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I, for one, am glad the Colfax Village Board has approved an agreement for the Colfax Rescue Squad to supply naloxone (brand name Narcan®) to the Elk Mound Police Department.
As Don Knutson, director of the rescue squad pointed out at the Colfax Village Board’s January 27 meeting, it is not only people with opioid addictions who can overdose and be brought back from the brink of death with the administering of naloxone.
Think of your grandmother, with a shoe box full of pills, who takes two kinds of pills too close together or takes too many of her pain pills, he said.
Or in my case — consider my best friend.
Debbie was bright, vivacious, funny, wicked smart and very talented. She could brighten your day just by walking into the room. She could take something mundane, like making grilled cheese sandwiches for supper, and turn it into an adventure.
And when your mother died when you were 26 years old, she knew what to say to comfort you because her own mother had died only two years earlier.
In her professional life, Debbie was in risk management. For fun, she liked to bake cakes. Not ordinary 9×13 cakes, but elaborate multi-tiered wedding cakes, anniversary cakes and specialty birthday cakes. One time I helped her bake a cake for the Wisconsin Walking Horse Association’s Halloween party. It was a replica of the farm where the party was being held.
Never mind risk management, Debbie could have made her living baking cakes.
One summer afternoon after my husband and I had moved back here, a package arrived by UPS. I hadn’t ordered anything, and I certainly had not ordered anything from the gallery listed as the sender.
Inside the package was a framed print of a little girl sitting on a Holstein cow out in a pasture.
When I was little girl growing up on our dairy farm west of Colfax, we had one very special cow who would let me sit on her back while she walked in from the pasture.
I called the gallery’s phone number to find out why they had sent me the print. “Your friend, Debbie, saw it and knew you had to have it. She wanted us to ship it to you as a surprise,” said the person who answered the phone.
Oh, yes. Debbie. Who else but Debbie, when she was out and about on her travels for risk management, would find a print of a little girl sitting on a cow and then arrange to have it shipped to the person she knew “had to have it?”
But along the way, Debbie also suffered with problems in her lower back. At times she was in so much pain, she could not find a way to get comfortable. She could not lie down or sit down or walk around.
Also along the way, Debbie moved back to her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. During all of the time I knew her, every once in a while, she would talk about Mike, her high school sweetheart, and how it had been the biggest mistake of her life not to marry him.
After she returned to Madison, she re-connected with Mike. And a couple of years later, they were married. Debbie was the most radiant I had ever seen her.
Two years after that, she had back surgery to try to relieve her debilitating pain. Her doctor sent her home from the hospital with morphine, and one afternoon, Debbie took some pain medication and went to their bedroom to lie down.
A couple of hours later, when she had not awakened yet, her husband went in to check on her — and Debbie was gone. She had died in her sleep.
Her death certificate listed the cause of death as “accidental overdose.”
Either Debbie took two doses too close together or took a dose, forgot she took it, and took another one.
Debbie died a little more than 10 years ago. If naloxone was available then, doctors certainly did not routinely subscribe it for people taking heavy-duty pain medication “just in case.”
If naloxone had been readily available then, Debbie might still be alive today.
The Colfax Rescue Squad and the Elk Mound Police Department are to be commended for their pro-active approach to making sure the Elk Mound Police Department has a ready supply of naloxone.
Rest in peace, Debbie.
Please know that we love you, and we miss you.
And please know that I still think about you almost every day.
LeAnn R. Ralph