I’m waking up on day three at North Kansas City Hospital with several broken ribs and a fractured right transverse process of my first lumber vertebra. In a rush Friday morning during the rain, I slipped and fell down a flight of seven deck steps. I haven’t taken a hit that hard since Belcher from Jeff City in a state championship game in 1976. I knew immediately I was injured but not to what extent. Our lake property is on eight acres and it’s pretty isolated. I sounded the call for a little help and no one was around. My phone was in my truck, so I crawled up the stairs and into the vehicle. Other than a painful throbbing back and side, I decided to drive to Lake Regional in Osage Beach. I should have kept driving north.
I was quickly admitted and while waiting in a bed enclosed only by a curtain, I heard no fewer than three diagnoses of Covid delivered in the surrounding cocoons. Two of the three were admitted and being placed on ventilators. I would be more sympathetic to the sufferers if they were entirely free of responsibility for their own conditions, but they likely are not.
For a variety of reasons—some of them understandable, some not—rural Missourians have resisted the Covid vaccine. The Kansas City Star, for instance, recently profiled two counties, one in Kansas, one in Missouri. Politically, they are indistinguishable. More than 70 percent of the residents of Marshall County, Kansas voted for Donald Trump in 2020. The same is true for Shannon County, Missouri. Each is a county seat with fewer than 10,000 residents. But Marshall County, located along the Kansas-Nebraska border, has a vaccination rate of 63 percent among adults compared to 23 percent in Shannon County, located in Southwest Missouri. I know Missouri is the Show-Me State, but that label was supposed to be metaphorical.
Apparently, it is not. Dating back to the moonshine era, if not to the Civil War, a large swath of Missouri has not cottoned to government intervention. In this case, though, the government is not intervening. The government is merely encouraging. Ironically, by resisting vaccinations, certain Missourians are causing the Covid count to accelerate and, in so doing, driving the government to impose collective sanctions on the whole population.
No one wants to see any more lockdowns. They are unproductive and unworthy of a democracy. To prevent them, the freedom loving people of rural Missouri need to rethink their resistance to vaccines. The fact that the government says they are good for you does not mean they are not. I urge the people throughout the region to study the data themselves. Before I got my J&J vaccine, I certainly did. The calculation I made was that, for adults, the good they do vastly outweighs the harm, both on an individual basis and on a societal one.
I am tired of seeing sporting events canceled, entertainments called off, restaurants closed, and businesses shuttered because some people refuse to see beyond their own left arms and refuse the vaccine. Remember in grade school, when students each year were given without debate shots for the measles, mumps, smallpox, whatever? That was an expected mandate.
If people cooperate, I will take comfort knowing that the next time a family member gets hurt—we will not have to wait multiple hours in a Covid-infested hospital to be treated, or worse, discharged among a waiting room infested with Covid. Please do your homework and take one for the team (or two with Moderna or Pfizer).
At Lake Regional I did have a CT scan with dye injection which identified a significant fracture in my lower back. I was administered proper pain meds and written scripts then moved into a transport chair and parked in the crowded waiting room. “We simply need your bed Mr. Sweeney. Is your ride on the way?” Sure, she should be here in about four hours.
I’m not a health professional but I am a profuse student of healthcare and trends, and I suspect a patient with a broken back probably should be admitted and receive appropriate care. I took a filthy taxi to a hotel at the lake to escape the dangerous environment before an incredibly uncomfortable ride to KC.
After trying to recover at home for a day I called my good friend of 45 years, Dr. Steve Reintjes at North Kansas City Hospital, who instructed me to come to his ER. The diagnosis from Lake Regional was partially accurate but they missed several broken ribs. They were unable to send a digital scan as the hospital does not possess the software. The good folks at NKCH helped incredibly and I’ll be forever indebted. No hospital should be tasked with being overcrowded by patients who refuse to receive the vaccine. I realize there are exceptions, especially with pregnant women or folks with certain health conditions, but c’mon folks, help humanity and do your part to save the world we share.