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Veins Bleed and Arteries Spurt
FIRST TIME I LEARNED THIS LESSON
Two days before 5th grade was to start, I found myself playing at the Greens’ home, just two doors down from our house on Jessica Drive in Highland Park, California. I was chasing 10-year-old Kelly Green in anger and she ran into her house and slammed the front door shut, hoping to keep me out and escape my retaliation. I tried to come to a screeching halt but instead tripped over the welcome mat and this is where everything slowed down to slooooow motion as my right arm went through a lower French door window pane and shattered the glass on the way in. I instinctively jerked my arm back out and the remaining sharp edges shredded my arm open. In horror, I saw the inside of my arm as everything had been cut at least twice. This included nerves, tendons and an artery and with each accelerating beat of my heart, the end of the artery closest to the pumping muscle would spurt blood upwards. I was terrified as I screamed and danced around heading for my home. I nearly died that day, but fast action by my Mom & Dad found me arriving quickly at the emergency room where they immediately took me into surgery to repair my arm. After 4 hours of surgery and over 375 stitches, followed by over a year of rehab, I was left with an almost as good as new arm, lots of scars, and the ability to enjoy normal life. The surgeon shared with my parents afterwards that he was certain going into the operating room that he would have little success with saving my arm, but that he vowed to do his best. He told them about the divine feeling he felt as the operation continued and the confidence he gained as he found himself successfully able to join together all of the damaged components. He later shared this same experience with me and he told me that he had been divinely led to do his part, but that the long rehab was going to be up to me if I wanted to regain the full use of my hand and arm. I took this challenge to heart and it took well over a year, but all of the painful rehab was worth it.
SECOND TIME AROUND
Set the calendar ahead just 4 months shy of 4 decades later and I found myself on a high adventure Boy Scout campout and outing, leading 18 people from ages 11 to 51 on a high adventure rappelling outing to the Pink Lime Pits (which is located about 10 miles to the southwest of the Nutty Putty Cave www.NuttyPuttyCave.com). I was the climbing instructor and this event was under my direction. As the lead instructor, I was standing on top of this unique formation that is an 80 ft deep cavern with a large opening to the southwest and a 50% roof that has three 3 ft wide holes on the ceiling. When you look up from the bottom of the cavern, the holes look like you are inside a bowling ball looking up at the three finger holes. My 19-yr-old son, Adam, was already at the bottom running the belay and instructing the scouts on the ascending, while I was on top ensuring that the rappellers were outfitted and secure before making their drops.
Standing near the middle eastern bowling ball hole, suddenly there was a loud rushing noise coming up out of the hole. It sounded like rumbling thunder and it exploded upward and skyward. I instinctively turned and started to flee. In my panic, I stumbled over the jagged rocks and fell upon the scrub oak and the rocks, hitting my left shoulder, my head and heavily scraping my right arm. As I fell, time once again sloooowed down so that I could fully experience the impact. Luckily I was wearing a helmet as I hit or I would have been knocked unconscious. I felt lots of pain as I lay there in the scrub brush trying to get my wits about me, when suddenly I watched a large spurt of blood fly through the air across my chest and splatter on the boulder on the other side of my body. And then it happened again. My mind immediately flashed back 40 years to the prior incident and I knew this seemingly minor fall was really quite serious. How? Veins bleed and arteries spurt.
I immediately grabbed the spot just above my forearm right where your arm bends with my fingerless gloved left hand and I was not letting go. “Apply pressure to spurting wounds and apply a tourniquet if needed” were the words ingrained in me by my good friend, Gordon Lassen, during the many first aid merit badge trainings I had attended with my Boy Scouts. So apply pressure I did! Laying there I looked over to Brent Lambert, my fellow Scout leader, who was about 20 feet away and I calmly, but firmly said, “Brent, I need you to come here now, It is important!” Important? This was critical but I did not want to alarm those around me. Why? Veins bleed and arteries spurt.
Still grasping my arm, I found myself trying to get up out of the jagged rocks and scrub oak. With the help of those nearby, I stood and walked away from the fall area. Surprisingly, I was not queasy nor did I feel like I was going to pass out. I was clear thinking and able to make what I thought were very clear decisions, yet the adrenalin was pumping throughout my body. I knew that arteries spurt because of their high pressure as they carry blood from the heart. I knew that I witnessed two spurts before applying pressure. I knew that the puncture was from the scrub oak that must have acted like a sharply pointed pencil that hit just the right spot. I also knew that arteries generally don’t heal themselves.
Knowing that I needed immediate medical attention and realizing that I was about an hour from anybody who could help, I saw that blood was not coming through my tightly grasped fingers. And I also knew that I still had a son in the bottom of a pit, another son ascending up a rope, and a third Scout descending as the accident occurred, with a dozen more who were awaiting their chance to suspend their life upon a rope under my guidance.
