August 8th, 2009


Regional West Medical Center

I have been given a laptop while I heal in the hospital and so I have had time to try and bring everyone up to date.  I’m Alive and making progress

I first of all want to thank all of you who have been so kind and supportive on this trek, and especially for the prayers offered on my behalf.

On Thursday night, the urgency of getting control of this rapidly spreading (unknown infection / reaction) sent me back to the hospital in Oskosh.  Upon further examination by a different physician this time, a Dr. McCoy, it was in her opinion, and in our best interest to have me drive to the Scottsbluff hospital to where I would be admitted and administered to until we got an answer for this dilemma.  After having a wonderful conversation with Dr. McCoy and the nursing staff, they sent me 60 miles down the road with blood vials and swab cultures in hand.

Upon arriving at about midnight, the Regional Center staff was waiting in anticipation and ready to start finding answers to this rapidly spreading problem.  I had been taking photos of my leg for the last couple of days, not only to put on the web site but to see the rate of progression.  The photos that I have presently posted don’t do justice to the condition that it is presently in.  Earlier on that Thursday night I was trying to just gently wipe off some fuzz from a gauze pad that had been on there and the skin just easily wiped off from my leg, so I decided not to do that again.  So when I arrived in Scottsbluff, a most thorough and knowledgeable Joe Jeter (Physicians Asst) was expecting the worst and had been doing research on the latest methods of treatment for necrophilia fasciitis, which is the flesh dissolving bacteria.  A lot of the indicators at the beginning were pointing in that direction.  They immediately took blood work and started me on a potent cocktail of antibiotics and in addition since then, they have added silver sulfadiazine cream which is used to treat large skin burn surfaces, because that is what my leg looks like now.  It looks like it has been in a fire with the skin sloughing off, inflamed black and blue with water blister and blood oozing from the traumatized area.  The good news is that after multiple doses of all of the above, this morning showed the first signs of stabilization.  YAHOO!  With the wonderfully skilled staff and the tenacity of Joe Jeter and the answered prayers of so many, I am making progress, so on Sunday morning, Joe will have a better idea of when I might be able to walk out of the hospital.  There will still be recovery time after I leave, but at least we are going in the right direction.  I can’t thank Mr. Jeter and the staff enough for their diligence in helping me recover.  Joe is also a history enthusiast and is very interested in my trek.  We have had wonderful discussions.

So… back to 1856 (remember why I (we) are doing this, what would have happened to the handcart pioneers in my situation?  I have asked that question to Dr. McCoy, who has kindly phoned my room to see how my progress is, and I also asked Joe Jeter and they both agree that the pioneer would have / could have lost their life.  The progression of events: picked choke cherries, received massive chigger bites, received inflammation and staph infection (see, systemic infection and eventual / potential death. At the beginning, this was the comparative road that I was on, but blood work showed that my markers were all as close to normal as could be with the trauma that the leg had suffered, so that was very encouraging.

As for the handcart, well it’s stuck at my last stop in Lisco, at the Lisco State Bank.  I met a wonderful senior bank president, Tom Olson that allowed me to park it in


the back of the bank.  Tom also has gone out of his way to help me in this time of trial.  Well to get my cart down the road I have a couple of companions who have stepped up to the plate (or cart), because in 1856 if I had gotten sick or injured, I would have ridden in one of the two wagons that carried the supplies and the sick, then the cart would have then been pulled during my illness, by the remaining family that was assigned to the cart.  Well that is just what has happened.  Up to the time of my injury/illness, no one had expressed interest or was scheduled to walk with me, even though we had been anticipating Reiker (Shirley’s 16 year old grandson) to join me sometime soon, well when I got sick, we got a call that Reiker would be coming out to meet us on Friday the 7th and would be able to walk with me for two weeks.  A few hours later and I was being admitted to the hospital, now the weight of the trek is on Reiker’s shoulders as I continue to mend.  I then got a call from “Fat Jeff Tapp”.  Remember “Fat Jeff” from earlier in the week, well he found out that I was in the hospital and had been planning on walking with me but now he said that he’ll pull the handcart on his own from Lisco to Broadwater (14 miles) to help keep this epic trek moving down the road.  You’re a good man Jeff!  I wish that I could be there to walk the day with you.  It is those conversations that last for an entire day that bond me so close to my companion walkers, but I have a good idea about the personality and nature of Jeff anyway and the Midwest is full of wonderful people like “Fat Jeff”.

So… I am healing, and I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven and my friends for that.  At the moment, I will be able to keep all of my parts and pieces, including my life, and even though I am about 5 days behind schedule, I am determined to make the Salt Lake Valley on time.  Each trial… each trauma… each opportunity to have wonderful people enter my life and help me along the way, has given me a stronger daily resolve that my “Faith is Stronger than my Pain”.  It is the inspiration of my grandmother and the thousands of others, including all of these modern day pioneers that give me every ounce of strength to continue to follow in those hallowed footsteps.

Short of losing my life, this is the reason that I have embarked on this journey.  To know and live the hardships, trials and trauma of those who gave so much on my behalf, but it is in those moments that human spirit is at its best.  If you have been following me along, I have recounted to you over and over, the wonderful and caring people who have added to the ingredients of this trek.  Long before I ever stepped foot on this trail, I prayed over and over to be able to experience those trying moments, well I believe that this is again… one of those moments.  Just as I feared for my life in Colfax IA during my 70+ mph straight-line tornado, briefly I feared for my life a couple of days ago when this reaction was moving so quickly.  For me to empathize and chronicle those moments of desperation or despair, I needed to live those moments.  I can tell you that those moments of anxiety were short lived and gave way to a feeling of calmness and closeness of the Spirit.  As many around the nation began to offer prayers on my behalf, my spirit became more calm, and I had the thoughts that even if I were to lose my life in this present trial, that everything would be alright, not that losing my life was a desire, but if it were inevitable, my heart was at peace and I can testify to you that those handcart pioneers who faced similar moments of anxiety and uncertainty went through similar moments of desperation, but their desperation soon turned to peace because their “Faith was Greater than their Pain” and they too knew that “everything would be alright”.  I am grateful for the trials on this journey.  The things that are of great value in this life require great effort.  That is how faith works.