GUEST BLOGGER: HUBBY! Notes not from a wheelchair…

I read Hubby all of your well wishes!

Your support and kind words were so wonderful, that Hubby felt the desire to speak to you all.

So, without any more fanfare, here is Hubby’s blog #2.



–From the files of Trauma Rancho, Nazi Hunter

First off, I’d like to offer heartfelt thanks to all of the H&M community for your get-well wishes! Your support is what keeps Dawn motivated to do what she does, day in and out.

So, for those of you who don’t know, I broke my neck. A couple times a year, I get together with a group of guys in Moab, Utah ostensibly for mountain biking, but with a considerable amount of whiskey, cigars, and general tomfoolery thrown in for good measure. This trip was going to be especially good, since my best friend Eric, the Navy doctor, had just returned from Afghanistan. On day 3 of the trip, we were blasting down a trail called Hazzard County and I fell and hit hard. I know I was knocked out for at least a couple of minutes, and came to with my friends leaning over me. It was like a scene in a movie – I could see things, but there was no sound, and everything was happening very slowly.

Friends: ” – – – – – – – ” (Lips moving, silence)

Me: “….uh, wha…?”

Eric: “- – – – – – – – fingers am I holding up?”

Me: “….uh… twelve?”


Somehow, there just happened to be a couple of elk hunters passing by in their truck just at that moment, and Eric flagged them down and got them to agree to take me to the hospital. Unbeknownst to me, while I was bouncing down the mountain with the hunters, Eric rode ahead to tell the rest of the group what had happened and then RODE HIS BIKE ALL THE WAY TO MOAB HOSPITAL. Had to be at least 20 miles, and he got there about 10 minutes after me. They slapped a cervical collar on me (just as a precaution) and sent me in for a CT scan, fully expecting to find nothing but a concussion. I was feeling a little more like myself, and we joked around in the ER, calling in an order for some top-shelf bourbon with the guys who were just finishing the ride for the evening’s fun. Then the CT results came back, and everything changed. Eric walked into the room, looking genuinely worried.


Eric: “Dude, you broke your neck.”


Me: *gulp* “What does that mean?”


Eric: “It means we need to get you to Salt Lake for surgery right now.”


Me: “OK, you’re the boss.”



Since a preponderance of H&M readers are women, I now offer a brief insight into the male psyche. We spend years and fortunes learning and training for our jobs. The diplomas and certifications on our walls and letters after our names announce to the world our competence and expertise in our chosen fields. To the rest of the world, we appear supremely capable, but to ourselves, we are deathly afraid of the responsibility that we take upon ourselves, always afraid of making the wrong decision and being exposed for the fraud that we fear that we are. The ability to sack up and make decisions in the face of that fear is what separates men from boys. As an engineer and a Naval Officer, I have had a tremendous amount of trust handed to me just by virtue of the training I’ve had, and now I was placing an even greater burden on my best friend. The thing is, for me it was a no-brainer – of course I trust him, he’s a spine surgeon for pete’s sake!


The next few days are a drug-addled blur of a medevac airlift, CTs, MRIs, and lots of pain. They did tell me that I had the added bonus of two broken ribs. Since I came in the the hospital as a trauma patient, they assigned a code name to me: I was known as Trauma Rancho! For the next couple of days, people would ask me what my real name was, and I’d tell them I preferred Trauma Rancho. Hospital people as a rule don’t have much of a sense of humor. They also don’t seem to understand that for a body to mend, it needs sleep. Every hour throughout the night I would be awakened by someone new.


Hospital person: “Mr. Rancho, how are you doing?”


Me: “I was doing great, right up until you woke me up.”


HP: “Any history of toenail fungus in your family?”


Me: “What?!? What does that have to do with anything?”


HP: “Well, we need to know about this. When my shift ends at 2am, there will be someone else to come by and ask you the same stuff.”


Poor Dawn, trying to sleep on the hide-a-bed next to me, woke up every time I did (and often, to be sure, when I did not) and they weren’t giving her any drugs.


