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November 20, 2012 8:51 am

The Amend Corner: Thanks for everything

Written by Don Amend

Basically, I’ve had a pretty easy life.

I haven’t had too many real troubles over the 68.58 years since 1944. I’ve had a happy childhood and a good marriage that included some really nice in-laws and brought two kids, neither of which ever had to be bailed out of jail. Best of all, the two of them have given me the four smartest grandchildren in the galaxy.

I had a long, mostly pleasant teaching career, and when it was over, I moved seamlessly into another career. Most of what I thought were troubles over the years were, in retrospect, pretty minor.

Not bad for a guy with no charisma, charm, athletic ability or good looks.

So, for nearly six decades now, Thanksgiving has been a no-brainer. I was just thankful for everything.

But the last 12 months, my life seems to be trying to make up for lost time.

It began last November, when I lost my youngest brother. Like anyone else, I have had to say goodbye to many friends and family members over the years, but Jeff’s death was different. He was the first of the six siblings in my father’s branch of the clan to die, and since I’m the oldest, it reminded me that my clock is ticking.

I was reminded again in February when a terrific pain in my back sent me to the emergency room and to Billings for emergency surgery. In the aftermath, I became, for all practical purposes, a shut-in, as pain and weakness made it impossible to stand up for more than a few minutes or even sit up at the table long enough to eat breakfast. Attending a concert or play, even attending church, left me unable to do much of anything for a day or two afterward, and I had to leave my job at the Tribune.

I face additional surgery, which may or may not solve my problems, and have taken three trips to the Mayo Clinic to discuss that surgery. The trips introduced me to the worst of Homeland Security — which seems to list guys in wheelchairs or back braces as particularly dangerous security threats who have to be thoroughly checked for bombs — and to the joys of the MRI. The trips also revealed a complication, osteoporosis, which requires an expensive medicine and delayed the needed surgery.

To add to my adventures, my wife and I were hit by a truck near Ralston in April and an abscessed tooth sent me to the dentist’s chair for an extraction in July.

Well, that’s the highlights. I won’t bother you with all the details.

Still, when I look back on the year, I have the same feeling I’ve had every year. God has been good to me and I can be thankful for everything.

I can be thankful that the ER team in Powell got me on a plane to Billings without delay, and the surgeon at St. Vincent’s recognized what was causing my problem in time to limit damage to my spinal cord. The nurses and therapists at St. Vincent’s treated me with just the right balance of encouragement and scolding to get me ready to come home, something also worthy of Thanksgiving.

I’ll also be giving thanks for the staff at Powell Valley Healthcare’s therapy department, whose approach to their jobs took me from being barely able to lift a tennis ball to managing my own therapy three times a week. Thanks to them, I can stand up longer, walk farther, sit at the table for dinner and attend church. Their cheery approach to their job has also been good for my mental health.

And on the subject of medical care, I’m sure thankful for Medicare.

I have found that I have made more friends in Powell since I moved here a decade ago than I thought, and I’m thankful for those who have encouraged me, prayed for me and offered their help.

I am thankful for the Lady Panther swimmers and their coaches for greeting me so enthusiastically when I managed to attend a meet. The smiles that some of the girls greeted me with that afternoon almost made me cry, and really lifted my spirits.

The same goes for the girls down at Uncommon Grounds, who are always glad to see me.

On Thursday, I’ll especially remember my colleagues at the Tribune for being happy to see me when I drop by and for scolding me when I don’t. They say they miss me, and it must be true, because lately they seem to be looking for ways to make me work, asking me to write editorials and even assigning me to take a photo. From the beginning they have told me that there will always be a place for me at the Tribune.

Finally, I am thankful for my wife’s nifty driving during our accident that kept our car on the pavement and brought it to a safe stop with the wheels on the ground, and for the Billings technician who made the brace that probably saved me from at least minor injuries.

Well, there is more, but I’m running out of space, and anyway, it’s bedtime, so I’ll close.

Last week, my surgery was set for February, almost exactly a year after the first operation. I’m not sure how things will turn out, but a year from now, I expect to have lots to be thankful for again.

Hope you do, too. Happy Thanksgiving.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link January 01, 2013 5:20 am posted by lisa

    I wish I had a outlook on life like you.i have 5 blown disks in my back t2..l3.4.&5 and s1 on top of that I have a bad arm and can not work I wish you the best on your sugery


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