On Wednesday, June 10th, my husband was out mowing our yard with our oldest (almost 15) son, Dustin. As hubby was mowing around our raised garden beds, he was pulling the mower backwards from in between them. He had done this countless times through the years and never thought anything about it. This time, however, disaster struck. He misjudged his distance, and tripped over one of the beds, causing him to fall down. When he fell, the mower came up on top of his foot. Our mowers are 30+ years old, and do not have the safety lever that shuts off the mower when released. So, when he fell, it didn’t shut off. When it came up on top of his foot, it essentially skinned it. Thankfully, Russell had his wits about him during this, and was able to use his other leg to kick the mower off, as it was trying to come up onto his leg. Dustin saw it happen, and thankfully was able to run over and shut the mower off and come get help. As a mother, when your child runs to get you, calling for you, you KNOW if it is serious just by the tone of their voice. When I heard him calling, my heart dropped. I could hear the fear and concern in his voice. I knew, without him having to tell me, that it was bad. I grabbed my cell phone and was dialing 911 as I ran out of the front door. Russell had hobbled around to the front of the house to the porch as I was getting out there (I was getting dressed when Dustin came in, so it took me a few seconds). He immediately dropped onto the porch, and was starting to get really pale.
Fire Rescue was at my house, literally, within 90 second of my dialing 911. This is one of the advantages of living within 2 blocks of the fire station! The ambulance came within 3 minutes of my call. They saw that Russell was going into shock, and immediately started an I.V. with pain medication. Next came the moment of truth. They cut off his boot. I will not lie, I was scared to death that we were going to find that his foot was shredded to ribbons. I was terrified. I was so relieved to see that the whole foot had not been damaged, but rather the big toe and part of the top of his foot and some of the side. The EMT said that if it were not for the steel toe boots, he would have lost his entire foot, no doubt. They loaded him into the ambulance once stabilized, and headed to the hospital, sirens and lights blazing. After gathering the boys, we headed out as well, staying within the speed limit for safety, even though I wanted to fly to the hospital. My dad met us there within a few minutes for support for me and the boys. He stayed with us for a few hours, until they got ready to take Russell to surgery, then he had to get home to tend to some things. They took Russell to surgery to clean his wounds (the doctor said they used a surgical power washer tool because of how extensive it was!) and removed half of his big toe, to the first joint under the toenail area. They also attached a wound vac to it, to suction out the bad stuff and prepare it for skin graft surgery, which was to come a week later. Due to the nature of the injury and the risk of infection, they kept Russell in the hospital hooked up to some powerful pain medication and powerful antibiotics. We left him there with heavy hearts, concerned and worried for all he was going through. Even with all of the pain medications, he was still in constant pain, and this just broke our hearts 🙁
Our youngest son is autistic, and has a really hard time dealing with change, so this was a trying time for him. Due to this, we were not able to stay at the hospital for as long as we wanted each day. I absolutely hated leaving my husband there alone, day after day, and only being able to stay for a couple of hours. Russell understood this better than anyone, though, and assured me it would be alright. We had some issues with quality of care for a few days following his admission, but a talk with the nursing manager fixed that. Russell was not able to be up and around by himself at all while in the hospital, and always needed either myself or a nurse to get him to the bathroom and back. This was hard for him, because he is a very independent person. He had to learn to lean on others, and this humbled him and myself. After he had been in the hospital for 5 days, the plastic surgeon came in on the 6th day and checked his foot to see if it was ready for a skin graft. Another moment of truth. If the skin graft wasn’t going to be possible, then another surgery for further amputation would be imminent. Praise be to God, when Dr. Camp took the bandages and vac off, the foot was more than ready to schedule the skin graft surgery!! This was on a Monday, and the surgery was scheduled for that Wednesday, on day 8 of his hospital stay. Wednesday came, and while I was getting Russell prepared for surgery (cleaned up, clothes off, etc.) Dustin came in the room to get me. Austin was having a meltdown in the waiting room. This was definitely NOT what I needed! I ran down there to find my mother-in-law standing outside the door (waiting room was small and enclosed) assuring a doctor that I was coming. Poor Austin 🙁 He had reached his threshold, and just couldn’t keep it together any longer. He had been trying so hard to keep it together, and his behavior clinician had been helping a LOT! But we knew it was going to happen, we just didn’t know when. He destroyed the waiting room, papers everywhere, Styrofoam cups everywhere. He hit me a few times, which he has never done. I will admit, I was terrified! What if I couldn’t calm him down? Russell usually handled these situations, because of Austin’s size and strength. After about 10 minutes, I finally calmed him down, and we were able to go back to Russell’s room, where Russell lay freaking out over the situation.
