Life Without Legs
by Harold Hurr
A day I'll never forget ...
The day after Thanksgiving, November 24, 1972, was just another day on our 300-acre dairy farm, and I proceeded to work it out as usual with long hours and devoted energy. I managed to leave the fields of golden grain the previous day for about three hours to enjoy a feast with my family, little knowing what lay ahead of me the following day.
While operating the corn picker this Friday afternoon I noticed that one corn-gathering chain was not moving. Disengaging the power-take-off, I observed that the chains were loose and proceeded to adjust the tension. I then engaged the power-take-off from a standing position on the ground, and still one gathering chain did not move. With the corn picker dividing points in a raised position and the machine in operation at about 100 revolutions per minute, I looked into the center corn-divider-access hole to determine why the left gathering chain did not turn. In so doing, I unconsciously bent my right knee in a forward position and into the right gathering chain which was in operation. The gathering chain pulled my leg in a wedged-tight position with knee forward, and the toe of my shoe pointed downward toward the snapping rolls. The slip clutches on the gathering chains were activated, so the chains stopped their moving.
With pains in my legs from the wedging pressure, I realized my leg would be taken into the machine should the chains resume movement. I tried desperately to decide the next move. Will the slip clutches wear out or will they re-engage and pull me into the snapping rolls? My hasty decision was to take hold of my leg with both hands and, with a quick jerk pull my leg free. This was not the answer, as it only loosened my leg enough to permit the slip clutches to re-engage and take my leg into the snapping rolls. One leg was pulled in only to be followed by the other.
In a matter of seconds
my legs were practically
mutilated to the knees.
In a matter of seconds my legs were practically mutilated to the knees while I remained in a sitting position with the snapping rolls turning under my groins. I screamed loudly for help and almost immediately my voice was faint. Aware that no one was near to hear my call-no one but God-I prayed a simple prayer, "Lord, please send help!" A passage of Scripture from Psalm 18:6 has become very precious to me since that time-"In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried unto my God: He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry came before Him, even into His ears."
Losing a lot of blood and knowing that to faint would mean toppling into the corn gathering chamber and fall into the left hand rolls which were just anxious to grab my jacket or arms, I managed to pry up and clutch my fingers under the manufacturer's nameplate which was held by two tiny metal screws. I had hopes that, should I faint, the gripped fingers would continue to hold me in an upright position.
During the next 10 to 15 minutes or gruesome agony, I concluded this situation could very well mean death for me. But I was resolved to the fact that "live or die," I was a child of God, and He gave me perfect "peace of mind."
As I remained in this position, I intermittently called with my weakened voice for help. Presently, a very handsome fifteen-year-old lad vividly dressed in green appeared on the scene. He was a neighbor boy who lived less than a mile from our farm who had taken a walk in the nearby woods to look for deer tracks. When I saw the young man, whom I have since surnamed Robin Hood, I knew God meant to save my life. With renewed courage, I gave the lad instructions to stop the machine and proceed to get emergency aid. Scott did a terrific job of getting things moving by entering the house and using the telephone. My wife and son, who had been shopping, arrived just as he had completed the call, and together they continued to seek help.
Rescue workers soon arrived with cutting torches and emergency equipment. Also, many friends and neighbors appeared on the scene. After about 45 minutes work, during which time I witnessed and made suggestions to the workmen, I was removed from the machine and rushed to the hospital. It was necessary to have emergency surgery to remove both legs above the knees.
I have been told by my family that during this time of surgery and anxiety, the waiting room for constant-care families was the scene of much prayer on the part of devoted family and several ministers who rushed to our aid. During the next few days, amidst pain and suffering, I became aware that there is a lot more to the world in the way of goodness and mercy in people than I had ever dreamed.
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