A new hip and a new outlook on worrying and patience
Mychal Wilmes has a new hip after a long-prolonged surgery. In his recuperation, he has been reminded of the need to not worry about things he can't control and the difficulty in finding patience in recovery.
A sturdy two-wheeled walker is a constant companion on trips around the house following right hip replacement surgery, which had been delayed through summer.
Kathy blamed putting it off on stubbornness and fear. I think it had something to do with an upbringing that held toughness in the face of injury a strong personality trait.
Mother handled injuries and illnesses with home remedies and a neighborhood woman — in addition to stern babysitting skills — was remarkably adept at cures for ear infections and colds.
I tossed and turned through the night knowing the doctor we’d meet the following day would recommend surgery. His advice could be ignored, but X-rays are impossible to refute.
“You can’t postpone it anymore," Kathy said while we waited in the doctor’s office. He made a convincing presentation, which was seconded by another professional.
“A hip replacement is much easier to deal with than a knee," she said while explaining that recuperation and rehabilitation will take a while. The operation involved a night’s hospital stay, pain pills and patience, which can be the rarest commodity of all.
“Don’t push yourself too hard," she added. “Let the pain tell you when to stop."
Kathy is not used to having a husband beneath her feet and certainly not one who makes demands about what ought to be done and when. The issue came to a head with the news that a frost advisory had been issued for our area.
The garden was mostly played out, although plenty of green tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers remained. Kathy carried blankets to the garden, picked tomatoes bearing an even hint of red, pulled weeds, and came back to the house tired and with a newfound confidence in her gardening abilities and questions about mine.
“You planted the onions so close together that they couldn’t grow big," she said with conviction. “Please don’t plant summer squash next year; I don’t like them."
An argument began and continued for far too long. It was silly, because the shelves in the basement are filled with canned fruits and vegetables — a bounty that is likely to last more than a season.
Just then the cellphone jiggled; it was Stanley, who was married and moved out of our parents’ house before I was born. Stanley, who is well into his 80s, and David, who is pushing 90, are like additional fathers to me. Stanley has battled cancer for several years and brother David has suffered tragedies that might have left lesser men sour on life and God.
Stanley, when asked how his treatments are going, always responds with “fine." David is as even keel a person as I’ve ever known. His philosophy, if it must be summed up, is “Don’t go making mountains out of molehills."
I’ve constructed quite a few mountains instead of comprehending that worry adds nothing to one’s life span.
Kathy is getting anxious for me to start rehabilitating the hip and, in pursuit of that, to become more a helper around the house. Years before, when we were newlyweds, she wanted a dishwasher installed in the house. With a cockeyed foolishness many new husbands possess, I said I would be the dishwasher for the rest of our lives.
I’ve kept the bargain — at least until a couple weeks ago.
“We could put a dishwasher right here," she said, while pointing to a small space in an already overcrowded kitchen.
There is no need, because soon enough I’ll handle the chore.
“You know," Kathy said, “Your left hip is as bad as your right one was. They’ll be replacing that one soon."
While that may be true, it’s best to take things slow. The future has a way of working itself out. The present — a wife weary of a husband constantly underfoot and a husband who feels a little bit useless — is challenging enough.
Mychal Wilmes is the retired managing editor of Agri News. He lives in West Concord, Minnesota, with his wife, Kathy.