After assuring him that all was well in Austin Land, we had to bid him goodby as he went into surgery. We waited, for what seemed like hours, but was actually about an hour, for Dr. Camp to come and tell us how it went. She was very confident that he surgery went exceptionally well and felt that there would be no problems with the graft “taking.” We waited another 45 minutes while Russell was in recovery before we could see him. This was torture! We just wanted to see him and see with our own eyes that he was alright. After he got settled in his room again, we were able to see him. He was really groggy, and with Austin’s meltdown, we didn’t dare stay for too long. As it was, we didn’t leave the hospital until around 7p that day, after having arrived around 12:30p. We were all exhausted. We said our goodbyes and went home and dropped into bed exhausted.
Every day, we went back to the hospital and spent time with Russell. Finally, on Monday, day 13 of his stay, Dr. Camp came in and took the bandages and vac off again, and said that it was looking great and that he could come home!!! PRAISE GOD!!! So after a few snafu’s, like the prescriptions being written with the wrong name, we finally got sprung around 1p! WOOT!!! It has been tiring, because Russell still can’t get around by himself. He has crutches, but his foot is non-weight bearing. No pressure at all, because even a little can make that skin graft lift. But it is healing well, and we are thankful for that. He will eventually have full use, it will just take a while and some therapy.
***UPDATE- Russell is now able to put pressure on his heal as of July 21st, but has to do only heel pressure for six weeks.
The reason for this post is to try to educate you a bit on the safety of mowing. Kind of a what not to do sort of thing. Fortunately, Russell had on the steel toe boots, but not everyone does this. Too often we see people wearing flip flops, or even mowing barefoot. We see small children mowing, or adults using a riding mower with small children on their lap. There are just so many things that we do, and we don’t realize the dangers. We want to raise awareness and try to help prevent unnecessary injuries. Were Russell’s injuries preventable? 100% yes! He was being partially safe by wearing the boots, but he also was not being safe, in that he was walking backwards with the mower and also didn’t have the proper safety measures on the mower itself.
First and foremost, make sure your mower has a safety lever. We are talking about one that once released, will shut the mower off. Had we had this, the injury would have been minor or non-existent.
Next, make sure that your mower has a guard on the backside, to prevent your foot from going under the mower.
If you have garden beds like these, or any garden beds, we recommend using a weed eater in between, or changing the layout to eliminate “paths” between them. Don’t mind the weeds in the beds, as we have not had time to take proper care of them over this summer 🙁
When mowing, wear steel toe boots. Please do NOT wear flip flops, sandals, go barefoot, etc. Seriously, we cannot stress this enough!
Make sure all debris is picked up out of the yard BEFORE the mower is even turned on. Go around with a bucket or a box (kiddos can help with this BEFORE mowing) and pick up all rocks and branches, trash, etc, out of the yard. This will prevent flying objects hitting someone or damaging the house or mower.
Adults, when using a riding mower, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT let your kids/grandkids/any children, sit on your lap while mowing. This is dangerous. Extremely dangerous! They could fall off and get caught under the mower, resulting in serious injury and/or death.
When mowing, NEVER EVER, walk backwards with the mower! This is dangerous and can result in serious injury!!!
When mowing, your children should be inside the house and away from the yard. This will prevent accidents and injuries. If your child is outside in the yard while you are mowing, your mind will not be fully on mowing, and this could result in injury to yourself. Also, if your child is outside and you are mowing, your child could be in your blind spot or behind you, etc, and you could potentially back over said child or hit child with flying object, resulting in injury or death.
Finally, when mowing, wear goggles, or sunglasses to prevent things from flying into your eyes. And wear long pants instead of shorts.
We really hope that you find this post useful and that you will utilize any of these tips. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me.
"Time spent with cats is never wasted." ~ Sigmund Freud