I have fallen, but I will get up

Writer’s note: Friends, As a public personality for decades, I am always reluctant about sharing about any of my health concerns until I feel others may in some way gain an insight which may benefit them in future by my writing about it. Thankfully, this column is not about the pandemic.

It has been many years since I had looked so closely at the dirt, I thought, as my head pointed face down in the dark green grass. It’s amazing how “big” ants look when they are crawling around at the end of your nose.

If I had just took a hit and fell while filming a scene in a movie, I would not have given it a second thought. But instead, I had rolled over twice after a crushing blow to my left side while losing my footing working outside my home.

After a ten-foot attempt to keep on my feet while carrying a large bag of rocks, I failed, only to meet the concrete up close and personal.

Despite my best attempts, I was not bouncing back up in the wake of my close-up examination of the quality of my yard’s root system.

After realizing I was auditioning for one of those old late-night TV commercials where the lady often pitched “I ‘ve fallen and I can’t get up.” I maneuvered my phone from my dirty blue jeans pocket and called my friend Dan Wright to check and see if he could come over and see whether he might think as I did, that I had broken something while doing my driveway dive.

He made it over in a short time and we soon realized, I was dealing with more than just a bruised ego.

We confirmed that my leg would not work properly and were quickly evaluated by the Catoosa County Fire Department emergency medical care response who got me stabilized. They did a superb job while awaiting the ambulance who with all hands got me moved to an ambulance gurney for transport. By now several neighbors had gathered around to check in on what happened, I told one as I rolled by that my guess was, I broke my hip and thus began my medical adventure to Chattanooga.

It’s been about 20 years since I had a need to be in a hospital as a patient, so going during a global pandemic was not within my hopes for this year.

Upon arrival, the ambulance folks shared there might be quite a wait based on the number of ambulances in the delivery area. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. I was pushed to the first spot in-line at CHI Memorial and within about 8 minutes was wheeled into an exam room with the nurse looking after me getting all needed info. About five minutes more, the ER doctor stuck in his head and before I could blink, I was being whisked off to x-ray.

The experience was different, the personnel were wearing various levels of protective gear depending on their jobs and of course all in masks including me.

The x-ray went quickly and I was returned to the exam room with info that the doctor already had the X-rays and would be in soon. A moment passed, he was in the room, saying that I really did a job on my hip. So, within a few more minutes, I was headed to a room to await an orthopedic consultation in the morning.

I had no more than been transferred to a bed when the orthopedic Dr. Bernard was standing over me in his mask saying I can’t operate on you tonight, I have a full schedule but you will be first up tomorrow as he outlined the choices and best outcomes in the list.

I would like to say that the next 21 hours or so were a walk in the park, but they were more like laying on a dirt road and every few minutes a team of horses and a stagecoach rolled over just to make sure I was still aware that my hip was broken.

However, the team of nurses and CNAs that alternated with my care were outstanding and before I knew it I was headed to surgery earlier than scheduled, laughing with the surgery team, even as the Doctor initialed my left hip with a sharpie after asking what it was I knew him to be doing. I was actually enjoying the experience until they rolled me towards the operating room as I faded off into anesthesia bliss until awakening in recovery.

When I returned from surgery, thankfully, I once again was well cared for as I worked to find new comfort levels, and soon began in hospital rehab and other staff as we worked towards the future of my recovery relationship.

In all, three days in and home with a transition to out-patient rehab that is ongoing for several weeks.

I wish I could say I came home picked up my bag of rocks and finished my project in the yard, instead, I was more like the man who was told to pick up his bed and walk in the Bible minus the healing. In the first night, I tried every chair, every bed, every place I could imagine to just rest and stop hurting. None worked and luckily for my neighbors my walker didn’t have a motorized attachment to aide me in checking outside my own home. Though my efforts were a slow start, each day improves.

Hopefully, transitional success will come eight weeks down the road as they release me back to regular routine and hopefully any of the lingering pain is subsided.

Key Lesson: Life can change in a moment’s notice and I am not sure-footed as a mountain goat.

Key Blessings: God’s gifts through Community Friends, my Ringgold United Methodist Church family, and Extended Family, make life easier by their prayers and support when you find you cannot do for yourself.

Greatest Stride: Each day, I am stronger and I see small improvements.

Greatest Challenge: Financial uncertainty for meeting uninsured medical expenses with music and film/tv industries being shut down for pandemic.

Greatest Promise: I am all in God’s Hands and with His guidance, strength and healing, I will be better and all needs will be met.

I want to thank every medical professional, friend and family member who has played a role in getting me on the road to recovery! When I started my career as an entertainer, I moved my legs a lot in rhythm to what I was playing, so hopefully, I will be back to shakin’ a leg again while fiddlin’ around before too long. But I know for sure, it is only possible by God’s blessings and the intervention of those who He sends to make a difference.

So, for the next few weeks, you may see fewer columns, fewer episodes of my various web series as I make my way back to full capacity but don’t worry, I may have fallen, but I will get up again!

Is the richness of debate a dying art?

