I wish I could say I would never forget but truthfully some of it I have or actually maybe I have not forgotten but more like tucked it away in my unconscious mind and only think about it when triggered. I am talking experiencing the worst day of my life! It happened Aug 19, 2005 which I actually had to ask my mom the exact date because I have totally blocked it out. I am speaking of a horrific accident that my oldest son Kestan now 14, when he was 8 yrs old put his hand in a electric meat grinder and lost more than half of his hand! I suffer from PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined as a disorder that follows a distressing event outside the range of normal human experience and that is characterized by features such as intense fear, avoidance of stimuli associated with the event, and reliving of the event. I do not talk about it often unless asked because to this day it is just so painful to think or talk about for my but my son Kestan on the on the other hand ( no pun intended) will tell you in a heart beat what happened without skipping any details and has been this open about it since it happened.
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As a matter of fact I remember sitting in a restaurant and Kestan had a cast on now mind you he did not have fingers sticking out like most people do when they have a cast on but instead the end of his cast was shaped like a round ball because he did not have any fingers that needed to stick out, anyhow a man came up to our table and said “excuse me but can I ask what happened to his hand because his cast is very odd looking with the round end and all” , well before I could even open my mouth Kestan then 8blurted out “ I CHOPPED MY HAND OFF IN A MEAT GRINDER” and went back to eating like it was nothing. Of course his dad and I further explained what had happened. What had happened exactly was my now ex-husband, Kestan’s Dana Kretchmar 2
dad and I were owners of a Steak house in West Texas town called Gorman population 1200! Being the owners of a Steak House we ordered meat and would cut our own steaks daily and the part we did not use for steaks we would grind up and use for hamburgers or even sell it to the local people. On this particular day I was at the back of the restaurant and our younger son was with his grandma, and Kestan was at the restaurant with me because his dad was working and wanted to spend some time with him. While in the kitchen prepping the steaks for the night,Kestan was helping his dad by putting the meat into the grinder as he had done before and knew he needed to be safe and use the long round tool to push the meat down his dad not but a inch away if even that when devastation hit. Mind you I was in another side of the restaurant and in the back with the door shut and music on and heard the loud screams of my son and his dad yelling but could not make out what was being said, so I walked out to see what was going on and was meet by my ex-husband carrying my son with a towel rapped around his hand soaked in blood screaming we gotta go we gotta go and go now !
I just stood there and couldn’t move not really not sure what I just saw. After a second I took off running after them to the car and there they sat in the front seat my ex-husband looking like he had just seen a ghost and my son just as pale not crying but silent! I saw the blood tinged towel and started yelling what happened…what happened but only silence. Finally my son calm as could be I stuck my hand in the meat grinder mommy and it is bleeding. I looked over at his dad and he didn’t have to say a word I just knew and without words his look said it all and I lost it!!
The hospital was 20 minutes from where we lived at that time and they were not equipped for any kind of trauma like this. I drove like a bat out of hell and was not stopping for Dana Kretchmar anything even a 18 wheeler coming head on toward us while passing a car around a curve and all the while a cop on the side. We had a friend that worked as a nurse there and I called her to let her know as best I could that we were coming and to call 911 so they would not pull us over because we did not have a lot of time because Kestan was loosing blood and we weren’t sure the extent of his injury completely yet. I also remember calling my mom who lived in Austin at the time and I was so historical she could not even understand me and did not realize I was telling her that I think your grandson just cut off his had and she was like ok well call me when you know more and I hope things are ok, again I lost it and I started yelling, screaming and cursing at her because she was not getting what I was saying and I remember Kestan saying” Mom quit yelling at Mamoo” I just looked at him and started crying then my mom got it and was on her way.
