Last summer I almost broke my ankle answering a phone call that let me know my cows were standing in my front yard (see “One ringy-dingy”). About a month later, I woke up with a tremendous pain in that foot again. This time I didn’t have anything to blame the pain on like I did the last time. This was purely a random occurrence.

So what’s the first thing to do? I believe the phrase is “Better living through chemistry,” so I decided to see if any of the high-quality pain medication from my previous injury was still left. It didn’t seem to do much for me then, so I didn’t exactly eat it like Flintstones Vitamins. Sure enough, a few of the 800-mg Ibuprofen tablets were still left in the bottle.

However, the next day, still no progress on the pain. My mobility was rather impaired. That wouldn’t have been a huge deal for most of the year, but this was right in the middle of combine season. My role in that part of the year has traditionally been shuttling wagons back and forth between the field and the bin site to get the wet corn to the dryer.

Granted, it changed somewhat last year with the addition of some cool new equipment in the grain-handling system at the bin site that Guy No. 1 wanted to oversee, thereby placing me behind the wheel of the combine, but the newness of the toys and gizmos wore off in a hurry and I was back to being a low-level grunt in a matter of days.

By Day Two of PainFest, I was looking at a rather sparse remaining supply of ibuprofen and a rather subpar response to it. I decided to break down and seek professional help. I called my doctor and got in for an appointment that afternoon.

Dr. FeelGood is a bit younger than I am, but I’ve known him for a long time and have always liked him. He did an examination and didn’t think anything was broken. Once I explained the previous injury, he probed around and decided there was a fair amount of scar tissue on my ankle from that incident. We did some range-of-motion tests and then pulled out a medical textbook to get a look at the exact structure of my ankle and how it looks on a normal person. We did a few more tests and even did some adjusting of the ankle that created some snapping sounds. They didn’t hurt at all, though, which was a huge relief and a little bit of a disappointment, frankly.

Then it came time for the suggested remedy. No matter which medical professional I see for anything, I swear every one of them repeats the same thing to me before they fill me in on what’s going to happen. I think they do it as a hedge against their actions not working. The refrain has become quite familiar to me for the last 37 years of Type 1 diabetes. “Since you’re a diabetic, though….

That phrase pretty much lets them take your normal recovery time (You and your fancy functional pancreas, of course!) and multiply it by three. If you would be healed in two weeks, I’ll need six, and I probably still won’t be as good after six weeks as you will after two.
“Since you’re a diabetic, though, you take longer to heal, don’t you?” asked Dr. FeelGood as he looked directly at my hands. They have multiple scratches, gashes, blemishes and other wounds from my daily work that — altogether now — TAKE FOREVER TO HEAL!

The solution was going to be multi-pronged. First off, I’d need to put some ice on the foot each night. I’d also need to put some heat on it in the morning, preferably via the shower, and preferably at a temperature as high as I could tolerate. (You get first-degree burns; I get third-degree burns! How come my solution never involves eating three times as much cake as you?)

Then, knowing my background quite well, Dr. FeelGood put it in terms I could understand. “Think of it like a turbo. You need to cool it down after a long day and you need to warm it up before you work it in the morning.”

Oh. Tractor stuff. That makes sense. Now I felt like I had a turbo-charged foot, so maybe I should have looked for something along the lines of a certificate from Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar.

But this wasn’t going to be an entirely home-based solution for me. Ultrasound was also part of the cure. Again, knowing my background and my tendencies, Dr. FeelGood hit me with this gem. “Although, you’re going to be in the field for another month or so, aren’t you? I mean, there’s really no point in having you come up here for ultrasound three or four times a week and then have you go home and undo a day’s therapy in a couple hours of climbing in and out of the tractor. Let’s hold off on the ultrasound until around the middle or end of November. Then we’ll be able to make better progress on you in less time. Well, except you’re a diabetic and it’s still gonna ….”

Yeah, yeah, it’ll take three times as long. I know, I know.

The final item on the therapy agenda was the best, in my opinion. My foot needed to be wrapped each day. Tape me up like some defensive lineman who was one season beyond retirement but still played thanks to the expertise of a trainer and the wonderful line of products from the good people at Johnson & Johnson and Ace Bandage. Dr. FeelGood got out a roll of wrap and proceeded to show me how to wrap the foot in such a way to support it without causing problems with circulation for me.

That’s when Dr. FeelGood hopped in with a farmer-friendly solution to my podiatry needs. He held up the roll of wrap and said, “This stuff is eight bucks a roll. It’s okay, but, you know, it’s not worth eight bucks! You’re gonna think I’m crazy, but I have a way better idea for you.”

I had a hunch where this was going, but I didn’t say anything, because it would be embarrassing if I happened to be wrong.

“Go down the street to Fisk’s [the Farm & Home store] and get yourself a roll of Hoof Wrap. [YES!!! My hunch was correct!] You can probably buy a case of it for five bucks. It works just like this stuff does, but my supplier can’t get me this stuff for any less than eight bucks. With Hoof Wrap, you won’t have to mess with these ridiculous clips to hold the wrap in place, either. It’s good stuff.”

I mentioned that Hoof Warp also comes in attractive neon colors instead of the drab beige of the high-end medical stuff. Dr. FeelGood felt the neon part was a clincher.

So now I, Mr. Always-Meets-His-Insurance-Deductible-By-February-Each-Year, took my health care action to the Animal Health section of the local farm supply store instead of a pharmacy. It was all I could do when I walked up to the cash register at Fisk’s NOT to whip out my insurance card.

As I walked to my car, I kept reminding myself, “If I were a horse, I’m pretty sure they’d have put me down by now. Thank God for my opposable thumbs!”

If my stomach ever becomes a problem, I’ll be sure to put myself on some of the high-quality hay in the shed. I’ll bill myself like it was high-end dairy hay, just to make it feel like it was a high-priced medical solution.

Guy No. 2