I only vaguely remember going into surgery, being a little worried but having Dawn at my side as they wheeled me away. Waking up was a interesting experience — I opened my eyes and found myself in a large room with lots of beds and people milling about. Nothing made sense — and then I realized I was being held by Nazis for medical experimentation! I was struggling to get out of the bed when the lead torturer came up and tried to calm me down.




Me: “….ehhh…get away from me you damn dirty Nazi…”


Nurse: “KLEEBRA?”


Me: (realizing how ridiculous this is) “Wait a minute, where am I?”


Once they got me back to my room I asked Dawn if there was some sort of CIA/Nazi experimentation room at the hospital. She casually said no, as if she expected a question like that from me.


A couple more days of rest and we were headed back to California. Flying with a neck brace is a serious drag, but it does get you to the head of the line. Dawn was incredibly tough and helpful. I thought she was going to kill the wheelchair-pusher when I was bashed into the side of the jetway. By the time we made it home, we were both exhausted. My dog was the first on the scene to greet me.




Me: “I’ll be OK. Just a little beat up.”




The next afternoon, I got a call from my older daughter: “Dad, Dawn wants to know if you can feed the animals.”


What, doesn’t she know I’m an invalid? I might fall and break something… I might get hay in my surgery wound… I might pass out on the way to the barn… Ugh. Stop being such a baby, Trauma Rancho, it’s not like it’s that hard. “OK, sure.”


I stepped out of the house and into a glorious California autumn afternoon. Golden sunlight angled across the yard, recent rain had started some green shoots poking up through the brown summer grass, dragonflies were zipping about, and the air was rich and fragrant. I stopped and wondered if it had always been this beautiful. Norma, ever the impatient, brayed at me to get in gear.


I hobbled down to the barn where Dame Tess was waiting for me, as if to ask why I hadn’t come to see her before then. I think she could tell that something wasn’t right by the time she could smell me — she sniffed my hair to make sure I was going to be OK. I assured her that I’ll live, stroked her neck for a while and then went off to feed the malcontents (aka Wrigley, Finn, and BG).


Nothing like a brush with death to cause you to appreciate the things that you have. When I think about it, I am rich, really. I have a loving wife, two lovely and smart daughters, friends that would do anything for me (and vice versa), a dog who thinks I am the most amazing person in the world, horses, cats, dogs and a donkey, and a beautiful spot in which to enjoy them. And to top it all off, I remain (relatively) healthy.
It’s good to be alive.




HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!


It’s good to be alive.


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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

17 comments have been posted...

  1. Janie

    Awesome entry! Love this — you had me laughing out loud. SOOOOO thankful you are OK, and so thankful for all the goodness and good people around you!

  2. Hali

    I am so glad you are home where you belong and feeling a little better. Being in that beautiful place will help you heal quicker.

  3. sharon

    Hey there Mr. Rancho! When I first started to read, my thoughts were “OMG, How scary!” However, once I got to the toenail fungus question of the day…I just burst out laughing. As I read along, I wondered if Dawn had actually written this because your style is very close but then I realized she would have included way more pictures (visual prompts, ya know?). It was humbling to read at the end when you wrote about how much you appreciated the people and things that are in your life.

    Wishing you a speedy, uneventful recovery with your family by your side.

  4. Thorny Merkin

    Rancho. What a nickname. Can’t wait for April. Maybe we will get you training wheels. Hope you’re feeling better.

  5. R.M

    Thank you for sharing your ordeal with us; life is good and glad you’re still with us! Get better soon.


  6. Barbara

    Wishing you the best recovery.

    My hubby doesn’t come out of surgery well either. The minute he opens his eyes he wants to “get up and go” Tubes and IVs be dammed.
    Last time he managed to stand up just to come crashing right back down. They decided to velcro his hands and feet to the table till he came out of it fully. I asked him later where he thought he was going, and he did not remember a thing.