We got to the hospital and Kestan and his dad went into a exam room and I had to give the nurse all his information which I think they were actually trying to keep me from going into shock more than I was and to try and keep Kestan calm. I can still remember they unwrapped the towel off his hand and it was stuck to some of the areas that had dried and had to be pulled off in places and I heard Kestan scream and then I remember his dad coming out balling and said it’s gone, it’s gone, whats gone I asked, his hand he replied and I fainted. They got me up and alert and got Kestan cleaned up and stable with some medications to calm him down they called Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and a Care Flight Helicopter came to pick him up. He and his dad were care flighted to Dallas because there was only room for the patient and one extra passenger ,I had to be driven to Dallas which was the longest ride of my life.
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By the time we got there they had Kestan in the ER in a room and he was heavily sedated to keep him calm, he had also been given a few toys by the Child life service people to help make it not so scary. I remember walking in the room and seeing him hooked up to all these monitors and machines and I look up see a large cast type split where his hand was and then I looked up and there it was the first time I actually saw it HIS HAND well it was actually a X-ray but it sure did not look like a hand at all and I fell onto Kestan and just started crying.
My mom finally made it to the hospital and we were all glad to see her. Only hours after getting to the hospital Kestan was rushed off for his first of may surgeries to get the hand cleaned up and to see what exactly was there and what was gone. I remember that his dad and I couldn’t get along since getting to the hospital that it seemed that all we did was fight and argue about everything and thank goodness for my mom calming me down or I literally think I would have hurt him because I look back and I can say with fact that I blamed him for what had happened and I was mad! We endured many more surgeries and after almost two weeks they did a skin graft which they took skin from his abdomen a and placed it onto his had and closed up the area where his fingers should be. After a week or so more we were finally able to be discharged to go home. We made many a trip monthly back and forth to the hospital for Occupational Therapy and then were sent over to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital which is where we still go once a year for a check up. Our lives changed that day for ever but now I see that it could have been worse. My mom was a huge help to me and kept me strong along with Kestan and his unbreakable spirit.
Not once did he ever say “ Why me” or let it stop him, I remember as a mater of fact that after his first surgery he was in the actives center for the children in the hospital and Dana Kretchmar he went to play a Xbox game with this huge case on his hand and didn’t miss a beat using the remote and I knew right then and there he was going to be ok and we were going to be ok. I had to have my mom tell me the exact date of the accident because I will admit that I have blocked it out of my mind . Other than the accident its self there is one other even that I will never forget and that was the day we went back to the hospital to get his cast off and Kestan got to actually see his hand for the first time since the accident and to this day I will never get over his reaction, the sadness, fright in his eyes and he would not look at it for some time as a matter of fact it took two hours to get him to finally calm down enough to get him to look at his hand but it did not last very long. I just felt helpless and as a mother that is the worst feeling in the world.
This is actually the first time I have ever put this tragedy on paper and let me tell you it has not been easy, I have had to take many breaks to stop the tears. There was a time though that I couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about what happened because I couldn’t remember much of what exactly had happened and when I did I would go into a tale spin and somewhat loose my marbles for a few days. I would look at Kestan and pictures and think I still saw his hand, but I think what got me the most was every-time I went into the restaurant after the accident I could see blood, hear him yelling and I would have to leave as fast as I could. I finally just blocked everything and began to push the memories away and would not talk to anyone about it and went into a major depression with in myself. My mom as well had a very hard time dealing with it and we both had to get professional help along with having to be put on medication to help keep us at a even level of conciseness. I feel to this day that I also held such anger toward Kestan’s dad that we grew apart and eventually our marriage ended in divorce and I got out of that town as fast as I Dana Kretchmar could and have not looked back.
I still have many questions to why this happened to my son but it has not stopped him from achieving his dreams, he can play football with the best of them, tie his shoes, play video games, hunt, fish and everything else teenagers do. I have my moments within myself where I remember new things and have to take a moment or I look at a picture and hear his cries and screams but when I open my eyes and see him now I know it is ok. God has a plan for all of us and he knew that this was in our life’s path and we may never know why but we embrace it now and continue to move forward and I could not be prouder of how brave my son has been and that he has overcome such a huge hurdle in his life with such bravery.