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Dust on the Dashboard

Don’t wait to address chronic pain

I am back in the saddle again. No, I am not riding horses yet, rather I am back in the tractor seat.

It is absolutely amazing to me that less than 12 days from my second hip replacement and less than six weeks from the first one I am back to work. I can’t do everything, but I can drive a tractor and that feels really good.

I did not realize just how much I was hurting until now. This was the first time in several years that I could sit comfortably in the seat. I won’t lie, I was stiff and sore when I finished for the night but even that was not as bad as before.

It does highlight the fact that we all should probably take breaks to get out and walk around every hour or two, just to make sure we don’t sit for too long.

I also want to take this time to make a statement: if you are suffering from chronic pain, do something about it. I am the first to acknowledge that it slips up on you. Until now I did not realize just how much pain I was in.

I get it, we all have too much going on. When you are in agriculture there is never a good time to be on the sidelines. Well, if you are in as much pain as I was, you are on the sidelines already and you might as well get it taken care of so you can start to recover.

I know I was as stubborn as anyone. I tried every alternative. At some point, you have to yell “uncle.”

This whole process has not been fun. I would not wish it on anyone, but it was necessary, and I am better now for having gone through it. My advice, and it is worth exactly what you paid for it, is to go now to your doctor and tell them your concerns. Get a diagnosis and start down the path of recovery.

In the long run that is what is best. I don’t know of a single ailment that waiting will make better. Believe me, I speak from experience.

It did feel really good to be back at work. One would think an extended rest would be nice, but after a little bit it gets old. There are only so many episodes of “Gunsmoke” and “The Andy Griffith Show” you can watch.

We had one last field of brome to bale. I had saved it for last, the reason being that only I knew where the ditches were. OK, not even I knew, but I thought it would be better if I was the one who found them.

Fortunately, I did not find any, but I did find out that the air conditioning was out of the tractor on the baler. It was only 100 degrees out, so it was no big deal. I opened the windows and forged on. Opening the windows in a newer tractor only gets you so far but it did keep the temperature down somewhere below an Easy-Bake Oven. It got so hot that even my phone quit working.

I was undeterred because I was finally back at work. I didn’t even growl when the net wrap ran out on the last bale. Yes, the roll of net wrap ran out on the last bale, and I had to change it to finish.

Do you know what? I was happy because I could change the roll, which was something that would have been hard even two weeks ago. It wasn’t easy now, but I could do it. That is nothing short of a miracle.

I am sure I will have some more hurdles to clear but the worst is behind me, and it is all worth it. I am not running any races and I don’t ever intend to, but it is nice to be able to sleep at night and walk with less pain.

I hope this will make me a little less grouchy, although the verdict is still out with my family. Quality of life is not a little thing. Again I urge you if you have been putting up with chronic pain to think about that. Can you do the things you enjoy doing?

We all have aches and pains, especially if you are in agriculture. We do not treat our bodies especially well, and the wear and tear add up. Modern medicine is incredible and making huge strides all the time.

I know those of us in agriculture don’t like to share our problems with anyone, not even our doctor. We will take care of it when it is convenient. I am here to tell you, that time never comes. Get it done now. Feel better and you can thank me later.

Now pardon me, I have a tour to go on – one that requires walking.

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at

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Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at

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