“Then he climbed out and saw me lying on the combine’s header. My left arm and leg were gone.”
When Dale and I married, we raised 100 dairy cows and farmed 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans. We sold the cows in 1997, and now we farm over 4,500 acres of land. We were invited by our local Farm Bureau to receive an award for being our county’s best farmers.
We missed the ceremony because it was the day I got hurt—and badly.
We’d joined CHM in May 2016 at the Gold level. We added Brother’s Keeper in case something major happened. We were nervous when we joined, but we loved reading members’ testimonies in Heartfelt Magazine. They were encouraging. We learned how well CHM works in 2017, when bills for my colonoscopy were shared.
On the day of the accident my brother-in-law Ron and I went to one field to harvest corn; Dale was working in a different field nearly a mile away. After several hours I needed to use the restroom. It was a long way to the nearest one; I’d have to improvise.
Ron was driving the combine (harvester) down the row. I expected him to go in a direction that would give me enough time to do my business. My dog came with me.
Suddenly, my dog ran past me—I realized the combine was coming back sooner than I’d expected. My instincts took over, and I chased after my dog because I didn’t want him to get hurt. I heard the combine coming through the corn right behind me. I didn’t have time to get out of its way! The corn was dense, fully matured and taller than me. Ron couldn’t see me. The combine’s header scooped me up. I braced myself with my head and my leg, and waved my free arm in the air, shouting Ron’s name and praying that he would hear me.
The combine cab is soundproof to protect the driver against the machine’s noise. But, in a total miracle, Ron stopped. He hit the kill switch because he heard me saying his name as if I were sitting right beside him and having a casual conversation.
He climbed out and saw me lying on the combine’s header. My left arm and leg were gone.
Even in that moment, God’s peace came over me. It felt as if He told me that I was going to be okay. My uncle used to say, “God knows your beginning, your middle, and your end.” God knew that this was going to happen to me and He had my hand in His the whole time. He wasn’t going to let go.
The EMS crew came to the field with tourniquets, expecting that I had lost a lot of blood. Unlike some combine headers, the one we use twists off the corn rather than slicing the stalks. Had my limbs been cut off, I would have bled to death. Instead, the twist sealed off my blood vessels like a tourniquet and saved my life. It was just another way that God was looking out for me. The EMTs asked what my pain level was, and I said “Two! It feels like my arm is tingling.” (Editor’s note: Medical transportation from the scene of an accident is ineligible for sharing per the CHM Guidelines; please see Guideline U for information about medical transportation expenses that are eligible for sharing.)
I was conscious the whole time, from the moment of the accident to the time they anesthetized me at the hospital for emergency surgery.
The hospital physician told Dale that he didn’t know if I was going to make it. I wish he would have told me that! I could have reassured Dale because I was confident that God was going to bring me through this. I believe that God was preparing me for this even when I was a teenager. When resting, I would stand on my right leg like a flamingo, just for the fun of it. Because of that, I was already good at balancing on my right leg.
Another way God prepared me was through hiking and climbing. I had wanted to hike on the Appalachian Trail, but life kept getting in the way, and it would be pushed off. Finally, Dale told me that I needed to go, and in 2016 I started section-hiking the trail.
Two months before the accident, I finished hiking 115 miles of the hardest section of the Appalachian Trail. At the time of my accident, I was in the best shape of my life.
Ron knew how much I loved hiking, so after the accident, he kept saying, “I’m so sorry, I feel like I ruined your life.” But I had a choice of how to look at it: I could choose to accept that this was part of God’s plan for my life, or I could choose to let it drag me down and question my faith. I made a decision to see that God was holding my hand through this. I told Ron, “You didn’t ruin my life. I am in the perfect position for God to use me—He can redeem even the hardest things we face.”
There have been ongoing complications from the injury. Basically, I’m ruining my joints. Each joint is only supposed to carry half of my weight—or do “half” of the work. Now they’re doing all of it. Over time, I’m probably going to need joint replacement. Thanks to Brother’s Keeper program, I have faith that all of my eligible expenses over $125,000 will be shared.
Despite the hardship, God has been with Dale and me through every difficulty we’ve come up against, and He’s using my injury to strengthen my faith and give me opportunities to talk about God. God has opened many doors because of my injuries. The local newspapers and TV stations picked up my story and gave me a platform to share my faith. I hate speaking in public, but God has given me the courage to take advantage of these opportunities!
CHM has been so good to us through all of this. I love everyone I talk to! Every time I call, the staff is helpful in answering my questions, and they take the time to encourage and minister to me. I always feel better after talking with CHM staff members.
Just as important is the fact that we didn’t have to wait on approvals to receive treatment. The doctor told us what I needed to continue my recovery, and then I got it. No referrals, no approvals, no hassle. Thanks to God and CHM, I can get the treatment I need when I need it.
CHM has shared over $200,000 for my injury. This was a freak accident, but through the Gold and Brother’s Keeper programs, CHM members shared it all. I know my injury will cause me future difficulties and medical treatment, but because we are Gold members with Brother’s Keeper, I don’t have to worry about how we’ll meet those expenses.
I am acutely aware of my amputated hand, even though it’s gone. I always feel it as if it’s still there. Our pastor recently shared in church that God walks beside us, and that’s when I realized something: My brain has continually pictured my amputated hand as curled around someone else’s hand—God’s hand. God has been holding my hand this entire time. He was with me through the accident, and he has continued to be with me in the healing. By His grace, I’ve made it this far, and I know He’ll always be with me.