room where I could see Scott’s face and rub his right hand and head.

It took Dr. Goodwin a long time to sew him up.  We got to the Urgent Care at 2:45 PM, and they took him in less than five minutes.  There were maybe 15 or 20 minutes of preliminaries, and we left at 4:10 PM, so it’s fair to say the stitching took about an hour.

It was a long, dog-leg (no pun intended) shape, and partway through, the doctor asked me to go out in the hall and call a nurse in, so that she could hand him additional sutures.  I guess he had under-estimated how long the incision would end up being.  When he finished, he measured the end result:  13 cm (about 7 inches).  He had put in 13 stitches, purposely widely spaced because he said the risk of infection with dog bites was very high, and if it became infected, part of the incision might have to be re-opened.  Widely spaced sutures would make that easier to do.

Noemi slathered on some antibiotic ointment, covered it with a Telfa (non-adhering) pad, and wrapped it with Coban (that stretchy, tan, mesh-looking stuff that sticks to itself).  Dr. Goodwin brought us a prescription for generic Augmentin (antibiotic) and told us to change the dressing twice a day, washing the wound with warm soapy water, letting it air dry, for the first three days applying Neosporin, then covering it with a clean Telfa pad, and wrapping it with Coban.  We were also to find out immediately whether or not Mack had had all his immunizations, and if not, to call the police.

While the doctor was out writing the prescription, Nurse Noemi quietly handed me several Telfa pads and the rest of the roll of Coban she had used, and told me to put them in my purse.  I did, with much appreciation, and we were good to go.

At the checkout desk, we were unsure how to pay.  Normally, we’d have them run it through our insurance and then pay the balance remaining, but in this case, it would seem that the medical costs would be Michael’s responsibility.  In fact, a couple people had told us that his homeowner’s insurance should pay it.  We had Scott’s Blue Cross card with us, but we didn’t happen to be carrying any proof of Michael’s homeowner’s insurance.  For better or worse, we sent it to our insurance, and hopefully Michael will reimburse us, or his insurance will reimburse Blue Cross, or something.  (Note:  I do think that in the past 18 months, Scott has gotten his money’s worth out of his VERY expensive Blue Cross policy – the policy that he has complained about and has wanted to cancel for some time:  an ambulance ride; a dislocated hip and subsequent reduction; a serious concussion; a night in the hospital; all the follow-up appointments, X-rays, and physical therapy from that ski accident; four broken ribs; and now a severe dog bite.  I’m glad he still has the insurance!)

We headed to Walgreens to get his antibiotic prescription filled, and while waiting I learned that although Urgent Care may have access to 6″ wide Coban, mere humans cannot buy it; at least not  at Walgreens or Wal-Mart.  I did manage to find a Curad substitute for the 3″ by 8″ Telfa pads, so we bought those and the drugs and headed home.

Now it’s Tuesday, and this morning Scott went to his family physician, Dr. Salmon, for the follow-up exam that Dr. Goodwin ordered.  We are very thankful that there is no sign of infection and it’s all healing nicely.  Dr. Salmon thinks we should now apply Neosporin only to the suture holes (not to the incision itself), and he plans to take the stitches out on Friday and replace them with Steri-Strips.

Meanwhile, we have heard nothing from Michael or his wife, and they didn’t come to the home group.  We have assumed that Mack is no more, but Pierce told Andrew yesterday that, “We took Mack to Uncle Shane’s house.  He’s gonna stay there for a while and then come back here.”  I am sincerely hoping that the seven-year-old doesn’t have his story straight.

Update:  Tuesday night May 17, a friend emailed me this post from Michael’s facebook:

“He was trying to play with ***** and ***** got scared and raised his arms up jerking one of them out of mac’s hold causing a laceration. Mac is at a friends house right now playing with lots of kids. Never shown aggression. Don’t know of a Great Dane that has though……Maybe thinking of taking him to a trainer and then bringing him back…..”

Cane Creek levels

I’m sure that no one has ever been as interested in the levels of Cane Creek at the Cross Timbers Road low water crossing as I have been of late.

Here are the depth measurements we know of:

Saturday, May 7:         2 feet  (approximate)

Sunday, May 8:             2 feet, 6 inches  (approximate)

Tuesday, May 10:        2 feet, 10 inches  (measured)

Wednesday, May 11:   3 feet, 4 inches  (measured)

This has all been in a period of no rain, and I don’t know if it’s crested yet or not.  The forecast for the next few days calls for about a 50% chance of severe thunderstorms.  We are not stupid; we know that it is likely that it will rain during our van’s little sabbatical in Hercules Glade.  We are just praying for God to make a way for the standing water and any additional precipitation to be removed from that particular concrete slab as soon as possible.

