The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Treasure In The Heartland

db Conard, The Quill

While vacationing in northern Minnesota, I was loading my boat when my world almost ended. I had been at the dock helping a friend when I started to experience strange sensations the like of which I had never known before. The first thought was, "Oh! Oh! What's this?" And the second, "Maybe if I ignore it, it will go away"; but finally I realized, "This is serious!"

My friend Moose was concerned about how I was looking, and the drama continued to evolve. Sitting down didn't help and I was getting worse when I told Moose, "I think there might be a problem."

I really can't quite describe my relief when at that exact moment, one of the very best emergency room doctors that anyone could ask for, paddled up right beside me at his landing.

It took just a minute before Dr. Steve was looking for a phone for an ambulance as I was still trying not to believe that this was a serious thing happening to me. I was trying to help him, Dr. Steve told me I was "hard headed" and "to sit and be still!"

Wednesday morning was now out of my control, and my friends had taken charge. It was decided that it would be quicker to let Moose drive me then to call for an ambulance. I was loaded into his truck and Dr. Steve was headed for a phone.

The roads were almost empty except for one slow car that Moose almost passed on the right. Moose was smooth, steady, and focused and we could not have arrived any faster than we did. Dr. Steve had called and alerted the emergency staff at the hospital and they were waiting and didn't miss a beat as they went to work on me.

There was talk about a helicopter and that really hit home to me in that I had spent years as a MEDEVAC pilot and was now watching from the inside out in what I had come to know so well from the outside in.

I was disappointed when due to weather, it was decided to send me by ground. After less than an hour of tests and needles in the Ely Emergency Room I was strapped into a gurney, lifted into an ambulance, and sent on my way south to a major medical center in Duluth, MN.

While I was riding south, my friends back at the lake were busy taking care of the details.

How much better does it get then when your doctor, after taking care of you, gathers up your dog and takes a boat ride of several miles to drop him off at home and alert your family.

Then, my doctor picked up a friend from another island to have him take care of my boat. A doctor who makes house calls has nothing on Dr. Steve.

Two hours of looking at a big smiley face over the rear access doors of the emergency vehicle, seemed to fly by. The ambulance crew made the difference, not only by the professional manner in which they did their jobs, but also in the fun and caring ways they went about their work.

Arriving at the hospital is kind of a blur to me. They were switching beds, changing clothes, new needles, and lots of signing. Then after just a few days, it was over. My son arrived the day before, and drove me home the scenic way along the shore of Lake Superior as I was thinking how lucky I was.

My system had jumped the track because of a combination of things, but mostly medication issues which thankfully, all were correctable.

I had been first saved, then made better. I had been caught as I fell, then lifted up. In many ways this whole journey has been spiritual to me. Perhaps, it is a feeling that we might all have when we get a serious look at what we think might be our last moment, and then find we still have a lifetime to go.

The E.R. in Ely, the ambulance crew, St Mary's Hospital, Duluth, their three different shifts of nurses, technicians, attendants, specialists, and many unseen others, impressed me as not only professionals, but also very caring people. They had all literally touched my life.

I was so fortunate to have had what I can only think of as a perfect flight. Every aspect of my journey from the boat dock to my ride home, had gone without a hitch, and I have a chance to live out my life a little longer.

Treasure In the Heartland is personal this week. In addition to the obvious, I am particularly thankful for my family and genuine friends who showed that they care.