May 3, 2020, I volunteered to help clear some trees at my brother’s house in exchange for a BBQ supper that night. We as a group started working around 10:30 in the morning and needed to clear out some trees that were growing around an old barn that he wanted to tear down. I was in charge of falling the trees as I had 30 plus years of chain sawing experience under my belt. I felled all the trees, around 60-65 of them. Most of them were less than 5 inches round but had some larger ones also. I had all the trees on the ground and separated from the tree trunk except one.
Around 1pm, I worked on one very large tree growing out from under the footing of the barn at a 45 degree angle. I notched the underside of the tree and cut above the notch to fall the tree. However, the tree did not separate from the tree trunk but was on the ground. We as a group started to trim all trees that we on the ground and I worked on the above stated tree. I was trimming the large branches on this one tree and cut a pressure branch. The tree spun and did a 180 spin with me being hit in the head from a large branch from the other side of the tree.
I fell to the ground and got to my knees, waving my arms to get someone attention. No one saw the accident happen and I was not sure if the chainsaw got me or the tree. I looked over and the chainsaw was still running so I reached over and shut the chainsaw off and put my head down. Some members of the group saw me waving my arms and came over to see if they could help me but I told them that I needed to stay put as I was bleeding from the face area and I wanted the blood to go to the ground and not down my throat. I started to feel my face and knew that the left side was injured badly. I knew that my eye socket was broken along with my cheek area crushed in. I also felt my upper jaw area was loose and broken. I then figured that my lower jaw was broken also.
We decide or someone decided that we needed to call an ambulance to take me to the hospital and that I could not be taken in with a personal vehicle. At the hospital, they did a quick cat scan of my head and two doctors came in and told me it was bad. I ended up having two surgeries to fix my face with both eye sockets being broken, all sinus area being crushed in, the left upper jaw broken, and both sides of my lower jaw broken.
I ended up in the hospital for 5 nights, 6 day with 3 days in the ICU. I had no visitors due to Covid-19. They ended up putting in 6 plates in my face and wired my jaw shut. I went home and went downstairs to be in a darker place and find a nice recliner to live on for the next 3 weeks.
I posted on WOHT and my Facebook page asking for thoughts and prayers to help me. On the night of my accident, my brother, Nate who is also a hoof trimmer that I trained 18 years ago started to take calls offering to help me with my hoof trimming schedule. We help each other out as best as we can but with me working for 3 large dairies one day per week per dairy; Nate could not cover all my work. He ended up taking over my business for 3 weeks and worked with 5 other trimmers from 3 different states to help me. He also stated that there was at least another 20 offers of help from different trimmers.
While I was recovering, I knew that I was going to need to protect my face when I came back to work so Aaron LaVoy sent me his personal face shield after texting him my concern.
I ended up going back to work a little over 3 weeks since the accident and while my jaw was still wired shut. I could not stay home any longer and had to do something.
I was healing the best I could but my left upper jaw was not set right to heal properly. I ended up having to put braces on both my lower and upper teeth and will have them on for up to 2 years. I also needed to go to North Memorial Hospital in St. Paul for reconstructive surgery to fix my upper jaw and it did not heal right. On the day after Thanksgiving, I had my upper jaw get detached from my face and broken into two spots to realign my upper teeth. I ended up at home for 5 more days before I went back to work.
They still are looking at how my braces are lining up my teeth and have a 4th operation option. I hope and pray that I will not need this and it appears at this time, this is the case.
I would like to thank all of you who sent me cards, prayed for me, thought of me, came to help me or my brother, sent me equipment or supplies, the HTA for the network of hoof trimmers and vendors who I call friends, and the Trimmer Assist Program (TAP). The gift of money from TAP went towards my braces as they were not covered on my medical insurance.
This network of trimmers will always hold a special place in my heart. When I first started hoof trimming my first year, the National Conference was held in MN about 2 hours away from my house. I did not think I needed to go and I did not. After that conference, I think I only missed two in 20 years. I know that if I did not have this network of trimmers I call friends; I would not be where I am today. I work with other trimmers at least monthly and hope that we look at each other as friends and nothing else. I have helped other trimmers in need and now received their help and prayers.
I am heading in the right direction for healing and we will not know of long term effects of my accident as it has affected my memory also. There is also some concern of my jaw working right in the long term. I will continue to enjoy each day. Please put God and Family above work as you will never know when it may be your last day of trimming. I was close but not done yet.