Donald Barnes probably wasn’t thinking that taking down a canvas tent could land him in the hospital. But on Aug. 28, while helping his son, and wrangling with the large, two-roofed structure, first inside and then outside, he grabbed the older roof and it tore, throwing him to the ground and into a pile of farm equipment.
Seeing his left foot at an odd angle to his leg, the retired physician knew his prognosis wasn’t good. His son immediately called the Bad Rock Fire Department and asked them to bring six guys to help get his father out of the mess of metal without having to drag him out. And — in the middle of the afternoon — six volunteers showed up, gently lifted the senior Barnes from the pile, put him on a gurney, into an ambulance and headed to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
Indeed, Barnes had shattered the total hip replacement he’d received in June of 2017 into three large pieces and 23 small ones. On. Aug. 30, Dr. Joseph Bergman, his orthopedic surgeon, performed a four-hour surgery to put his left thigh bone back together, replacing the entire hip joint.
Barnes began a successful stint of in-house rehab Sept. 1. Dr. Stephen Webber headed the team of orthopedic, physical and recreational therapists.
“They are a great team,” Barnes said. “They push you to do as much as you can do.”
After six days of rehab Barnes was able to go home with strict orders to place no weight on that hip. Since then he’s either been in a wheelchair or a Barcalounger most of the time, he said. His wife helps him get from walker to wheelchair to car for appointments.
Barnes was the first anesthesiologist in the Flathead Valley. He practiced at Kalispell Regional from 1969 to 1992, then acted as a locum tenens for four years, traveling around the state to fill in for vacationing doctors, before retiring in 1996 after 37 years of practice.
Oct. 17 will be a big day for the doctor. He’s got an appointment with his orthopedic surgeon to get X-rays and find out if his hip is strong enough to begin exercise. When asked what the first thing he wants to do is if he gets the OK, he wisely responded, “Whatever I’m told to do. At 84, this is my last chance.”
He knows it will be a gradual recovery of three to four months.
In a letter to the editor Barnes thanked the many professionals who had a hand in his care and recovery.
“I sincerely wish to thank the excellent work of the Bad Rock Fire Department, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joseph Bergman and his wonderful surgical team and house staff, and the many members of the KRH In-house Rehabilitation unit. Their very dedicated work made my trip possible, and a lot easier that I could have thought.
“I know there has been a lot of ‘news’ lately about the hospital, but without the excellent work of these three groups, this 84 year-old retiree might not have made it through so easily. Thanks, my respect, hats off and kudos to these hard-working people all.”
Community Editor Carol Marino may be reached at 758-4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.