“My car keys,” I said to the Assistant Scoutmaster, “Shawn, stick your hand in my pocket and get my car keys to give to Adam... Don’t worry, I’ll still respect you in the morning.” Shawn asked which pocket and then got the car key so that Adam would not be stuck in the West Dessert with no way to get the vehicle home. This showed clarity on my part and the fact that I still had my sense of humor. Now, typically I would have just passed out and let those around me deal with the injury. But this time I was clear thinking, coherent, and the adrenalin was helping me stay completely on top of my game.
“Let’s see the wound,” said Brent Lambert. This sentiment was also encouraged by Shawn Amos and the other leaders, but I refused to let go and look at the wound. Why? Because veins bleed and arteries spurt.
Looking skyward I requested that the brethren give me a priesthood blessing, to which they did. By way of the blessing of faith, those around me were able to draw upon the powers of heaven to help me receive great blessings of healing and protection. At that point, about 15 minutes had passed and I told both Brent and Shawn that I wanted to look at the wound. The three of us walked around Shawn's massive white 4x4 truck so that the majority of the group was sheltered from what was happening. I did not want to remove my glove-clad hand from my arm and it took me about 45 seconds to work up the courage to remove my grasp. As I did, I fully expected to watch my blood spurt once again. To our amazement, the blood did not spurt. How could that be???
We could see the scrub oak scrapes up my arm to the final little puncture would. There was no bruising around the wound and no signs that my arm was filling internally with blood from the puncture.
This led me to wonder if all I had been taught was wrong. Was there something else in my arm that could be punctured and spurt? Could a vein spurt? How could this be healed? How could an artery heal itself? Now I was confused and I said, “Sean, call the Bishop and get Gordon Lassen’s phone number.” We called Bishop Mark Marshall and asked him to find Gordon’s number and then asked if it would be possible to talk with his wife, Chris, while he went to get the number. Chris has been a nurse for a many years and so I related what happened. There seemed to be a contradiction between the spurt and the healing, but she ran down the list of what evidences we needed to look for. This included my tetanus shot history and our looking for internal bleeding. We never did call Gordon as we were satisfied after talking with Chris that I would be okay. I was now inclined to NOT leave the rappelling event, but first I would need some immediate first aid attention. Brent pulled out his handy dandy little first aid kit and we used most of it to clean the wound and wrap it tightly with gauze.
With growing thanks and confidence I knew that I had been divinely healed and I became determined that the rapelling event would continue.
I must say that it was a tough decision being the leader and faced with these dramatic events. So much work goes into the preparation, the setup, and the implementation in order to bring the event to pass. I also was very thankful that I was the one with the injury and not anybody else. I don’t think I could have endured the guilt had it been somebody else. And in reality, the accident was so simple, the injury so dramatic, and the healing so pure.
The roaring thunder was a large bird that came from within the cavern and it had to raise up through the 5 ft deep, 3 ft wide hole in the ceiling. The wingspan was much larger than the hole, so the bent wing, quick flap technique caused the roaring sound. As Nick and Aaron were on rope descending, a large bird was disturbed from his nest and he was determined to flee from their presence. All I saw was the large black flutter and explosion that sounded like loud thunder coming out of the hole combined with the load roar of the flapping wings. It was awesome, loud and very scary as I was only a few feet away from his escape up and out of the hole to safety.
Later that evening, I was still wearing my blood-stained uniform as I went to our local Macey’s with my son, Aaron. I failed to remember that everybody goes to Macey’s on Saturday night in preparation for Sunday. As we were back by the meat coolers, we came around the corner and bumped into who else but Gordon Lassen! He inquired with great interest about the blood on my shirt and I asked him how I could get spurting and self healing. He confirmed that if I saw spurting, then I had punctured an artery. Why? Because veins bleed and arteries spurt. So how was my injury healed? Well, a lot was due to prior repeated trainings from him that had me immediately applying and maintaining pressure to the wound. This fast action allowed for divine intervention to take care of the rest of the job and cover what we as mere mortals are incapable of covering. By all rights, I am thankful to be here today. I am thankful to have the use of my arm. I am thankful to have the chance to fight the resulting pain from the injuries and the massive throbbing of my headache, and to be able to compose these words. I am also very thankful to have been able to complete the adventure that we had long been looking forward to bringing to fruition. The best news is that my injuries will heal long before the memories of this weekend fade.
Count Your Blessings, Give Your Loved Ones A Hug, and Make It A Great Day!
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - www.TheHomeInspector.com - Michael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc.