'Life goes on'
Myron Schlafman was back in his garage mixing sausage last week using the same machinery that took his left hand on Aug. 17. He bagged a deer with a crossbow on Oct. 6, but said he isn't sure about operating a snowblower yet. Schlafman, 69, said ...
Myron Schlafman was back in his garage mixing sausage last week using the same machinery that took his left hand on Aug. 17. He bagged a deer with a crossbow on Oct. 6, but said he isn't sure about operating a snowblower yet.
Schlafman, 69, said his life is getting back to normal after the accident.
"I'm an old German guy and it's hard to ask for help from anybody," Schlafman said.
Schlafman recalled that he was processing more meat than usual when he lost his hand in a mixer.
"That is how the accident happened," Schlafman said.
Schlafman had just completed grinding the meat for sausage when he reached for a loose piece in the machine. As he leaned forward he stepped on the foot pedal that activated the grinder, severing the bone above his hand.
The grandchildren arrived earlier than expected for an afternoon in the backyard pool, which is why his granddaughter heard him yell for help, he said. It was the first of many things that seemed to fall into place to help save his life, he said.
"I heard something from the garage and ran in there," said Devony Carlson, his granddaughter. She held up the stainless steel grinder so that Schlafman could cut the remaining piece of arm away to try and stop the bleeding.
"His arm was way in there and there was no way out without cutting the arm," Carlson said.
She said Schlafman was calm and knew what to do. He wrapped his arm in a towel while directing her to put his hand in a freezer bag.
"The hand didn't look mangled," Carlson said.
Sgt. Shane Gallagher and Officer Andrew Staska of the Jamestown Police Department were nearby and at the garage within 2 minutes of the call, he said. The officers applied a special tourniquet to stop the bleeding, Schlafman said, and the ambulance had him transported to Jamestown Regional Medical Center within 9 minutes of the 911 call.
Schlafman's daughter-in-law, Kacey Schlafman, said a friend of hers kept the children in the pool so they wouldn't see their grandfather with his graphic injury.
During the 45-minute stay at JRMC it was decided that the hand could not be reattached, Kasey Schlafman said. The hand was later sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where doctors came to the same conclusion, she said.
Schlafman was airlifted to Sanford Health in Fargo where he spent about a week in the hospital, she said. The concern at the time was to prevent infection, she said.
"He's not a quitter," Kacey Schlafman said of her father-in-law. "He's not going to give up on anything. He's strong and he's awesome right now."
Schlafman's wife, Cel, said she feels her husband's frustration with the day-to-day things and the phantom pain, but overall he is doing well. It helped for him to get back in his workshop, she said.
"He kind of wondered about it in the beginning but he went out there a week or so ago and jumped right back into it and seems to be doing very well," she said.
Schlafman expects his arm to be healed enough for a prosthetic in about a month and went to the Veterans Administration in Fargo on Thursday. He served in the U.S. Army with the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam from 1969-70.
Each day is a trial of discovering something he can still do and some things he cannot do or cannot do yet, Schlafman said. He can run his smoker but needs his wife to button his pants and shirt, he said.
"I get frustrated but that's just normal," he said.
Schlafman is still the happy-go-lucky kind of person he was before the accident, Carlson said. His perspective on life has changed to "what doesn't break you makes you stronger," she said.
"This has definitely made him stronger," she said. "He is more determined now."
Carlson said the family is also working to get past this accident. It helps to talk about it, she said.
Schlafman is retired from a trucking career and said he is happy and fortunate in life to have a wife of 27 years, two children, two stepchildren, 12 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
"Life goes on and everything will be just fine," he said.
The two police officers, Gallagher and Staska, will be honored with a lifesaver award at 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at the University of Jamestown hockey game against Arizona State University at John L. Wilson Arena.
"They should have recognition," Schlafman said.