There are life experiences that are unusual, rare, and unique! We read what happened to others and wonder. Now that this has happened to me, I can see why others want to share. The punctuation is excessive in trying to convey maximum impact, only it falls short of what was reality. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. John Betthauser
I began building the bunk house in June of 2010, a very hot day. Josh, my son came up to help. We drank 17 bottles of water in one day. That winter we made some progress, but because progress was slow I recruited Randall Ward to help with things.
February 26th started off like any other winter day and we had no idea of what was about to happen. We had an early start by having breakfast at Beverly’s. Then we went over to Harry’s Building Supplies for the roofing materials. Then we were off to the ranch.
Our main objective was to get the roof on the building so that we could use the shed. My intended purpose was to use the shed as a bunkhouse for guests to stay in. My ranch is a tad bit remote and has a rustic flavor - darn those “city slickers“. Randall and I were busy unloading the stringer boards and insulation, and then the roof was on its way. Randall is a spry individual and was up walking around on the new sub roof in just a few minutes. I was busy working on the roof line from a ladder moving down one side. Then we moved to start the front on the far corner. I’d spent two years in the planning, and had selected and compacted the ground for this building because I wanted the foundation to be solid.
We made good progress and stopped for a snack. Then we went back up to continue. I moved the ladder around to the highest corner, and really had to stretch to continue my work. Randall was doing a great job and the project was taking shape. I was so pleased; I had wanted this for so many years. My dream was coming true!
I was up on the ladder, and prior to climbing up I would set the legs and step on each side making sure it was rock solid. While reaching for the screw gun, I felt the ladder collapse. I was trying to reach for anything to grab hold to, but without any success, I was going over! The ladder was falling over and I was going down. The right front corner of the folded ladder sunk into the dirt, and I was free falling to the ground tipping sideways with the ladder.
I never felt the impact. Time, if it could be stopped, was frozen. I opened my eyes with a milky white film all around me. It seemed as if I were in a bubble in a state of weightlessness. Trying to get my bearings as to where I was, I looked down and saw my buddy Randall. He was very scared and slowly he began to call my name. Soon I noticed that even though Randall was on top of the building I was way above him???? I drifted around in this bubble and was looking down at the twisted ladder. There was somebody in really bad shape on the ground. It was me!!!! How could this be???? I was around 40 feet in the air and slowly ascending upward. What was going on???? Had I died???? Was I looking back at my limp and broken body???? Nothing in this life can prepare you for the feeling that rushes over you!!!!
The ascension stopped, and as fast as a flash of light, I was back in my body!!!! Bam!!!! I could not breathe and the pain was off the charts. I was trying to get up! My right leg had intertwined with the ladder, and I was fighting to get loose to get up. I got up on my knees and after what felt like an eternity I was able to draw my first breath. Oh it felt good, but then I hurt like crazy! I was not in good shape and was panting like a small dog after a hard run. My breathing was so shallow. My skin was hot to the touch. And I felt like I was on fire! The first words out my mouth were RANDELL!!!! Just about that time here he came and helped me up. He asked me if I was ok and my response was NO!!!! I managed to walk just barely to my truck. Randall got me a bottle of water from the ice chest. I could not use my left hand or my left arm. Not much on my left side worked. Oh crap, what did I do now???? Being a rough and tumble kind of a kid all my life, I had my share of bumps and bruises. This one was off the charts - even for me!
About half way to the Tyler Trauma Center, the great medicine began to wear off. The true reality of my injury and pain was “in my face” for real. I thought I was going to pass out. The pain was so intense it made me “lose my cookies”. Even after all that I asked the EMT if I could ask him a very candid question. “Yes,” he replied. “Is this the fastest this dead gum thing will go?” No sooner had I asked this and the lights were on and the sirens were blaring. The “big rig” was on its way. The closer we got to Tyler the more vocal that I became. The meds were wearing off. The driver knew that as soon as we got to the hospital I could receive another dose of meds from the ER team to ease the pain.
The hospital was in the process of upgrading their entrance. There were back hoes and piles of dirt all around. The flag man was trying to wave us off, but the drivers response was “200 feet to go and hang on!” Yep! Nothing like a little four wheeling in the driveway! Once the vehicle was parked the back doors flew open. The wheels under me were rolling fast. I was ambushed by a floor of doctors and staff that had the speed of a NASCAR pit crew! Within moments I was back in a semi coherent mode and the pain was drifting away.
Soon the wheels were turning again as I went down for a second MRI of the day. Then I went back up to the ER for all the blood work. Once a person has a major accident, the body releases all kinds of things into the blood stream and alarms the rest of the body that there are things gone wrong. In this case, very wrong! I remember the first real briefing that I got from the doctor. They wanted to know who they needed to contact in case of an emergency because things were not looking too good. I had a concussion that made me lose my sight in my left eye for half a day. I had ten broken ribs all on one side. On my left side I had a punctured lung. I also had a smashed kidney that was almost in two pieces and a cracked bone in my right leg with a huge cut. Other than that I was fine!! Well, not so much. You see, when things out of the normal happen, the body reacts to it. It begins to release a wave of proteins and enzymes. Organs start to shut down and doctors start barking out orders and people were on the move.
