It was this past July 1st and Cheryl Teems decided to go for a horseback ride outside her rural home located just south of Blue Earth.
She saddled up one of her two horses, a former racehorse named Dozer that she had owned for two years and spent countless hours training.
It was getting to be near dusk when she rode on the gravel road near her home and passed a wooded area.
Cheryl Teems’ goal was to be recovered from her accident by the time of her son, Taylor’s wedding to Cali, above. Left to right are Trevor, Mark, Cheryl, Cali and Taylor Teems.
She tells what happened next this way.
"As we rode by the trees Dozer stopped and sniffed the air," she says. "Something in the woods spooked him. I calmed him down and we continued on, but when we came back down the road, he did the same thing. Only this time he was terrified."
Teems says she heard a combination growl and scream come from the woods (she firmly believes now it was a bobcat) and Dozer took off for home as fast as he could go. The horse stumbled and the saddle turned sideways. Teems was thrown violently to the ground. She hit the road hard in a 3-point landing on her face and two hands.
She doesn't remember a lot after that. She was knocked out cold.
What happened next is close to being miraculous, she says
Instead of racing to the barn and his safe stall, Dozer stopped in front of the Teems' living room window. Inside, Mark Teems was relaxing and watching TV.
"He saw the horse come back without me," Cheryl Teems says. "He knew something was wrong."
Mark Teems raced out of the house without shoes and found Cheryl in the road. He knew immediately it wasn't good. His wife was crumpled up, covered in blood and was unconscious.
He suddenly realized he hadn't brought his cell phone. So, he reached for hers that is usually clipped on her belt, but it wasn't there. After a quick search, he found it on the road about 20 feet away.
He called 911 for help.
Then he took off his shirt and wrapped it around Cheryl's bloodied head. He sat her up and talked to her.
"Mark was on the fire department for 22 years," Cheryl says. "He's been to lots of train and car accidents. He had it totally together; he kept calm and cool." The Blue Earth Ambulance and EMTs arrived on the scene. One of the EMTs was Teems' good friend Bonita Zimmer. Cheryl Teems had served on the ambulance squad for 12 years with her.
"We took EMT class together," Teems recalls. "It was great to have her be the one to come help me."
When she got to United Hospital's emergency room, another friend was her nurse in the ER Brenda Anderson.
"I thought I was in pretty good shape, just bloody, but head wounds will bleed a lot," Teems says. "But, when I saw them (EMTs, nurses and doctors) I knew I didn't look good. They looked at me with 'that' look the look of concern."
Teems was not in good shape.
She had ended up with a severely crushed right wrist. She had also broken her left wrist. She had broken two bones in one foot and dislocated two toes in the other.
"Actually," she says, "the dislocated toes hurt more than the broken bones."
The worst was her face. She had a laceration that went from one side to other, from eyebrow to eyebrow and across her nose. And then the skin had peeled back up over her forehead.
She knew it was bad because her friends Bonita and Brenda had told her to get a plastic surgeon first thing.
She had surgery on her face the next morning, July 2. On July 5 it was another surgery where a plate with eight screws and a cadaver bone were put into one wrist, and casts put on both arms."I still thought I probably looked alright," she recalls. "Until I finally looked at myself in the hospital room bathroom mirror. It was a shock."
A picture of her - face stitched up, huge black eyes and both arms held up in casts - was posted on Facebook, much to her embarrassment. The photo was titled, "Bride of Frankenstein."
"I think my younger son, Trevor did that," she says. "It spread around Facebook pretty fast."
With both arms in casts, Cheryl discovered that she was basically helpless and could do nothing for herself.
"My wonderful husband had to take care of me like a baby," she says. "And that included feeding me and, well, everything else."
Mark would joke to others about that vow he took on their wedding day, "for better or for worse." This must be the worse part, he would say with a laugh.
But because Mark had a full-time job with the county highway department, Cheryl asked a Maple River teacher friend, Maggie Robbins, to come care for her during week days while Mark was at work.
"I couldn't even scratch my nose when it itched," Cheryl says. "She took wonderful care of me. I owe her a lot, but when I thank her, she just blows it off and says it was no big deal."
Cheryl had a goal during her recovery period. Her older son, Taylor, was getting married in September.
"I told the doctors and therapists that I had to be at that wedding and I better look good," she recalls. "And I better be in good shape."
She accomplished the goal. People attending the wedding could not believe her miraculous recovery.
"The biggest thing I want to say is about how wonderful people are in a small town like Blue Earth," she says. "Our friends rallied around me. They brought food to our house for six weeks. They did things for us, anything we needed done. You find out how good your friends are at a time like this."
The other point Teems makes is about what she calls her miracles.
"It is a miracle that Dozer didn't go to the barn and instead went where Mark could see him from the house," she says. "That horse was terrified, he should have gone to his safe home."
Another miracle was she didn't break her neck with the way she fell. Her doctors were surprised at that. Her two broken wrists maybe prevented a more serious broken neck or back.
It was a miracle she wasn't hit by a car as she laid unconscious and almost unseen in the middle of a busy road at nightfall. It was another miracle that her husband found her so fast before she went into shock or bled to death.
"I call him my hero," she says, "but he jokes it off. Actually, I really mean it. I always knew he was a good guy but he really is my hero now. I can't imagine how he felt when he found me on the road, but he stayed so calm and rescued me."
Everyone asks her two questions, Teems says. What happened to the horse, and, is she still going to ride again.
"I sold Dozer back to his original owner," she says. "But it really had nothing to do with the accident. I just decided I needed a smaller horse. But, yes, I am riding again. Just being pretty careful about it."
She is shocked when people ask if she put the horse down.
"He just reacted to danger," she says. "And besides, just like Lassie always did, he actually went and got help."
Cheryl says she got Dozer when he had blown out a tendon and was possibly going to be put down. She saved his life and now she believes he returned the favor and saved hers.
One could certainly say that was a miracle.