Hometown Boy by Duane Dailey
column in The Mirror, December 31, 2014
Recovering from open-heart surgery is easy compared to repairing a broken leg. Wouldn't seem that way, but I can testify.
With heart surgery, it didn't take long to overcome the man thing. I soon found I could not care for myself. The most basic necessities of life were beyond my skills. I mean everything.
With only a leg break, I am not allowed total care. My offending appendage was put into a hard cast and I was sent home. That made sense to me. I can take care of myself.
Not long later I began to have an inkling, slight as it was, that I might not be in total control of my life. Yes, I had a walker that gives me mobility. Until you use one, you can't realize that you have lost use of one leg and two hands.
A walker allows hobbling about. That's it. Your hands can't carry what you need. Or, allow you to use what you need once you get there.
In heart recovery you are tied to a hospital bed with tubes, wires, and monitors. You know immediately you are not mobile. You have nothing needed nearby. All must be brought to you and done for you. A man gives up quickly and adores what care givers do.
This free-range recovery is a bit too rustic for me. I am a mobile, helpless man. Fortunately, there are women in this world who recognize this in an instant. And against all good commonsense they came to the aid of a helpless one-legged man.
My duahter took charge after heart surgery, when I was sure I could care for myself after the hospital. She was not going to leave town until I was committed to a care center. They had met men like me, before.
This time Janet gave instructions from afar. I am a bit more adept at listening now.
There is a special place in Heaven I am sure for Church Ladies. One opened a spare bedroom for me. Others provided things I did not know I needed, including a shower seat.
Then carry-in food arrived. Followed by calls of support and offers of help.
From my office it was not a Church lady, but a working journalist who knows what a hard-headed working writer needs. Electronic devices with power cords and chargers soon arrived, followed by working files of stories in progress. And, mail and all those newspapers.
Then reality hit. I needed help returning to the Emergency Room for stronger narcotics. Meanwhile, my daughter sent orthopedic-nurse ideas from Florida.
First get pain under control. Don't play tough man. Take enough pain pills, she says. "The longer in pain, the longer the recovery."
Work on getting swelling down. Swelling causes pain. That means getting fluids away from injured joints.
"Keep those toes above your nose." Her mantra helps my heart move blood back up hill. What an education I get in basic body repair.
The surgeon gives hope of freedom in three weeks. Reality comes from my daughter who cares for codgers in Florida. "Six weeks," she says. "You're an old man." Babies heal in a week. Three-year olds heal in three weeks. An old man takes longer.
After a full week, lessons sink in.
Now I adjust to practical needs. Order is brought to my life. Besides, I lack pep to cause too much trouble. I think.
I am a man of many clutters, reading and clipping newspaper stories.
Then I arrive in a household of ultra-order. No piles of clippings showing before I came, an early riser in a house of three late sleepers.
My life reaches sock-drawer order. Everything is in place. What a concept. I think I can survive a broken leg; maybe even order in my life.
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