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The Last Windrow: Surgery has changed

A young man wearing a sky blue hat and surgical mask gently awoke me just as I was dreaming of toting three, brightly colored rooster pheasants from a freshly picked cornfield.

I was somewhat perturbed by being awoken at the height of one of the great pleasures in my life. I was coming out of the anesthetic used during my recent total right hip replacement. I know the young intern was only trying to see if I was still alive, but I was still miffed at his halting of my pleasant sojourn into a fall scene I have lived many times. “You’ve got a new hip,” he said excitedly. 

Yes, I have returned from the operating room where I was surrounded by people who looked like they were working on a super computer. Well, they probably were — me. But they were really doctors and nurses and aides completely covered top to bottom, who took me apart and put me back together again. I had received a new “wheel.” 

A body can take only so much abuse in 67 years and I’d been lucky to have escaped the surgeon’s knife except for having my tonsils and adenoids removed at the early age of 12. That surgery was done by a doctor who made weekly house calls to our farm on my ailing grandmother. He was a gentle soul who was paid both in cash and a chicken or two along with, no doubt, some pork chops and beef steaks. 

That surgery was much different than the one that I experienced a little over a week ago. Dr. Meyer rolled me into the operating room himself where only one nurse stood at the ready. I remember being placed under a large, reflective light and having an ether mask placed over my nose.

He told me to start counting backward from 100 and the last thing I remember was watching him as he flicked the ashes off his long cigar into the surgery sink. It was too late to get up and run and I awoke a few hours later with an ether hangover and no tonsils or adenoids. I show no lasting effects of that experience. God bless that man!

It was a different day last week. Most who have had surgery in today’s world know how careful the medical profession has become. At least in my case, there was not a stone left unturned from the time my hip was diagnosed as defunct to the time they wheeled me to my car after a short stint in the hospital. The doctors and nurses and aides all seemed to grasp the feelings of anxiety and foreboding that anyone has when they know they are entering a realm where things may go well and maybe things won’t go so well. Our next breath is not guaranteed. 

But, my experience was a good one. I’ll now, hopefully, be able to recover my gait, which has been missing in action for the past two years. Those walks in the woods and fields will no doubt be more appreciated after having gone missing in action over the past few years. I’ll perhaps be able to climb into a fishing boat without grimacing and groaning and my wife will once again have a partner on our walks down the sand road on those warm spring evenings. 

Going through the procedure I did does give one a different viewpoint in relation to being thankful for the human parts of us that do work. My bad hip saw me through years of baling hay, picking corn, hunting pheasants and catfishing along the Big Sioux River. That hip took abuse while catching my first trophy muskie and pulling one trophy buck deer out of the woods a few years ago. It deserved being replaced. It had earned it.

Now I hope the other hip holds out for the duration! 

And, I want you to know that you won’t have to worry about an ether hangover any longer. The “Dr. Meyers” of today have changed their ways. No more cigar ashes in the stainless steel sink. No more chickens or pork chops offered as partial payment. 

Things in the surgery room have changed! 

See you next time. Okay?