While I am still able, I want to send a message to those I leave behind. No matter what happens in your life, never give up, never admit defeat, keep up the good fight, because life is the best gift you will ever receive. Love it, hang on to it and cherish it.
When I was 23 years old in June 1964, I had a car wreck and ended up with a compression fracture of my spine at T-12 and L-1.
Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. It is generally considered not to have a literal equivalent in English.
I am happy and proud to be 97% Finnish.
I spent three months in the Sioux Valley Hospital on a Stryker frame. My right leg did not move for over 2 months. Thankfully Physical Therapy workers continued to work with me in spite of my resistance and wanting to quit. They prodded me on forward when I didn’t have the courage to do it myself.
The Stryker Frame was designed so the patient could be turned every four hours.
Dr. Robert Van Demark took bone from my hips and fused it into my lower back a month before I was released from the hospital. I wore a full body cast for eight months. It went from my hips to the armpits. I was afraid it might start getting a little bit nasty underneath so I devised a way to use two coat hangers, I would slide them up inside of the cast, then hook a clean t-shirt on and pull it down into the cast. I had lost considerable weight by that time. I never had any problems developing insects or worms underneath that plaster shell.
I got out of the Sioux Valley Hospital in October and then spent a year with the Wayrynens recuperating. I tried selling insurance and a few other jobs before I went back on Highway Construction and started bouncing around in a truck again.
I got married to Rose Marie in 1970. One simple ‘I do’ turned me into a husband, father of four daughters, and grandfather to a newborn baby boy. I was driving a truck in Arizona in 1970. One night driving with the window open, cool air on my arm felt like needles hitting it. It wasn’t long after that I could not tell hot from cold with my left hand. Paralysis started on my left side at that time. By 1985 I was completely numb on my left side from my waistline to the top of my head. A straight line just like the Joker has. I was not diagnosed with Syringomyelia until 1985. I was going to the Veterans’ Hospital in Sioux Falls. The neurology doctor had no idea what was wrong with me. He felt sure it was some type of stroke.
The Lord does work in mysterious ways, a young lady intern who had just learned about SM was in his office that day. She told the doctor she thought I may have Syringomyelia, ‘he had never heard of it.’ The next week I was in the VA Hospital in Minneapolis having a drainpipe put in my spinal cord. At that time when I sneezed or coughed it shot pain to the top of my head, so I would almost pass out. The left side of my tongue was even numb, so I was biting my tongue when I ate. They put a small drain in my spinal cord that moved the fluid to the outside of the cord but still in the spinal column. I am very thankful the pain from sneezing and coughing disappeared after the shunt was put in and also, I quit biting my tongue. If that young lady had not been in the office that day I no doubt would have gone to be with the Lord many years ago.
In 1985 after the first surgery on my back, I started having problems with my left shoulder. The head of the humerus bone dissolved between the months of October and November of 1985. One month the bone was solid, the next month it was gone. I have lived since 1985 with no joint on my left shoulder. I continued to use it as much as I could, even carrying firewood into the house with it without having the arm connected to the socket. The neurology Specialists told me shortly after the shoulder went bad it could not be replaced because they were sure it would never heal right. So, I told them I think we better just leave it alone. Pain has always ridden shotgun with me.
In 2000 when I had cervical spine surgery on my neck. My whiskers grew to the point they became intolerable, so I just let them grow. I had to wear a stiff neck collar for 7 months. They cut a vertebra in half and took it out. Then used a Roto-Rooter tool to clean around the spinal cord. After they got done with that, they used bone bank parts to hold it all in place.
They put a steel plate on the front of my neck to hold my head-on. It has six screws in it. I got sent home three days after that surgery. My throat was still raw from the breathing tube I drank water until I washed all the sodium out of my system. I ended up in the hospital again having seizures from the low sodium level. A few years later I had another low sodium level that put me in intensive care. I had to go to a nursing home and learn to walk again after that episode.
My wife passed away in 2019. so I lived at home alone in my apartment for 2 years. Another shunt was put in a couple years ago, it was supposed to be as an outpatient. They were going to drill a hole and put another drain tube in my cervical spine. Evidently the hole got drilled too deep or something. I had to lay flat on my back for 2 days and then went back to a nursing home for another month’s stay.
It does appear like my whole life has been spent in physical therapy departments. This year not too long before Christmas I fell and broke some ribs on my left side which put me in the hospital for 10 days. I finally decided I cannot take care of myself, so now I reside at the Hendricks Nursing Home in Hendricks Minnesota. The people here are great, we should all thank the Lord for young people willing to do these jobs.
I can still walk a little with a walker. But the Lord is right there holding me up all the while. The neurology doctors can find no reason for me to still be walking, I will try to continue confusing them by walking from my room to the dining hall.
These doctors have never heard of Sisu!
God bless all of my Facebook and Blogging friends.
Love, Your old Finnish friend.