The kids did get the van moved higher up yesterday.  They say it’s about ten vertical feet higher than it was.  I told Scott that we should look on the bright side:  We won’t need to rush to get all those outstanding repairs done now.  He replied that we could just forget about the heat shield and just drive it back and forth through the water a few times to cool it off.   = )

Explanation: why the van is where it is

In re-reading some of my posts, I realized that I never explained how the van got on the far side of Cane Creek in the first place.

Basically, on Saturday afternoon May 7, Scott took Andrew backpacking.  They drove some 20 miles to Hercules Glade, and to get to the trail head, drove through the flooded low water crossing at Cane Creek.  (Scott later told me that it was so deep that he felt that the van was floating a bit at one point!)

They had a wonderful father-son time, hiking, camping, exploring, etc.  It was a great event.  The next day, Andrew called around 12:3o PM to say that they had just gotten back to the van and were pulling out.  They had had, “an AWESOME time!”  At 12:35 PM, Scott called to ask me to send Josiah to get them.  The connection was awful, and all I could catch was a few words like, “Josiah. . . us. . .water. . . can’t pull. . .”  He eventually moved somewhere with a better connection and was able to give me directions to where they were.

Jessica and Josiah took the Honda over there and waded back and forth through the two foot deep water to get all their gear out of the van.  They got most everything and left the van high up on the far side of the creek, locked.

Knowing that flooded creeks tend to drop quickly – at the least the one here by our house does – we planned to go back Tuesday evening and drive the the van home.

Needless to say, things didn’t quite work out like that!

From the sheriff’s department

I got a call from a very nice lady at the sheriff’s department this afternoon. She told me that the county had a road grader out working in the Hercules Glades area, and that he had found our van and “our” two dogs (NOT our dogs – actually strays that someone had dropped near the van).  The sheriff’s department wanted to make sure we were not stranded with the van and that there weren’t hikers stuck out in the woods there.  They were also concerned about the dogs, which I told her were not ours and ought to be taken to the humane society.

In addition, the sheriff’s department wants the van moved to higher ground because, “there’s no plan to release any water, and if the water level rises, the van could be washed away where it’s parked now.”  Lovely.  I guess with everything flooded, even a little bit of rain could raise the water level a lot.  I thought the van was five or six feet above the water level of two feet ten inches that Scott waded through on Tuesday morning, but Josiah said that when he and Jessica had rescued the guys on Sunday afternoon (when the creek was significantly lower) he had thought the van was only three feet above water  then.  Who knows?   The kind lady asked me if we had a key hidden that she could tell the county guy to use to move it, but unfortunately, the only keys are here at home.
I told her to please let the sheriff know that we are NOT abandoning the van, that we desperately need it at home, and that we simply didn’t know of any way to get it home until the water goes down.  She said she understood and asked if we realized that it could be months before that happens.  Sigh.  Yes, we realize that.  I asked her what she would do if it were HER van stuck on the far side of the creek.  “Well,” she said slowly.  “Do you have full coverage?  Do you know if it would cover it?”
“No, we only have liability.”
 “I honestly don’t know.  Our man with the grader was able to get across the creek, but even if you had a boat, I don’t know how you could float it across.”
I thanked her and told her that we’d move the van to higher ground as soon as possible.  She asked how we could do that, and I replied, “drive to the crossing and wade (or swim) over with a key.”
In a bizarre twist of events, Jessica and her friend, Courtney, had gone over to Hercules Glade to do some hiking for fun – after SDC was closed on the one day they had planned to spend together before Courtney’s mission trip to Thailand and move out-of-state (AARRGGHH!) – so we called Jessica to see if she were still in the area and perhaps had a van key with her, in which case she could move it.  It turns out she had no van key, but they were in the area.  In fact, she and Courtney had been about to swim there in the creek right in front of the van!
Scott asked her to come home, get a van key, go back, and move the van.  So she and Courtney came home and got the key plus the boys.  The four of them are headed back to the Cane Creek crossing now.
Jessica said that they will have to drive past a Road Closed sign at the top of the hill (before you head down to the creek), but that she and Courtney had met the county grader guy and that he was very nice.  Sadly, he did not have any brainy ideas on how to get the van back across the creek.