I'm back! (Yet again ...) As I posted previously, I've been out of town for 2-plus weeks helping my father get back on his feet after knee replacement surgery. I'm more than pleased to report that he has set his walker aside, and is well on his way to a full recovery. In fact, he's done so well that he inspired this post. So, if you'll humor me, I'll share a bit of encouragement.
"We will either find a way or make one." - Hannibal
There are hills, and there are mountains. To overcome a hill in your path, you simply put one foot in front of the other, gradually navigating the subtle incline, and subsequent decline. Climbing a hill requires a little energy, and very little thought. A mountain in your path will not be overcome so easily.
"It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." - Sir Edmund Hillary
My father is a doer. If something needs done, he does it. Waiting is wasting. Suffice to say, patience is a virtue he's not mastered. He's a mechanic by trade, and by personality. If something is broken, fix it. It's as simple as that. Unfortunately, his 'fix it' personality applies to all things EXCEPT for his health.
Dad had been limping around on his bad knee for a couple of years. He was hobbled and in constant pain, but he was still able to take care of the farm, go to work, and otherwise function. He didn't have time for doctors. That was the case until a couple of months ago when the final ligament gave way, and the pain became more than he could endure.
"Yesterday, I dared to struggle. Today, I dare to win." - Bernadette Devlin
In the end, I don't believe that my father feared the surgery as much as he did the recovery. The prospect of weeks--maybe months--of rehabilitation terrified him. For someone who has probably asked for less than 5 things in his entire life, what would be done when even getting a glass of water would be beyond his ability? Still, something had to give or he'd be in a wheelchair soon.
My dad faced it with his typical doer attitude.
"How long will I be in the hospital post-surgery?" he asked.
"If everything goes well, 5-8 days," the doctor replied.
Dad shook his head. "I'll be home in 2 or 3."
I know the man, so I wasn't about to argue. However, I knew dad didn't quite understand the physical/anatomical implications of having your leg cut open, your joint taken out, and then replaced with a foreign metal object. Nerves would be severed, muscle cut, and a myriad of other issues would have to be overcome before he'd be able to use the leg normally.
The problem? He simply doesn't think the normal rules of science and anatomy apply to him, and why would he? I'm not boasting or joking when I say he'd missed less than 5 days of work in his life due to sickness. Other people needed to lay in bed and recover, not him.
"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." - Franklin Roosevelt
Post surgery, the surgeon stopped by to visit with us in the waiting room. He said dad had done inordinately well in surgery. He also commented that dad "must be a real tough dude" because the old joint was completely polished clean on the inside. He said he must have been walking on a knee with no ligament or cartilage protection for a long time, and that it was bone-on-bone.
Four days later, dad was back at home. (He just had to beat them by a day!) He was weak. He was in pain. He couldn't even go to the bathroom by himself. I know it was hard for him to let his youngest son help him dress, bathe, and take care of the day-to-day things. He got depressed, and confided that he wasn't sure he'd ever get back on his feet.
I knew dad was on the mend when he had me hold his walker while he climbed up into the cab of the tractor. I protested, admonished, and cursed at his stubbornness, but quietly, I marveled at his determination. He'd been home exactly one week, and it was time for him to get going, 20 or so staples in his knee be damned!
This Monday, almost 2 weeks from his surgery, I took dad to his first followup appointment with his surgeon. They removed his staples, told him he could get rid of his walker, and said he looked awesome. After the appointment, dad asked me to take him to the hospital so he could show the nurses how well he was doing and say thank you. I kid you not, I saw jaws hit the floor when the little 67 year old man they'd sent home barely walking the week before came sauntering in with no walker, and very little limp. Dad said his thank you and goodbye.
I left for home the next day realizing that my time of being able to help him without an all out fight was at an end. I've never been so proud, and inspired, in all my life.
"You can do what you have to do, and sometimes, you can do it even better than you think you can." - Jimmy Carter
I realize this was a long post, and I apologize. However, I wanted to share dad's story with all of my fellow writers. This is a craft that demands determination, willpower, and the ability to completely disregard the bounds of good sense. If you think it can't be done, it won't. If you believe you'll fail, you will. If you ignore your dreams, they'll fade.
We can all overcome the hills, but it takes something special to climb the mountains in our path. So today ...
Be courageous. Be inspired. Be determined.