Life changes in a blinkIt took a split second for tragedy to strike Patrice “Tigger” Cheselski. She was checking an oil leak under the truck she and her husband, Jerry, used for their family septic system business when the furry hood of her vest was caught in the power take off shaft.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
It took a split second for tragedy to strike Patrice “Tigger” Cheselski. She was checking an oil leak under the truck she and her husband, Jerry, used for their family septic system business when the furry hood of her vest was caught in the power take off shaft. By the time the truck was shut off, Patrice’s right arm and side were wrapped up in the shaft.
The couple, married 21 years, kept talking to each other as Jerry cut Patrice out.
“At this point I knew my lungs had been crushed,” the Parkland woman said. Although she was in pain everywhere, her breathing was the biggest concern. It was cold, but she could feel warm blood beneath her. Patrice’s husband covered her with his sweatshirt and told her the ambulance was coming.
“I told him to make sure the kids knew I loved them,” Patrice said.
She didn’t lose consciousness until the Lifeflight Helicopter landed at St. Luke’s Hospital.
Patrice, who is nicknamed “Tigger” for her energetic, bouncy personality, was kept sedated for two weeks. When she resurfaced, her oldest son, Dan, who is serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, was at her bedside.
“I just decided at that point OK, it’s time to get better and it’s time to get stronger,” said Patrice, 39.
Despite more than 40 broken bones, she has done just that.
Speaking from her home Wednesday, Patrice said she knows her survival is a miracle.
“God and the angels were with me because I should not be here right now,” she said.
The toughest part of the treatment so far has been the skin grafts to replace the skin from her scalp that was ripped off in the accident. And, family and friends say, she still has a long road to recovery ahead.
The community will rally around Patrice and her family tonight. A benefit for the Cheselskis begins at 6 p.m. at the Log Cabin Tavern in Parkland. Don Davey, owner of the Log Cabin, said they are friends who deserve a helping hand.
“He’s just a good guy,” Davey said of Jerry Cheselski. “You know, he’s always willing to help out … he’s one of those guys who are big-hearted.”
The accident happened April 6. Four days later, Jerry had to get back into the truck that injured his wife and go back to work for their family business, Jarrid’s R & L Septic Service.
“The willpower he needed to do that, to me, was amazing,” Davey said.
Friday’s benefit will feature a chili feed, the variety rock of Johnny Youngbauer and classic rock by the Jack’s. There is no cost for the chili, which Davey promised will be mild enough for everyone, but donations will be accepted. Raffles will be held for a jukebox pre-loaded with 100 CDs, an antique wood stove, a compact photocopier, an official NFL game ball and much more. Silent auction items include local gift certificates, a wood carving, fishing rods, a Reggie White plaque and National Guard backpacks.
This is the second benefit for the Cheselskis to help with medical costs. The first was held at the E.Z. Street Saloon April 29.
Money also can be donated directly to the family through Patrice Cheselski’s account at Superior Bank, 2820 E. Second St., Superior.
Patrice said she knows family and friends are thinking of her. Employees at the Superior Wal-Mart, where she worked for 10 years before they started the family business, are among those keeping tabs on her recovery. The Parkland woman wanted to let everyone know she is getting better every day and sent a big “thank you” to everyone.
“It’s almost unreal how the community, family and friends have come together,” said Patrice. “So many thank yous, it’s crazy.”
She gave credit to the doctors, nurses and staff at St. Luke’s for their excellent care. Someday she hopes to find a way to fund more training for first responders in Douglas County, who were there to help her. And, most especially, Patrice thanked her husband and children for their support.
“We’re a close-knit family and always have been,” she said.
One good thing has come out of the accident.
“I’ve already had friends who work on farms take an extra second” before approaching machinery, Patrice said. And she’s warned her children never to approach or reach a hand out to machinery unless it’s shut off.
“It takes a split second to change your life forever,” she said.