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Down the Road

The hospital (oh great!)
By Milton M. Gross
Apr 6, 2014 - 12:30:05 AM

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It's been many years since I've gone to the hospital. But it may happen again this year.

The last time, my back. This time, my front -- not actually, but I liked the contrast in that. This time it will be for a hip -- a new one. A brand new one!

Lots of people have this done. The one's I've met seem fine.

But this time it will be my hip, not "lots of people's."

The first time, when I tried to get out of bed one spring morning, it hurt. It really hurt! I had no idea why it hurt. But it hurt, right down one leg.

I went to a doctor a friend recommended. The doctor offered me pills. For some reason, I didn't take them. Maybe I was a hippie -- no, I was teaching school. Maybe I was a communist -- no, I loved America pretty much the way she was. Maybe I was chicken. Yeah, that's it. I was chicken.

After all I lived near Belfast, which then was what I called a chicken-plucking capital.

Next I went to a bone snapper doctor. He yanked my leg, saying it was too short. Now I had the original pain plus a new one where he had yanked on my leg. Didn't need any more pain, so didn't go back.

Then I preached in a little church way over in Peru, Maine, guest speaker, you know the kind, the kind people listen to because he's not the regular preacher.

I don't remember what I preached. I do recall that an elderly lady approached me afterward and told me I needed a neurosurgeon. What the hecks a neurosurgeon? But I went home and looked one up. There was one in Belfast, who also worked at the hospital in Augusta. In about a minute, he told me I had a disc out of place in my back.

In the hospital, he weighed that ankle down and let it hang over the foot of the bed. In 15 minutes, I had felt it snap back into place. I was fine.

A day later I went home. The doctor said that if I was careful to stand straight, I could go back to life as normal, teaching rug rats, canoeing, carrying the canoe on my back, splitting wood, kicking the, he didn't recommend that, and I didn't do that. But I did the rest. The back's been fine since.

Then in the woods several years ago, my right leg slipped on an old rotten log. The pain came the next day. Friends called me Gimpy because of my limp. A year ago, Dolores told on my leg -- to our family physician. He X-rayed it and said my hip was wearing out -- Uncle Arthur had moved in.

I didn't like what the first hip surgeon told me. Then I heard of one at the hospital in Belfast, Dr. Owen Nelson. We visited him earlier this week, and he said he could replace that hip right off. Not sure what he meant by right off, but I liked the rest of it. He said I'd be out of the hospital in two or at the most three days. I don't like hospitals, so that sounded okay.

He said I'd have to use crutches or one of those walker doo dads I don't like the sound of. I think I'll go for the crutches.

This doctor "goes in" from the front -- the side if he needs more room to work. It heals faster this way, he said, adding that the same day as the operation, the nurses would have me up and walking -- limping?

Wow, the same day! I've been walking all my life. Don't want to quit doing that. The same day!

I'm kind of used to the pain. When I walk in the woods, my left leg leads the way and the right one kind of drags along behind. That's okay. But to actually walk again! Using both legs!

Dr. Nelson said that after the right leg was fixed, the left one would probably feel funny. Okay, what does he mean by funny? Doesn't matter. At least I'll be able to walk, keeping up with Dolores on those walks through the Belfast park alongside the ocean. Can't wait for those walks.

We found a motel at which Dolores can stay for that day or two.

Only one other problem. The cat. Who's going to take care of that cat.

He watches me type this and adds, "Yeah, who's going to take care of me?"

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013

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