I am learning that the field of earnest debate between people is becoming an art that is no longer appreciated nor desired by many.
I will never forget the joy as a youth of learning the skills of debate, of working to bring someone who was on the other side of an issue into your interpretation of the situation.
Often as a youth, I was able to see two intelligent individuals with differing opinions, sometimes different philosophies, sit down and revel in the joy of presenting a well-thought-out position sometimes shifting to think on their feet as their opponent took a different approach.
In recent months, I have looked on so many online discussions on various topics facing our country, our communities. Many are so entrenched in their beliefs at an emotional level without any foundation of reasonable facts to debate or an ability to articulate their thoughts so others might be persuaded to their way of thinking.
If you have taken the time to read the writings of our founding fathers, you would know that often their debates were lengthy, with participants arguing points endlessly in hopes of winning others to their point of view.
Some among my family forebearers were party to these debates: my cousin John Adams was known for saying one should “Always stand on principle even if you stand alone.” His lengthy heated discussions with Thomas Jefferson helped create our founding document.
A few years later another family member James Madison fostered into our American system, the representative government we have. He said that “it is much more convenient to prevent the passage of a law, than declare it void after it is passed.”
So, in some respects, the representative form of government is an opportunity to put forward all potential sides, discuss potential problems that might arise from the approach and make the best decision to act or not to act which will best benefit all those concerned. In our form of government often an elected official must bring a long list of fellow elected officials on board to carry an idea forward into fruition.
Sadly, today, we see very little desire to do so, those elected seem to be singing to their own choir rather than working towards bringing others on board to their way of thinking.
The ability to present a good case and the ability to debate any challenges is a strong set of skills.
Unfortunately, I am coming to the conclusion that these abilities are becoming something which is no longer taught and no longer appreciated. It is so much easier just to eliminate someone that does not think like you from your friend list, cancel them, rather than possibly learning something from them.
The richness of the American experience is one that allows people of differing backgrounds, thoughts, beliefs the opportunity to come together discuss ideas and all learn something from one another. That was what our education, journalistic and political systems, and even the spice of community lives and friendships were about – growth through debate, new choices through learning from such exchange, and often a new selected path forward whether individually or collectively.
Though I am always hopeful, I do wonder whether we may ever see the vibrancy of what we once shared as an enlightened society ever again.

A fiddle and a fireplace

I don’t know much about my Grandpa Harve’s childhood, although I am told his tales of life on the Tennessee River rivaled those of Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.”

When my dad was a boy, Harve gathered the children around the fireplace and before bed told a story of an orphaned boy named A.J. (his real initials), filled with intrigue of riverboat gamblers and the dangers of riding the rapids on a handmade raft.
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The day that follows sleep

I got up this morning and wondered what will the day bring.

Each morning that I awake, I push myself from the bedclothes, I shake off the grogginess left by sleep.
I move my legs towards preparing myself for the day – wash, shave, brush, comb, fresh clothes and so then it begins. What will the day be?

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Learning can last a lifetime

One skill that has come in very handy for me since March is one that came into my life as a youth – cooking.
While my normal routine in recent years has been a lot of meals out, the stationing at home the past few months required me to break out skills learned when I was growing up. Both of my parents stressed I should acquire the skills.
Perhaps it was their foresight that it would not be likely to find a woman of my generation willing to dedicate themselves totally to cooking, cleaning and raising children, or perhaps it was my mother’s independent spirit as someone who was before her time.
My mother began operating her own restaurant when she was in her 20s, so needless to say she was a career woman long before I entered her life.
I think she knew that more and more women in my generation would be entering the workforce and spending more time in the workplace.
However, with my arrival and due to some of my unforeseen health issues, she left the business world to look after me until my health improved enough for her to work again full time.
As I grew, I helped out all I could, and one of my chores once she returned to work was to help with evening meals.
With her help, I learned to cook a variety of dishes from Hungarian goulash to Southern style meatloaf. My favorites were the sweets, pineapple upside down cake, pecan and sweet potato pie, which of course barely lasted to the table.
When I was around 13-years-old I had the opportunity to solo on my very first holiday meal — turkey, cornbread dressing, sweet potato yams with marshmallows, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, slaw and pumpkin pie. Of course, like any good teacher she quietly coached and helped with some of the odd jobs like peeling potatoes, grating the cabbage and carrots, opening cans, and of course getting the turkey started soon enough to be done by meal time. You know, if you do not take that thing out of the freezer a day before you’ll be having fried Spam instead.
One thing that to this day I just cannot deal with is those little turkey giblets you put in the gravy. I think gravy is just fine with them swimming in the gravy boat.
For the occasion we invited our neighbors, Millie Dobbs and Bessie Yarbray, to join us.
I was also in charge of setting the holiday table with our finest linens, bone china, crystal glasses and silver ware. These were always reserved for special occasions and guests.
I will never forget my excitement as the meal was set on the table and the guests arrived to see what I had done.
The image looked like it could have come right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
I am pleased to report that everyone said they enjoyed the meal and the portions evidenced that. As far as I know there were no late-night visits to the emergency room, so I guess you can say the event was a success.
I also may have been inspired to pursue this endeavor by the fact that my brother’s wife could not boil water. They spent many evenings sitting around our table.
As an adult these lessons have served me well, and while cooking is no longer what one might call a passion for me, I do know how. As long as food is available in the absence of someone desiring to cook, I won’t starve. Although I have discovered over the years that my food choices are becoming what we perceive today as healthier and as a result over the last few months I was blessed with losing weight – about 30 pounds.
But as years go on, I am sure that will be plain to see as I develop an ailment, which afflicts many of my kinfolk – Dunlap disease. My belly dun lapped over my belt. Bon appetite!