Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm Hip

It’s a great morning to do a little thinking and wondering. I’m not letting Libya and Syria get in my way; for I’m thinking more of olden times and how lucky I was to grow up with a great old man.
by Charlie Leck

It’s just before sunrise as I write this. The sky in the East, out over the trees and just outside my treetop study is pale blue in color – it’s a devastatingly beautiful shade of color that I don’t think I could reproduce even with the power of today’s magical computers. There’s a little sliver of moon riding the sky; and down toward the horizon it all evolves into a pale white color that then melts into a blaze of orange and red.

I’m trying to quiet my soul after getting in a pretty bad lather yesterday. A stray dog – a German Shepherd – got into the sheep pastures on Monday and gruesomely killed 8 young ewes and seriously wounded a few others. I felt awfully sorry for my wife. She works so hard on this farm, bringing these critters to life and then so carefully raising them. It’s more than a big financial loss for her. She is personally invested in these animals. I wanted to call the owner and give her a huge piece of my mind; but my wife was calm and understanding.

“It’s an animal,” she told me, “and they have instincts and don’t understand what they’re doing.”

Well, don’t misunderstand me. She’s not a saint. She called the local police and reported the incident and found out she could have the dog shot if it returned to our pastures.

The mellow sky is helping me relax. My hip is burning up with pain. The more I can relax, the less it hurts. Replacement surgery is scheduled for a few weeks from now.

Our high tech world continually blows me away. I’ll get rid of this pain in a few weeks and I’ll own a new and extraordinary hip. I’ve been through it before. Six years ago, my left hip was replaced.

I think of my father and the aches and pains he endured in his later life. For him, there was no such technology to help out. My sister-in-law and I have talked about how my dad used to swear in his sleep. He cussed in a way that actually frightened us a bit. She would stay over occasionally when her guy, my brother, was stationed over in Germany with the military. She’d be awaked by a stream of cuss words that issued from the mouth of my dad who was in the room right next to hers. In the morning she’d ask me what that was all about. Back then I didn’t understand.

Now, as I approach the age at which he died, I think about how much more fortunate I am than he was. He worked long, long days on his feet and I can only imagine how his knees and hips were probably killing him. Now, as I await the replacement of this rotted hip, I awake at night feeling stabbing, pretty torturous pain. I hear myself cuss pretty nastily. I think of him, 50 years ago, kept awake by the stabbing pain. I take deep, slow breaths and allow my body to relax as completely as possible. The pain subsides.

Joint replacement technology is incredible. It’s expensive, but Medicare makes it possible even for those who could never afford it. It’s one of the great gifts of our society – something that legislators got right back there during Lyndon Baines Johnson’s time in the White House. Health and freedom from pain, when it is possible, is a right every citizen of the world should have. If we can afford billion dollar explorations of the heavens, we certainly can afford such guarantees for all people.

The moon is gone now. The sky has brightened to a gradient of blue and white. Sunlight sparkles out there on the limbs and branches of the bare trees. My hip hurts as I write, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, so I don’t get too rattled by the stabbing pain.

I sure wish some pain management procedures had been around for my old man! I have a great deal more understanding and sympathy for him now.


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  1. We are lucky. I've benefited from advances in medical science which were not available to my Pop. Not available to others even today. I wish you the best!

  2. My brother had his hip done and he is mobile. Sorry to hear about Anne's sheep. We had a similar experience years ago with our sheep - a neighbor's German Shepard jumped the fence (high snow allowed that) and in short order our nicest Columbian ewe who was carrying twins was torn apart. My mother saw the dog jump in and saw a few sheep run to the side of the barn. She called us at work, but the damage was done and the dog left - perhaps the horses scared him from the rest of the sheep. We were new to the neighborhood and didn't know Bob Meyer at that time. We told him what happened and told him he could check the dogs mouth (wool sticks for a couple days in the back molars). He called later that evening and asked if we called the rendering truck. We said yes. He told us to send it to his house and he would take care of the bill - he also had a dog for them to pick up. Once a dog gets the taste - they will be back. Bob was the best neighbor we ever had and I miss him still.