Man recalls amputation storyTwenty-three pages into a book he wrote before he forgets the details, Larry Kaiser begins the story of his life-changing accident. “Facing the World Single Handed” tells about the 1949 incident when Kaiser, who now lives in Texas, was 14 years old and lost his arm. It also tells about how he’s recovered and gone on to play football, golf, pool and do woodworking, just like anyone else would.
By: By Pippi Mayfield, Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
Twenty-three pages into a book he wrote before he forgets the details, Larry Kaiser begins the story of his life-changing accident.
“Facing the World Single Handed” tells about the 1949 incident when Kaiser, who now lives in Texas, was 14 years old and lost his arm. It also tells about how he’s recovered and gone on to play football, golf, pool and do woodworking, just like anyone else would.
“I learned to do lots of little short cuts and adjustments,” he said.
About 60 years ago, Kaiser, his brother and their dad got up at 4 a.m. on a Saturday and drove east of Ogema to go hunting. He was walking with his group on a drive through the woods toward other hunters in the group.
“I got near my cousin and I saw him and he saw me,” he said. “And then I was standing there, waiting for the other hunters to come and gather at the end of this drive. I was watching this mink climb around on a brush pile and I heard a gunshot.”
The shot knocked him to his hands and knees and he couldn’t move or talk for a period of time.
“At that point, of course, I didn’t know what had happened. It took me a while to figure out what was going on.”
Finding his voice, he started yelling that he had gotten shot and the hunters in his party helped him up and to the vehicle. They drove to a small hospital in Ogema to “patch it up and give me painkillers,” and then he was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Detroit Lakes.
They took a look at the wound, and decided to wait until Monday to see how the blood circulation was doing. When Monday came, they decided they would have to amputate his arm above the elbow.
“Most of this was going on and I was not informed very much what was happening. I was pretty much under sedatives and other medications. A few days after Monday I woke up and realized that it was missing.
“I thought at first, ‘gee, maybe this is a dream.’”
According to the Nov. 17, 1949, issue of the Detroit Lakes Record, fellow hunter Ray Krause, about 30 yards out, mistook him for a deer and shot.
He said when he was shot, he thought he’d have his arm in a sling for a few weeks and be the same as ever.
“It didn’t turn out that way.”
After his arm was amputated, the community hosted a fundraiser to help pay for a prosthetic arm.
He went through a hospital in Minneapolis for his arm, where he returned for some training with his new limb as well.
“It was not comfortable,” he said of the artificial arm. “I did not like it, but I know I had to wear it and learn how to use it. But I didn’t like it. It was restrictive. Sometimes it felt like it was torture.”
Pippi Mayfield is a reporter at the Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Tribune, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.