UPDATE: Jan. 24, 2018
Dr. Graf has recovered from his injuries well but he will never be 100% out of pain. He is strong and always in good spirits.
Dr. Graf is back to work on a normal schedule. (Well, aside from his out doors lifestyle and traveling to see his parents back home.) We are all so grateful for the thoughts and prayers from everyone and for the enormous amount of support we have received from our clients/friends. Nearly seven and a half years after his near death experience we are all so happy to have him here and healthy.
UPDATE: March 15, 2011
Well, it’s been a long hard road but we are counting our blessings and they are so many it takes a while. James is doing better and back to work a few hours a week. He is not able to be full time yet, (he is exhausted by noon and dealing with significant nerve pain) but hopefully by July he will be back full-time with light duty. The recovery was a lot more than initially expected. We just found out that he is going to have to go to a hand surgeon to see if there is something that can be done to help with the pain in his right hand. James has also been referred to another doctor to help with the nerve pain in his chest and arm. We are still very blessed that he is with us. Thank you to everyone across the country who sent prayers, well wishes, and financial donations that is what got us through this difficult time. Due to the support of the Fountain Community, Fountain Creek Veterinary Clinic was able to staff the clinic with relief doctors for the time that James has been out (six months). These doctors have been awesome in continuing to care for the sick and injured pets of the Fountain Valley area. A special thank you to Dr. Julee Avery who made it possible for James to have the necessary time to heal and recover. Dr. Avery was sooooo awesome we asked her to join the staff of FCVC on a permanent basis. Patty Graf
UPDATE: Jan 9, 2011.
Sorry it has been so long since the last update. It has been slow going but at least we are moving forward. Dr. Graf is recovering and now finding all of those “hidden” injuries that don’t show up until later, like broken fingers and right shoulder injured (healing well) and recovering from his head injury (that was worse than we first realized). It will probably be March before he is back to work on a part-time schedule. Please be patient with us as we work with other relief DVM’s and attempt to get things somewhat back to normal. He is, however, his honery self. Thanks again to our family, staff, and clients/friends we made it through this difficult time. Without you, we wouldn’t have made it. I thank God daily for all of the well wishes and prayers, without them, we would not have still been here. We love you. Patty
UPDATE: Nov. 28, 2011
It has been a long road but I believe we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to our friends and clients. The fund raiser was a hugh success and enabled us to pay to have relief DVM’s through the end of December and help pay medical bills. We are expecting James to be back, at least with light duty and part-time, by the first of the year. A special thanks to our daughters, Elizabeth and Amanda Harvell, our other staff, and clients who worked and donated time to organize this event. James is up and around and starting to be active. We miss being at work and seeing our clients and friends. Thank you to everyone that has helped us through this difficult time. We hope to see you soon as we return to our work. It was a wonderful thing to be reminded, when I woke up one day and realized how much I miss our clients and work and medicine. Not everyone can say they can’t wait to get back to work. James and Patty Graf
UPDATE: Donations are being accepted to assist with Dr. Graf’s medical expenses and to help the clinic through this difficult time. (See paypal link below)A fund raiser is being held at the clinic on Oct. 30 and 31. Events include pet photography, costume contest, hot dogs, silent auction, garage sale/bake sale of donated items. (The clinic is accepting donations for the garage sale/bake sale to be dropped off on this week). Fountain Creek Veterinary Clinic is a single doctor family practice.
UPDATE: Oct. 29, 2010 update on Dr. Graf.
Dr. Graf is improving and beginning to be able to walk short distances, sleep at night, and tell jokes. Yes, that means he’ll be back to his old self. He will probably return to the clinic part-time the first part of December and hopefully full time in January. He said to make sure that I told each and every one of you thank you so much for all that our friends have done for us. With Love James and Patty Graf
UPDATE: Oct. 15, 2010 update on Dr. Graf.
Dr. Graf had surgery yesterday to plate his clavicle. The surgeon said afterwards that it was much worse than the x-rayed showed. It was shattered in six pieces and he had driven his collar bone through his lung. The surgery went well and James is recovering. The doctor said that it will be at least 8 weeks before he will be able to lift, however he may be able to return to work in 6 weeks part-time, depending on other injuries and doctors. Thank you all for the cards and gifts to help through this difficult time. I’ll keep you posted.
POSTED IN LOCAL PAPER
Dr. Graf recovering from multiple injuries sustained while on vacation with his wife in the Teton National Forest in Wyoming.
