Another First Step

I was pumped. Today was Doctor Rounds and they were going to discharge me. No one had told me but I was twelve years old and I’d been coming here for a decade or so. Sometimes I knew what the staff was going to do or say before they did.

Once I got home there’d be fishing trips, and my .22 caliber carbine. I could buy comic books at the grocery store, I could sleep outside in forts, cousins would visit, and food. I would have access to food in the cupboards, the refrigerator, and snacks. Designated fluid times were a thing of the past and I could have a drink whenever I wanted.  It was Saturday morning and that meant Doctor Rounds.

Finally … down the hall they came. I was in the big ward with the oldest kids. It had 19 beds and they always went through the beds in the same order. My bed was in a good spot but was always the last one in the ward to be visited during the rounds. While they went from bed to bed I was only half listening to what they had to say to other patients as they made their way to me because … did I mention I was going home?

I knew I was going home because things were just like before. Okay I did have my right knee amputated this time but that’s not much different than the time they amputated both feet when I was nine. I’d put in my time after surgery.  I was fitted for new legs which I wore for a week or two before they made final adjustments. Adjustments were made and I walked around on them for a few more days just to be sure. The adjusting mechanisms were now removed and the cosmetics had been applied last week. I was ready. I was good to go.

The doctors came, we talked, and they left. I’d been higher than a kite. Now I felt like I’d just fallen into a bottomless pit. A nurse’s aide came in to do something with the kid in the next bed. “I don’t get it, my legs are done, why didn’t they discharge me”? She said “You were walking when you came in to the hospital. They won’t send you home till you are walking again”.

No sense arguing but technically I was walking … with crutches. Maybe I used crutches but that didn’t mean I could be pushed around like this. I pictured myself slapping the snot out of a few people but managed to maintain. It didn’t seem right. Yeah I came in without crutches but this leg was a whole lot different. The new right leg had a knee but I did not. I knew where the left foot was when I look a step but with the right one I did not. If I didn’t swing it out hard enough I would step down on a partially bent knee, it would buckle under me, and I would go down.  Okay I was torqued. They wanted me to walk … I’d walk.

After the big ward they would do the twenty-five or so beds in the other two wards.  There were a couple empty beds in the back sun porch so I went there and pulled them close together. They were about table height off the ground so I could use them as parallel bars and if I fell I wouldn’t go all the way down. I was scared spit-less.

So I stood at the head of the beds looking down six and a half feet or so to the end.  I was gonna break my neck. “Get a grip! Do I want to go home now or wait till I’m sixteen and they send me home for being too old”! Okay worst case scenario. I fall down. I have been eventually been thrown off every horse I ever rode, mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing but did watch Saturday morning cowboy shows and knew how to get in to a full gallop and stuff. I’d also fallen out of a couple trees I’d been climbing, the hayloft in the barn … so far no broken bones. One thing that almost never happened though was falling down due to my disability. Oh sure if I fell down no matter what the reason some people would figure it was because I was disabled. Of course if they fell down, it was because of ice on the sidewalk or a million other random things that could go wrong … but when I did it … “STOP IT”!

I’m wasting valuable time and I already know life ain’t fair. I’m not going to stay here just because I am scared. I can do this … and I did.

I walked to the end of the bed. Turned around and walked back. This time I walked past the end of the bed and kept on going till I got to the nurses desk. “Okay I can walk, when the doctors are done tell them to come see me again”.

“It’s too late but I’m sure they’ll discharge you next week”.

It wasn’t too late … but that’s how they did things back then. I shoulda been really upset about having to spend another week on top of the three or four months I’d already been there. But I was now more pumped about having overcome my fear than I had been about going home.

Fear sure gets in the way.



13 Responses to “Another First Step”

  1. Marie Says:

    You’re so right! Fear can get be a road block if we let be! Well put Harry!

  2. Carl Gann Says:

    I’m glad you went for it. You lived fearless!

  3. Susan Says:

    Sounds like your Shriner Hospital experience can be summed up with the old adage ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’!! Harry, the more I read about your growing up years the more respect I have for you (not that I was lacking in respect before!!). You Da Man!

  4. Diane Says:

    To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.

  5. lauracyr Says:

    This story makes me think of Grandfather’s wife who is home now. I am sending this to her because I am sure she can relate to it. Walk in Beauty, Laura Cyr

    Date: Wed, 15 May 2013 01:05:14 +0000 To:

  6. Mary Says:

    Good story!! Especially love the last sentence.

  7. Sean Langdon Says:

    Thank you for sharing. You have a powerful way with words. Made me feel as if I was there, present in the story.

  8. Voni Says:

    Another winner – keep writing those best sellers 🙂

  9. Tiffers Says:

    I enjoy reading your stories uncle!

  10. Michele Says:

    Your life and stories are an inspiration!! Blessings and hugs to you and Janice.

  11. Linda Osborn Says:

    Thank you for the inspiration, Harry, and for paving the way for future Shriners kids! Great writing.

  12. Matt Whelden Says:


  13. John Nichols Says:

    thanks for sharing this part of your story, Harry! I really enjoy reading the stories where people step out, into the unknown, face a fear and eventually overcome. these are stories of hope. thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: