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Changing Lives

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When we came to the fork in the trail it had just started raining. As Linda pulled the hood of her raincoat up she eyed the tracks ahead. 

“The one to the left will have us back to the car in ten minutes, the one to the right will be well over an hour.” I said. “How are you feeling?”

She said “Fine, let’s go this way,” and turned right. 

We were in a fairly dense conifer forest with a few openings but no expansive views. Even with the nearly closed canopy the rain was getting to the vegetation on the floor along with the rain gear we had on. Nikki, our dog, followed close behind. 

It was after dinner before we had headed out for a refreshing and stretching walk. Almost as an afterthought we grabbed jackets and stuffed them in a daypack. Since it was only a couple days after the summer solstice, light still filtered through the trees, even though it was well into evening. 

We had been out for about a half hour when we came to the junction in the trails so her decision, which is the one I had hoped she would make, added considerably to the overall walk. 

Not much was happing in the woods since the weather kept most animals and birds under protection. They, no doubt, wondered what the emergency must be for us to need to be out. 

It really was not an emergency but it was important that we walk. Linda had just had her right knee replaced two weeks before. This wasn’t the first walk since then but would prove to be the longest. 

Three-and-a-half years ago she had her left knee replaced, and it changed our lives. For a couple years she had no pain. It allowed for some very extensive hiking and snowshoeing, including several mountain hikes and camping trips in the Cabinets and the Coeur d’Alenes, as well as the Canadian Rockies. Rivers and streams had been crossed and she was victorious over some challenging elevations. In Hawaii she swam in the ocean and, with a granddaughter on her back, climbed to the top of Diamond Head. She covered the entire historical city of Williamsburg, Virginia while keeping up that same child. 

 I think the most important thing it let her do, pain free, was be a grandmother. Now, in September, there will another grandchild to keep up with.

For the last several months the right knee was giving her the same discomfort the first one had, so it was time to see the surgeon again. 

He told her that the first procedure had been quite difficult yet her recovery had been incredible. “That may not happen this time,” he said. “There is always a chance for complications.” 

Linda thanked him and said she knew that, and she knew he had to tell her that. 

Then she said, “I am going into this with the intention that it will go as well or better than the last one. And I want you to have that intention also.” 

He said he was “all in” with that attitude and they, once again, formed a partnership in her healing.

So the walks that we greeted summer with this year are slower and shorter then other summers, but each one had been a challenge that has been met with enthusiasm. 

The first one was a lap around the hospital room in late afternoon the day of the operation. Each one after has progressed until now we are back to walking in the woods we love so much. 

The trail had some steeper slopes, both up and down, than she had done post-op, yet still we trekked on. The only complaint was she did not feel comfortable looking up since there were so many roots in the trail. Finally, a half-mile from the car, our course leveled without as many obstacles to trip over and the pace picked up a bit. The rain did not let up and we marched on, feet getting wet from the grass, but in good spirits. 

Back at the car, Nikki jumped in and laid on her blanket. I started the fan to keep the windows from fogging and we peeled out of wet jackets. It had been a fun, good and challenging hike and Linda, once again, triumphed.  

Back home, ice was applied to the knee and ibuprofen helped with some soreness. She has not taken any other painkillers for several days—says she doesn’t need them. 

I checked Google Earth and calculated we had gone about two and quarter miles. That is not a long hike but, under the circumstances, it was a very successful trek that could very well change our lives.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

hiking, Linda, The Hawks Nest, grandparenting, knee surgery

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