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The Last Windrow: A new appreciation for those suffering a handicap

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I have gained a new appreciation for those among us who have somehow developed a handicap along life’s pathway. Not that I didn’t know that there are many challenges to be faced by those among us who have had some malady that takes a part of their physical ability away. I know that.

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But, most of my readers know that eight weeks ago I underwent a total right hip replacement. I’m not looking for sympathy here, but after eight weeks of coming out from under the knife, I’ve been thinking of the process and what it has meant to me.

There was a day when, without a thought, I jumped up on a tractor’s drawbar, up into the seat, shoved the machine in gear and drove off to the field with a three-bottom plow trailing behind. I did this without a thought. My legs were strong and it felt good to put the muscles to good use.

There was a day when I sidled along a steep bank of a swiftly flowing Big Sioux River without ever a thought of slipping into the depths. Even though I couldn’t swim a stroke, there was no thought of the danger in front of my farm boots. I had ultimate confidence in my body’s ability to compensate for any misjudgment.

Those were heady days when no aches or pains reached my brain. I took stairsteps at two steps at a time, jumped three feet off the flatrack to unplug the hay baler, ran to the front of a runaway herd of feeder calves to steer them back into their corral. The body was working at full tilt.

Years of abuse have no doubt taken some, if not all, of those abilities away, and that meant that just eight weeks ago I found myself being wheeled into an operating room where nearly a pound of titanium was inserted into my frame in the form a new hip joint. I’m here to tell you it was a good move!

But, after the surgery comes the recovery and I became familiar with all the gizmos that go along with after-surgery care. I had a shower chair, a gripper, a sock puller-on-er, a walker and finally a cane. You need all these things to get you back to square one.

I am now in the cane stage and will eagerly see the return of all the other aids that I have acquired to the places from whence they came. I borrowed a four-legged cane from my dad and it has stood me in good stead. I call it my “four-on-the-floor,” “four-wheel drive” cane. That usually gets a chuckle at the local coffee cafe.

I have also noticed that when I climb out of my car with that cane in hand, I get attention I never received before. The other day I had a young lady hold the door of the post office open for me. The postmistress offered to tote a heavy box of brochures out to my car for me. I had a guy pull out of his parking space in front of the cafe just to give me closer access. My wife has warned me not to do anything too strenuous outside our home.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I may just ride this cane bit as far as the horse will trot!

Not to negate the situations of any of my friends who have no choice other than use of some device that allows them to live a halfway normal life, but I’m thinking I might just hang onto this cane as long as no one gets suspicious that I’m actually healed.

I am healing, day by day, and the result of the surgery was well worth the discomfort and anxiety that went along with it. There was a day when I would have never thought of having to use an aid to walk across the landscape. That day is gone.

And, I have a new appreciation for how those who suffer some handicap and how they are helped by those who don’t know them on any level. That, my friends, is a good feeling!

See you next time. Okay?

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