The hours go by and I am exhausted. My status was critical, but stable. I was getting cold - my feet were cold, and my fingers and toes were tingly. Shortly I was offered some ice chips. Ice never tasted so good! I was able to dose off for a short while. You don’t really sleep with blood work every ten minutes and blood pressure every five minutes. I was hooked to more electronic devices than known to man!
I heard voices and a pair of doctors(interns) entered the room. They were making their rounds and both were mumbling under their breath. Finally one said, “I heard that this one is not going to make it!” Now that was a kick in the guts! They put their thumb on my face and flicked my eyelid opened and shined a light in my eye. They commented that my pupils were responsive. I then commented “no shit!!” Well I scared those interns. The flashlight went flying. One of the interns flipped over a full tray of instruments and they were gone!!!!
Soon the nurse came in to check on me. “Well hello there!” I asked what time it was and I soon realized that I was on barrowed time. I was in the best hospital in the area and it wasn’t prepared to help me. You see, even with all the advances in modern medicine, healing was still up to my will power and God’s. A more humbling feeling a human cannot even imagine. I quickly thought about the fact that I may never see my family again. I may never see another sunrise or sunset. My life was in the balance once again. How many times does this happen in a lifetime. And how many times is this going to happen in just one day, and why me??
On my third day in the hospital, the nurse comes in and tells me that I will up and walking sometime today. OH MY GOSH I was thinking, just how is that going to happen? At that point, I could not even get out of bed, much less walk. I had my vertebra out of position in my back along with everything else that was smashed, busted, and broken. This was going to be memorable for all parties - to say the least. After a cup of Jello and a few more test, here come the troupes to get me up. I was about as easy as a car with a rusted out frame. All the normal pull points were not an option. They had to teach me to lie on my non broken side and then push up and then get myself vertical in bed. Well, that was chore all by itself! Next, I had to slide off the bed and apply pressure to my feet. OH, MY! Fun it was not. I had five nurses assisting me, and I had to walk to the nurse’s station and back. That was the longest 30 feet in my life.
All my major muscles had been shaken and twisted in the accident. After being in bed, everything had seized up tight. I was hollering at the top of my lungs! The pain was off the charts and all I could focus on was getting back in bed and getting my next pain medication. The nurse had a harness that went around my waist and that was all that they could hold onto. By the time that I got back into bed, I was screaming was loud and a human possibly could. PAIN!!!!! OH, INTENSE,YES, YES, YES !!!! I was soaking wet and my heart rate was at an all time high. Once I got the latest shot of meds I dozed off.
When I woke up, I had to figure out a way to realign my back. Above my head was a triangle with a chain. I asked the nurse to move that forward and block some light. She did. The nursing staff needed a break as much as I did. That was my chance and I went for it. My right arm was still working ok. I tilted the bed forward enough to grab the lift triangle above me. My left arm was not at all good. I had to work my left arm and “crawl” it across my chest and have it join my right hand on the suspended triangle and chain. All I had was one chance. I mustered up enough strength to pull up and lift my body off the bed. My back was cracking and popping. At the same time, I was holding my breath like a plumber pulling on a pipe wrench. Finally I was done and flopped back into my very soaked cloths. Just about the same time, here came three of the nurses sliding into the room checking my vitals. You see, my exercising disconnected all the electrical instruments making them read zero, and they thought I went Code Blue!!!! They changed my bedding and cloths. I slept for 2 hours - the longest sleep in 3 days.
When I awoke, I felt much better. The pain from the messed up back did not help the already complex situation. I was able to eat a good meal ---- the first since the accident. That was a positive step forward. The main doctor came in and explained to me the serious nature of my condition and how lucky I was to still be alive. Now, he had the bedside manner of Chuck Norris, but I got the drift. Later, he came back and explained his frustration that he had more reasons as to why I should be downstairs with a toe tag than why I was still alive. It scared the crap out of him!!!!
I was discharged at day six. I learned how to get in and out of bed, how to get dressed, shower, etc.!!!! All the fun stuff. I could not drive because of the possible impact would kill me. Once I got home, I had to go to my regular doctor for follow-up. That was fun ----NOT!!!! You see, doctors just wig out big time when you get banged up like I did. To say they made a fuss about it would be an understatement. I only had use of my right hand and my left leg. I could not bend or stretch at all. When I had to apply for and receive my handicap parking pass, that was an all time low. I hated the fact that I was not able to do any of the things that I loved to do, such as go to work and restore antique tools. Just walking outside was a major chore.
In the weeks to come I learned to walk without a cane, and then no walking sticks. I was slowly getting my life back on track and finding my new normal was not normal anymore. Every day I was getting stronger and more determined to make this a full recovery - and I have. Many nights I would lie in bed and wonder why my life was spared. Why am I still here and yet others I know have already gone ahead of me?
I may never know, but I enjoy the sunrises and sunsets, the full moons and all the things we mere humans need to live and love in the here and now. Why? Because it is not ours -- not yet. And in some things may not be at all.
Thank you for taking the time to ready my story. If you want to pursue reading about near death experiences (NDEs), two good credible experiences are:
1. A book entitled 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. Don is a minister in Houston who had a horrible car wreck in 1989. He was pronounced dead by EMT's for 90 minutes.
2. A book entitled Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. Todd's young son experienced Heaven and came back talking about meeting his sister that he was never told about.