My husband, Duane, had been hunched over, hobbling around all summer. He was having pain that was triggered by driving the skidloader. Climbing in and out was challenging, but the part that really caused problems was the machine doesn’t have any shocks to absorb the ride. Cleaning out pens, hauling big bales and driving over rough ground messed with his back and hip. Afterward, he would be flinching as he walked to the house to get off of his feet and recline in his chair. He spent hours, after taking pain relievers, to try to get relief from the searing pain that shot up from his hip to his back.
    As farmers, we all seem to wait until we cannot stand the pain any longer before we seek out medical attention. What started off as pain in his hip was later diagnosed as arthritis. Just as his father had arthritis, he was saddened to hear that arthritis was in his hip and back. He could see on the X-ray the white spots where it was surrounding his spine and in his hip socket. Pain would be with Duane for the rest of his life. The doctor recommended a shot of cortisone. It helped for a while. His daily routine was carried out again for a few months.
    As the long days of corn harvest rolled in, he continued pushing himself to the limit. Duane’s hip began to act up again. He was not comfortable standing, sitting, laying and could not sleep. He was taking over-the-counter pain pills to sleep and more to make it to lunch and again to get through feeding the cows. Climbing in and out of the loader tractor and into the tractor with the mixer, then back again, over and over. Now it seemed everything was triggering his suffering.
    Duane went back to get another cortisone shot, but the X-ray showed that his hip was grinding bone on bone, and it needed to be replaced or resurfaced. The surgery was scheduled for late November. It was pushed back so all of the corn would be in the bins and harvest would be complete.
    As the date got nearer, all the machinery got pressure washed and parked in the sheds. I rode with Duane while he was mixing feed to get his routine down so I could cover for him while he took time off to heal. Then his surgery got canceled because of COVID-19.
    COVID-19 was the hospital’s priority. We didn’t know if the hospital was full of patients suffering from the pandemic, or if staff was infected, or what the reasoning was. We just knew it was going to be delayed, pushed back to Dec. 15 at 7 a.m. Duane would be dealing with this pain a little longer than he had hoped for. He continued to mix feed and retreat to the house after being tortured by the discomfort.
    The date came up quickly. We were so busy making sure everything was set for his eight weeks of recovery. Duane made sure all of the tractors were full of fuel, the bag and bulk mineral was all ordered, QLF was full, all so I would be fine mixing feed for a while.
    The early morning of Dec. 15, Duane got up at 4 to mix a double load of feed for all of the cows, dry cows and heifers, so I could stay at the hospital with him all day.
    We were greeted by a hospital employee to take our temperature at the door and were quickly escorted to a room to get Duane registered. Then we were off to a room for him to get out of his clothes and into a hospital gown. Within minutes, the doctor spoke a little bit about the surgery, and shortly after the anesthesiologist came in and asked questions regarding if there were past reactions. A nurse put in an IV, and off he went to get his hip resurfaced. I received two text messages during surgery letting me know all was going well, and he was rolled into his private room by a couple of nurses at a little after 1 in the afternoon. Still a little out of it, he was rambling on, talking nonsense and was going in and out of sleep. By 3 p.m., the doctor visited again, and the anesthesiologist came by too. Nurses and therapists kept a close eye on him, anticipating when he was going to be getting up for a walk.
    I was amazed at how quickly they all got him up and going. Duane did a lap with his walker around the nurse’s station at 7 p.m. and again at 9. My orders were to come back the next day at noon to watch the therapist assisting Duane with his exercises, get his prescriptions schedule and take him home for the rest of his recovery. The dates for therapy, appointments and phone numbers to call were highlighted. We were told to call if we have any questions or concerns. All of the important information is tucked in a folder for quick and easy access. Duane will just need time to heal and recover to finally be pain-free.
    Tina Hinchley, her husband, Duane, and their daughters, Anna and Catherine, milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2,300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin.  They have been hosting farm tours for over 20 years.