Just this past week, we had a scary situation happen with our family. It is all too common in the farming community; and often we do not take the symptoms seriously.
    My husband, Duane, had a small hernia surgery Aug. 20. It was an out-patient surgery.
    “Don’t do any heavy lifting, but you can continue to drive tractor, feed cows and carry on as usual.”    
    There was some surgical glue by his naval that would come out. Watch for any redness, swelling, heat or oozing of fluids. That was all good and well.
    I lifted the 50 pound bags of dry cow mineral into the bucket of the tractor while he was mixing feed. He was able to chop corn silage. He was walking a little slower but still getting around.
    Duane was having some abnormal pain in his lower back and leg a few days after the surgery. After laying on the hard surgery table for over one hour in an abnormal position things were out of whack.
    He went to the chiropractor a few times but was not satisfied. He found walking difficult, like his hip was having issues. He made an appointment to be seen by another doctor, but the appointment was not for a while.
    He began to talk like his body was falling apart. His hip might need to be replaced. After all, he has farmed since he was little. Feeling the pain more and more, taking over the counter pain relievers as needed, he kept going.
    We all giggled when he complained, because he was acting like he was very old instead of only 56. When he was around others, he did not limp or complain, so we thought he was using us as a sounding board.
    On Friday night, when we went out for a fish fry, he did not order fish. Instead, just a salad bar because he said he did not feel good. We did not pay any attention. We all had a good time.
    The next morning at 7:30, Duane still had not gotten out of bed. He was not feeling good. I looked at his belly, and there was a bright red spot around his naval, his stomach was very pink and had fluid coming out. I knew something was wrong.
    I found the phone number to call for information. The staff recommended we go to the urgent care clinic.
    Well, we could go there, but first he had to feed the cows. Cows come first, and then we would go after he showered.
    The wait at the clinic was much longer than expected. We sat and watched as people who came in after us went before us. One had a small bump on her forehead that seemed to have grown bigger, another was looking like his leg was hurt and others in between. We waited and each had a little cup of water.
    When we finally saw the physician, she looked wide eyed at his stomach and then listened to Duane about his surgery last month. She said we needed to get to the emergency room. She would call ahead so we would not have to wait.
    I drove to the emergency room, and Duane walked himself in while I parked the car. He was already with the doctors when I arrived. The staff gave me a visitor sticker, and I sat by him in a back room while he waited to be seen.
    Hospital staff came in and went out. They checked his blood pressure, heart rate and did blood work. The doctor diagnosed him with an infection and possible abscess that needed to be taken care of. Later on, a surgeon stopped by to see him. He asked when he ate last. Well, nothing since the night before, only a small glass of water.
    That was the key to getting him into surgery. As the day went into the evening, it was decided that after surgery Duane would have to stay a day in the hospital to make sure all went well.
    On Sunday, I had to go in early to watch how to clean and pack the incision. We were walking out of the hospital before noon. We were lucky. We got to the hospital and were able to receive the care needed to take care of what was going wrong.
    We have lost two friends in farming because they did not go to the hospital when they were not feeling right.
    The doctors and surgeon both said farmers need to be taken seriously when they come in to be seen. Farmers keep pushing themselves to the limit. Unfortunately, many farmers cannot pull themselves away from the farm to get the needed care in time.
    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.