  7. RiderWriter

    I am still getting over the odds that you, Mr. Rancho, just happened to be biking with a SPINAL SURGEON when this accident happened. Your number was definitely not up, Dude! :D Reminds me of our neighbor, an extremely healthy and fit individual in his 40s who was out for his daily run one day. I don’t know the exact specifics but he suddenly had what I’d call a “brain attack” and fell to the ground, not breathing, heart stopped. Who do you suppose was the first person who drove by? An off-duty paramedic. Successful CPR was administered, and after hospital/much testing/etc. guy is just fine and back running. The whole thing was bizarre.

    Anyway, this was very enjoyable reading and feel free to drop in any time (though we’re not booting you, Dawn!). Glad you are on the mend and feeling thankful!

    P.S. I hear you about hospital personnel waking you up every hour. Drove me ba-na-nas when I was there having my kids. Don’t they realize that people need their sleep to HEAL???

    P.P.S. Please promote the fact that you were wearing a helmet when this happened and you would undoubtedly be even worse off otherwise!

  8. rose

    I’m so glad our patient is feeling better. Hmmm, I wonder how long Dawn can stretch out this “feeding the animals” gig.
    I think a blog about a Navy guy married to a landlubber could be fun.

  9. Mary Ann Martineau

    I, for one, REALLY appreciate the male perspective…hoping your healing is uneventful and quick…

  10. KarenTX

    If you’re well enough to make jokes, you’re on the road to recovery for sure! Keep on healing!

  11. D'Arcy Allison-Teasley

    Loved hearing the whole story “from the horse’s mouth”! With that attitude and gratitude, Rancho’s healing will be fast and furious I expect. The Hubby sense of humor is remarkably similar to the Dawn sense of humor, it sounds as though they were meant to share life (and its challenges) together… I look forward to this blog every day and deeply appreciate the time and effort put in to make it happen. Pretty sure Dawn deserves a medal on many counts… including sharing the stage. Hope to hear more from Rancho again sometime, too.

  12. dawndi Post author

    Oy. You got that right, sista. Hubby’s head is becoming more swollen by the moment… Sheesh. We’ve created a monster. ;)

  13. Ann E.

    Too funny about the recovery room episode! Back when I was in high school (Abe Lincoln was a classmate), I had to have a pneumoencephalogram because I was having bad headaches. “A lot of people pass out from the pain, so we’re going to put you out before we start,” they cheerily informed me. Sounded good to me.

    Until I woke up, unable to move, and all I could see was a white tile wall with gas jets sticking out of it. And all I could hear was a woman moaning about how she loved her husband, and where was he?

    “OMG!”, I thought. “I’m in Auschwitz!. They’re going to GAS us all!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    (Please note – I don’t think there’s anything at all funny about what happened during WWII. What’s funny is that a teenage from NH and an ex-Navy officer would have similar thoughts post-anesthesia.)

  14. sue tyrkus

    So glad to hear you’re on the mend. Funny how a brush with your own mortality brings all the things that are the most important into clearer focus. I’ve been in your shoes EXACTLY, and to add insult to injury I’m an athletic therapist and my own worst patient. Really important to keep your shoulder girdles and your neck muscles VERY strong after this kind of injury, to provide muscular joint stabilization to your neck. Poor neck has lots of little muscles to hold up a big, awkward weight on the top of it. As long as your head doesn’t get too big to go through the doorways from all the “reader love” yer gonna be getting, you should be okay! Cheers!

  15. stephanie

    great glad you are doing soooo much better. this is comming from bremerton, wa. retired navy family.

  16. Deborah Slagle

    I think YOUR Hubby was channeling MY Hubby in recovery!!!
    It gets so bad that the nurses call ME in to deal with him!!
    After his second skull surgery in the corse of a few months at the same hospital for the same issue (long story!!) a recovery nurse asked him “So, how do you feel?” He smarts back an answer not proper to type here, and a head immediately pops up over a computer on the other side of the room- (sweetly saying) “Is that Mr. Slagle?” then (NOT so sweetly) “GET HIS WIFE.”
    = ]
    SO glad he is getting better!
    And VERY glad he had such good friends with him that day!

  17. Kitty Bo

    Mr. Rancho needs his own blog. This was delightful. I love the male perspective here. Glad your on the mend, Mr. Rancho.

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