The healing power of ballroom dancing

Jim Carter of Duluth makes his living in a risky business. He repairs high-pressure leaks in pipes.

But it was a trip to a local farm to buy some buffalo meat in 2013 that almost did him in.

Nitro, a 2,000-pound herd bull, had sneaked through a gate and when Carter and the farm’s owner went to get some feed to coax him back to his pen, Nitro went to work, the Duluth News Tribune’s John Lundy says.

“He stuck his big head down right here, and he gored me right here,” Carter related, pointing under his right thigh. “And his horn went in, exploded my femoral artery, hit my femur, traveled all the way up from my femur to my pelvis.”

Carter regards it as a miracle that the horn didn’t penetrate farther than it did. Instead, the bull tossed him into the air. He landed next to the buffalo.

Carter was alive and conscious but in serious trouble. The femoral artery is the second-largest artery in the body. Carter didn’t know exactly what had happened, but he knew he didn’t have much time.

Carter was bleeding to death until the farm owner recalled reading something about a University of Minnesota surgeon who advised his students to stick their fingers in a wound to stop bleeding.

That’s how Don Solwood saved Carter’s life.

Doctors took over at the hospital and thought Carter would lose his leg. They told him he’d probably be in a wheelchair.

Carter didn’t want to be in a wheelchair, Lundy writes. So he took over his recovery.

His right leg was mangled and he couldn’t move it.

He joked to a friend that since he couldn’t ski anymore, he’d try dancing instead.

A friend suggested that wasn’t such a bad idea.

Carter didn’t just learn to dance; he learned to dance competitively. A year after he started, he won a first in the student division at the Snow Ball, a national dance competition in the Twin Cities, [teacher Andrea] Kuzel reported. She learned from the organizers that they knew nothing of his back story.

“I am so, so, so proud of how far he’s come,” she said of her student. “I wish everybody could have that positive attitude and that can-do attitude.”

About Kuzel, Carter said, “She taught me how to walk.”

“I think ballroom dancing could heal the world,” she said. “Honestly, it could create world peace. Because you can’t have a dance class and leave unhappy.”

The News Tribune’s video is not to be missed.

  • Barton

    wow. What a nice story. I am reminded, however, of the story of the Dutch boy who stuck his finger in a dyke to stop the flooding. Seems to work for arteries too.

  • jon

    High pressure pipes… Plugging up a severed artery…
    There is a pun there, but I can’t put my finger on it.

    • X.A. Smith

      Try putting your finger IN it.

  • Katia

    “had sneaked” made me cringe a little bit although I know it’s grammatically correct.

  • X.A. Smith

    I have to say that I HAVE left a dance class unhappy, but this is a better story than mine.