Roy Exum: My Adventures In ‘Minne-snow-ta’

Friday, February 4, 2011 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Several years ago I was an in-house guest at the famed Mayo Clinic, which is about 90 miles south of Minneapolis in the state of “Minne-snow-ta,” and one memorable night about this time of the year two pretty nurses came into my hospital room rolling a gurney. It was about 8:30 p.m. and they said they had orders to take me for another test.
At the time I was really sick but it was manageable, with constant IV drips of antibiotics and pain medicines. So the nurses wrapped me in a skinny sheet, and we went down the elevator, where my giggling saboteurs immediately raced me outside of St. Mary’s Hospital to administer a test that would accurately determine “if you can tell if is cold or not.”

At the time it was 60 degrees below zero. It was the most unbelievable weather experience of my life. One laughingly told me to spit and, so help me, my saliva bounced and then rolled. The moisture on my eyeballs was beginning to freeze, and the girls thought it was hysterical until I asked through chattering teeth what was going to happen when the meds in the IV lines got iced up.

We weren’t outside for 30 seconds total and it was a great lesson. It has never been lost on me that – every winter – about 15,000 Mayo Clinic employees battle the worst weather imaginable to take care of patients like me. So this week I checked on my blue-eared chums, and they’ve already had 60 inches of snow this winter. Yesterday the wind chill was minus-45 degrees.

Mayo Clinic sprawls for almost ten blocks in downtown Rochester, but the main buildings are connected by a web of amazing underground hallways, all brightly lit and warm and sprinkled with pleasant art so people don’t have to brave the elements and become lab specimens. But the next time you grumble about a “wintery mix” in Tennessee, I’m here to tell you it could be a whole lot worse.

The Minnesota people are a hardy bunch. They get to work on time every day. A lot of them plug their cars in at night, and their autos aren’t exactly hybrids. The plugs keep the oil in the engine blocks warm enough to start their cars the next morning. The guys who drive the big diesel rigs actually leave them running all night.

When the snows hit, all the farmers around the cities and towns have huge snow plows on their four-wheel drive pickup trucks and, since they can hardly do much farming in ice, many of them make money clearing the parking lots before dawn. The public works crews are legendary, and the DOT trucks barrel down the main highways throwing up huge waves of snow.

It’s something to see. Every kid goes to school every day. One harsh winter I was there and the wind chills got to almost 70 below, so the governor called off school in the entire state. What makes that so odd is that it was only something like the tenth time they’d done it in the last 50 years. In “Minne-snow-ta” there ain’t no such thing as a “snow day” for school kids to pray for who haven’t done their home work.
What’s more, often the cars driving up to Minneapolis go about 50 miles an hour on literally a sheet of packed snow. I’ve done it. One time, after I’d been in the hospital about two weeks, I finally headed for home on such a glaze, driving to the Twin Cities in a rental car for the flight south.

When I was discharged that particular day, I left with an antibiotic device that actually pumps a bag of strong medicine through a PICC line twice a day. About the time I left, it dawned on me I could take a “feeding” during my hour and a half drive to Minneapolis.

So I rigged the contraption up on the coat hook over the rear door, wiggled in the driver’s seat and, with the both the heater and the radio blasting, headed north. About 15 miles out, I started to play goo-goo eyes with some blonde in a Camaro, and we started leap-frogging one another going up State Hwy. 52.

Just before we got to Cannon Falls, I’d fallen back a little. As I zoomed to catch up, an alert Minnesota Highway Patrol officer caught me speeding and “driving too fast for conditions.” It was about 10 degrees outside, but he was pretty determined. Little did he know I was, too.

I cracked the window about an inch and explained I couldn’t get out of the cozy car “because, as you can see,” I said as I thumbed towards the medicine swinging on the coat hook, “I’m having to constantly be administered the most powerful antibiotics known to modern-day man."

“Don’t worry, sir. I deserve the citation,” I said, “but, well, I just got out of Mayo Clinic. I’ve been in heavy isolation for three weeks.”
Right then I slyly plucked a nostril hair, which will really make your eyes water, and took a deep sigh. “After all, you can write whatever kinds of ticket you want because I don’t guess the court date will really matter. You see, I’m still really sick and have just been sent home. Maybe for good,” I told the officer, noting his eyes seemed to have become a bit disturbed.

“Say, you don’t have a rubber glove in your cruiser, do you?” I asked trying to seem a bit sheepish. “I’m going to give you my Tennessee license, but I can guarantee you that your wife and children would feel better if you handled it a little more carefully than you ordinarily would … I know you’re just doing your job ... I don’t want this to sound like some corny pun but, sir, I’d just die if you got what I got.”

Well, I knew that trooper just thought he’d heard it all, but he eyed the IV line once more before he sort of slinked back from my window. He said how sorry he was, that I was so sick and all, and that, come to think of it, he figured that we’d just call everything square if I would promise to slow down.

I promised I would, and we departed as friends. Try as I did, I never could catch up with the girl in the Camaro. You see, you have to be really careful on the Minnesota highways around this time every year. They are slick, too.

royexum@aol.com


Improvements On The Glass Bridge

The glass bridge has been an embarrassing situation almost since the day of installation. At least two or three and usually more sections of glass have continuously been cracked. This creates fear in pedestrians and causes most to want to use the middle metal section. In addition, it has not been maintained for cleanliness.  I observed that both the front section and ... (click for more)

California Is Hypocritical - And Response

Re:  Roy Exum: California's Foolishness This is the ridiculousness that has always been California, land of fools and the extremist liberal hypocrite state. ("We" can punish "you" because "we" don't like what "you" stand for but don't punish "me" because "you" don't like what "we" stand for.)  Dear California, please drop anchor somewhere else because you're a large ... (click for more)

Young Woman Suffers Serious Injuries In 30-Foot Fall At Quarry At Greenway Farms

A young woman was seriously injured on Wednesday night  when she fell approximately 30 feet from a bluff at the the Greenway Farms quarry in Hixson.   Some kayakers were paddling in the quarry shortly after  8 p.m. when they saw the woman fall to the ground below. They immediately went over to the victim and called 911. The Chattanooga Fire Department ... (click for more)

Walker County Taking Out Another Loan To Deal With Debts Left By Bebe Heiskell Administration

Walker County officials said they are having to take out another loan to deal with debts left by the Bebe Heiskell administration. Commissioner Shannon Whitfield has called a special meeting for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the commissioner's office in Lafayette. The agenda includes a $4 million tax anticipation note from Lafayette Bank, which stepped in to help the new administration ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Hosts Memphis City FC Wednesday

 What a week it's been for CFC. After starting the season scoring only six goals in eight games, the boys in blue have racked up 12 goals in the last three matches, most recently shutting down FC Carolina United 5-0 this past Saturday.  Chattanooga FC returns to the pitch this Wednesday to take on interstate rival Memphis City FC in a must win game for both teams  ... (click for more)

Rodriquez Homers Twice As Lookouts Trip M-Braves Wednesday, 5-1

PEARL, Miss.  -- Jonathan Rodriguez hit two home runs as the Chattanooga Lookouts defeated the Mississippi Braves 5-1 on Wednesday. After already winning the first-half of the Southern League North Division, the Lookouts have opened the second-half in first place at 5-1. The Lookouts put together a strong, complete game with good pitching and some timely hitting.  ... (click for more)