The doctor said hemorrhaging outward saved my life

William Frederick Griebel (Bill) was a homesteader on the Musselshell River in Montana during the 1918 flu pandemic.

After harvesting his potato crop, along with his neighbor’s crop (they were down with the flu), he also became ill in early February. Bill still wanted to work, so he took the stage to Melstone. His wife hoped that by him going away his family would remain healthy. When he arrived at Melstone he was so sick that the was told to go to the pharmacy. He noticed that all the chairs were turned upside down. He almost fainted and they took him to the hotel that had been set up as a hospital. He woke 5 days later.

After he had been in the hospital 10 days when he suddenly coughed and blood spurted from his nose and mouth. The doctor said that this saved his life, as most people “had their hemorrhage inwardly and which got into their lungs and smothered them.”

After 14 days in the hospital Bill was still so weak that putting on a shirt was a major ordeal. A few days later, as he was on his way to recovery, he was moved into another room. The patient who took his place passed away that night and William thought it might have been him that died if he hadn’t leave that room, although he wrote in his autobiography that it was a silly idea.

Over a month after he first became ill, when the bells rang to celebrate the Armistice ending World War I, he was still too weak to walk up and down stairs, but instead had to sit on the stairs and take each step one at a time.

He was finally able to go home, but was still very weak. He probably pushed himself too hard on the journey home, as he relapsed and it took him seven weeks to recover from that.

Bill wrote his autobiography, which was published by his grandson. Grand-daughter Judith Griebel Huck shared this story and Lori Lyn Price has edited it for the purpose of this blog. Judith’s father was born in 1920, so she is grateful that Bill and his wife, who had a much milder case, survived.

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