Athmann thankful – and lucky – to be alive after mishap

 

Alice Athmann was happy to help out during the Oct. 28-30 Worn-A-Bit Sale in the Church of St. Michael basement in Spring Hill. On Oct. 28 she talked about a crocheted afghan and pillow handcrafted by Marilyn Gruber using yarn from long time Spring Hill resident Dorothy Lembeck and raffled off during the event. They were made in memory of Lembeck, who passed away Oct. 24, 2021.

Athmann is thankful to be alive. In May she was working in her Spring Hill home when she had a mishap, and thanks to a neighbor she figures she is alive today to talk about it.

A rainstorm passed through Spring Hill May 12 knocking out the electricity throughout town. An independent person, Athmann, then age 89, wanted to keep ahead of the sump-pump in the basement possibly running over, so around 7:15 p.m. she went in the basement with two flashlights and her cell phone, the phone which she put on the table above the sump-pump so it wouldn’t fall out of her pocket into the water. And Athmann had a plan. She filled five ice cream buckets with water from the sump-pump and poured it into the wet and dry shop vacuum and, on her hands and knees, wheeled the shop vac to the drain where she dumped out the water. She went back and forth doing this numerous times.

“I did that for four hours, but the water just kept coming up through the sump-pump, and I said, ‘the heck with it,’ because I couldn’t keep up with it,” she said.

She was going to go upstairs and then she fell, and her cell phone was out of her reach to call for help.

Her knees were bloody and the tops of her toes were bleeding from crawling and she could not feel her feet, which the doctor later told her was because when she crawled back and forth those four hours her circulation was cut off.

She fell a second time, landing against her furnace.

“I hit my face and my nose and lip were bleeding, and I had a big gash on my head,” she said, later told she had a damaged rib on her left side and a dislocated right shoulder.

About 1 a.m. on May 13, Athmann finally made her way up her basement steps, which took her about one hour to do, going backwards because she couldn’t feel her feet, and she finally made it to her bed. A few hours later she moved to her living room couch. Then she heard her neighbor, Mary Wuertz, calling “Alice, Alice.”

“Mary was standing in front of my picture window, but she couldn’t see me and I wasn’t able to get her attention,” Athmann said.

Wuertz wanted to ask Athmann for an extension chord, which she was going to hook up to her generator to keep Athmann’s sump-pump running.

Ten minutes later Wuertz returned.

“She said something told her to come back, and she came by the window again. It was lighter outside this time, and I sat up and she saw me,” Athmann said. “I said, ‘Call the ambulance.’”

Wuertz, a nurse, tended to Athmann, who was taken by Melrose ambulance to CentraCare-Melrose Hospital, where she ended up staying two weeks, dealing with, among other things, a torn ligament, that doctors told her could take up to six months to heal.   

But Athmann isn’t one to wallow in her woe. She would rather focus on the positive, like pitching in during the Worn-a-Bit Sale where she was asked to sell raffle tickets Oct. 29-30. So were many other parishioners. The kitchen on Oct. 28 was filled with people making more than 200 homemade pies sold during the two-day event. Another group of ladies were in the dining room arranging tables filled with clothes and other items also part of the sale.

Pam Lieser was making filling for the pies, wearing a special apron from her aunt.

“The story behind the apron is my mom’s sister, who lives in Golden Valley, when I started having grandchildren, she bought me this apron because she said her memory of her grandmother, which would be my mom’s mother, was grandma always had an apron on in the kitchen when she was baking and the grandkids were always around, and she got me this apron that says ‘Be Happy,’” Lieser said. “And now I’m in the church basement doing a good deed.”

Athmann, who turned 90 in July, was also doing a good deed, knowing how fortunate she was to be alive. She rattles off names of women, who passed away over the past two years, who were instrumental for years in church events, including the Worn-a-Bit Sale.

She was thankful she was not on that list, knowing she has more work to do.

“They told me (in the hospital), ‘You’re really tough,’” Athmann said.

These days she doesn’t go into her basement any more than she has to, and if she does, she takes precautions.

She is grateful to family, friends – and especially her neighbor – who helped her during and after her May mishap.

“I’m just thankful Mary came over that day,” Athmann said. “And I’m still alive and lucky.”