Local veterinarian Dr. James Graf, owner of Fountain Creek Veterinary Clinic, (shown above with his wife, Patty), suffered multiple serious injuries while on a vacation with his wife last week. A grizzly bear spooked the mule he was riding, causing him to be thrown into a pile of jagged timber, logs and rocks.
Dr. James Graf, Owner of Fountain Creek Veterinary Clinic
Suffers Devastating Accident in Teton National Forest
BY LINDA HOBBS
On Friday, Oct. 1, it was nearing dusk just south of Jackson Hole, WY, when they rode up on a grizzly bear. Startled, the bear walked away as the mules Dr. James Graf and wife Patty Graf were riding went into a frenzy of terror. The mules simply followed their instinct to get away and ran wildly, bucking.
Dr. Graf’s mule bounded down the steep terrain, as he struggled to bring the powerful animal under control. The saddle slipped, sending Dr. Graf hurtling into a large pile of jagged timber, logs and rocks. He landed hard, hearing bones breaking as he hit. Patty scrambled to her husband’s side, found him at first limp, then moaning, blood pouring down his face and from the laceration in his head.
Dr. Graf suffered seven broken ribs (some in multiple locations,) broken fingers, a concussion, six fractures of the collar bone and a punctured lung, which partially collapsed, a pneumothorax, with contusions and abrasions. Imagine yourself in the same predicament. What would you do? Alone in the wild, and near dark, the situation was desperate.
However, as fate would have it, there in the middle of nowhere, a family happened to be out four-wheeling on their ATV’s, and the father just happened to be a firefighter. Where the hand of destiny had seemed to bring certain tragedy, it also brought a spark of hope. Richard, Megan, and Patty loaded Dr. Graf onto one of the ATVs and they embarked on an arduous four mile journey up the mountain to the trailhead, while Patty gathered the agitated mules (realizing she was covered in blood and there was an angry grizzly in the area, she felt very dark and alone). But she tried to think of her husband and started walking up the mountain, where another Good Samaritan met them (The Saunders family) and took the animals to their ranch. Richard drove Dr. Graf and Patty Graf to a junction almost 30 miles away where an ambulance rushed Dr. Graf to a Jackson Hole hospital. Richard was too concerned for Patty’s condition to allow her to drive (she had also been injured but not as badly), so he continued on driving as he and Patty followed the ambulance down the mountain road.
Patty didn’t sleep for 40 hours, keeping watch over her beloved husband and making the phone calls no one ever wants to make. The ER doctor told Patty that the trauma surgeon had been called in and was sleeping at the hospital because he was expecting a total lung collapse or other bleeding issues. On Saturday, the doctor told Patty that Dr. Graf’s punctured lung had partially collapsed, but he was holding his own. Dr. Graf was kept in ICU for 2 days and then transferred to the main hospital floor. The doctor repeatedly commented that he “was one tough cowboy”.
The news of the accident spread quickly throughout the tight-knit Fountain community. Friends of the Grafs, Rod and Sherri Allen, headed to Wyoming to help. They stayed until Dr. Graf was able to travel home and brought the Grafs home. Prayers were said, phones rang, people asked if there was anything they could do to help, as the magnitude of what just happened settled in. Dr. Graf has now been allowed to return home but is under doctor’s orders of rest and will be unable to work for 6-8 weeks (probably December part-time). Patty’s comment was simply, “I still have him. All the rest will work out.”
Dr. Graf moved to Fountain in 1993. He served as an E6 in the U.S. Army, having been a lead technician at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss. He is known for his cheerful nature and quick wit, as well as his fierce love of country. If anyone calls him a “vet” he’ll quip, “Yes, I am a vet. I’m also a veterinarian.”
The countless lives the Grafs have touched are beyond measure, bringing hope and healing when a beloved family pet falls ill, or offering comfort in times of loss.
They are known for never turning away an emergency and making time for patients, when their schedule is already straining at the seams. They make each person visiting the clinic feel special, whether they’ve been with them since the beginning, or are first-time clients – everyone and their animal is treated with respect and kindness. Now, the Grafs face their own time of need.
Dr. Graf will be out of commission for many long months as his body heals. In the meantime, the thriving veterinary business the family literally built from the ground up since 1993 is asking for your help to “keep the business open until Dr. Graf is back” and help staff the facility with relief doctors so the sick and injured patients can still be treated. Every donation, no matter how large or small will give a glimmer of hope that this wonderful family will resume being “the other family doctor” and return to their compassionate, quality pet care soon.