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Thursday, May 5, 2016

'Where's Gus?'

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gus and Marybeth Erickson have much to smile about as the last year has been difficult for both of them. They enjoyed the open house Fareway recently hosted for Gus. Photo by Nancy Hohbach
Beloved Cherokee meat cutter fights for his life

Gus Erickson of Cherokee is truly a people's butcher.

Let me explain. It should be known that this reporter is a daughter of a butcher who certainly knew his meat and made sure the best was cooked in our home. Now you will know why I appreciate Gus.

Over the years I found Fareway's meat department one of my favorite places to purchase meat for our table. We give credit to Gus for that. I'd ask him the difference between various cuts of roasts or steaks or any information on what was what. Not only would he share what was what but also how to cook it and give me suggestions in order to produce a tender meat for our family to eat. We sincerely appreciated his generosity of time and effort on our behalf.

Not only that but if I was reluctant to buy a particular item due to cost, he would mention that perhaps next week would be a better time. It might be on sale then and I would go on to select something else. We respected his talents, consideration and kindness.

About a year ago, we started missing seeing Gus behind the counter. Where was he? After several times of asking, we would be informed he was ill and it would be a while before he returns.

In visiting recently with Gus, he said, "June 15 was my anniversary date when my health started taking a big dive. I had had a persistent cough that wouldn't stop. I was getting ready to go to work that morning when I had an awful time getting my breath and doubled over. I had my wife take me to hospital immediately. She dropped me off at the emergency door and I couldn't hardly speak. I leaned over when they came out and helped me in. I learned fluid was building up on my chest. I spent a week in Cherokee hospital. Took medication."

"A heart specialist from Sioux City had tests performed such as an ultra sound which showed arteries plugged. Doctors conferred and decided the best place for me to be was in the Mayo Clinic at Rochester. They made an appointment for me early in September and that's when I learned only one-fourth of my heart was working. After two days of testing they were ready to proceed with open heart surgery with a triple by-pass. They took five veins out of the calf of one leg and four in the other leg."

Gus reported that he was plenty sore but didn't suffer from pain. He also learned while there that they have over 100 cardiologists that are highly specialized. He found great comfort in knowing he was at the best medical facility. For three weeks he stayed there while mending. But he wasn't done yet.

"Thats when a gastroenterologist came in and said they thought I was ready for exploratory surgery on the lower half of my body. They opened my body half way down the front for the heart. Now they would do the rest and go through it all. They laid my intestines out. They found my gall bladder needed to come out. I was intensive care for another three weeks. I couldn't keep food down. I had a breathing tube and it just seem to go on and on. I had the best care and the one nurse stayed with me throughout it all. We really appreciated all their kindness. "

One piece of advice Gus had for everyone is to have their cholesterol regularly checked.

About three months ago, Gus had a pacemaker and a defibrillator placed in his chest. He will be going back up in another month for a check-up of sorts on that piece of equipment to make sure it is doing the job right. He is feeling much better but hopes for more strength as time passes as he wants to do things which requires some lifting. Right now he is limited to eight pounds.

He had nothing but kind words for Fareway and is appreciative of their support. His medical costs add up to around $700,000. He hopes to add 20 pounds and he'll be ready to go.

Gus added, " I miss seeing and visiting with my customers. I know many by first names only. The were supportive and good friends across the counter. I play guitar and like to ride in cars. I take it one day at a time as it keeps improving. My wife is my main supporter and don't know what I'd do without her. We don't take our health for granted anymore."

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