Every story has a beginning and an end. I will start at the beginning for you. Throughout my entire life I have been attached to the outdoors. The outdoors is what fixed me when I had an ailment. Every major life event of mine had some type of outdoor component to it before or afterwards.
I gave up hunting about fifteen years ago. My wife and daughter do not eat venison or any outdoor related hunting quarry so I decided to give it up. I am not a horn hunter and I am a firm believer in eating what I shoot. Fishing took the forefront of my outdoor adventures from then on.
On any given day fifteen years ago you could find me in the trout stream or at the dam in Gays Mills chasing walleye and pike. I was out there about five days a week at least. Fishing was my anchor and it made me feel at one with nature.
“A few years back I made a comment to an acquaintance about trout fishing being so important to me, and he dismissed it. He said trout fishing was the least important thing he does in life and I shouldn’t make it so important. I wholeheartedly disagree with him. Many people go to church to feel spiritual and be in touch with the universe. I go into the outdoors to cleanse my soul. All the things in life that bother me are melted away about a hundred yards from the truck. The fish are only a bonus in the whole scheme of things.” Note I said acquaintance and not friend. I disagreed with this angler and we no longer fish together or even converse.
All of my outdoor adventures mixed in with work mishaps took their toll on my body. I remember vividly my first work mishap that restricted my outdoor adventures. I was in law enforcement for thirty years. One of my partners tried to arrest a guy and he ran. I encountered the guy at the top of a flight of stairs. I tried to arrest him. To make a long story short it ended with me arresting the guy at the bottom of the stairs and my left knee was screaming in pain. A little light duty and I was off the streams for an extended time and the knee felt better. That time off the stream nearly drove me crazy. Fishing from the recliner was not my cup of tea.
My left knee never recovered 100 percent. Usually by the end of trout season I was dragging it behind me. The closed season allowed it to rehab enough to begin the season again. This cycle went on for 6 years. My knee was getting gradually worse each year.
Then it happened. My friend had a giant trout on and I was the net man. Adrenaline caused me to be a little careless when I saw the huge trout he had on and I hurried in the water to net it. I did the netting just fine but getting out of the water was hard. I had wrenched my knee and it was swelling up immediately.
Ten trips to specialist later and I was scheduled for micro-fracture surgery on my left knee. With surgery and rehab it erased a year of fishing for me. I was the grouchiest I ever was during that time. My wife must be a saint to have tolerated me. I felt like a boat with no anchor. I felt adrift and not in control of my life.
After all my physical therapy my PT specialist told me I should go back to see my primary doctor because I was not making progress. Fast forward 2 months and a left knee replacement it was May of 2015. No fishing for me but my PT was going well and my therapist oked me to go fishing. My wife vetoed trout fishing and accompanied me while I went fishing for pike and walleye at the local dam. It was only 15 steps from the vehicle.
It was September and my wife liked my progress and said she was ok with me going for trout. I decided that we had a vacation planned near the end of the month and I was not going to be gimpy for it. I told her if vacation went well I would trout fish when we got back.
We got back from vacation and I was biting at the bit to get out there and fish. My wife told me to pick a place close to the road. She said I should find a place close enough to the road to crawl to the road in case I hurt myself. I smiled and thought she was being over cautious and actually listened to her and planned my fishing place accordingly for the next day.
I was hyper vigilant walking on stream. I was babying my new left artificial left knee. The fishing was grand. I had been without for such a long time. It made me savor the outing even more. I can remember me thinking to myself how sad I would be if I was never able to trout fish again. The outdoors gave my life direction and without it I would be adrift in life. I decided to not over do and anger my new knee and cut the outing short.
I made an immediate left and headed towards the road. The road was 30 yards away. The next thing you knew it I found a deep hole when walking out. My right leg went down in the hole hard and I caught myself as I fell and snapped my rod in half. I accessed my other knee and it seemed like the artificial one was good to go. I couldn’t say the same for my good knee. It was swelling up as I examined it.
I sped up my gimpy exit to the road. The weeds were tall and red thorn bushes were everywhere. The next thing you know I was upside down and entangled in an old abandoned barbed wire fence. I couldn’t move either of my legs. I had pain in my left shin and in my right thigh and groin. The fence was a four stander when it was made but the 2 top strands were broken away from the fence post. My left ankle was between the 2 remaining strands and locked in place by my body weight over the 2 remaining strands angled up and right to the next fence post.
I tried to free myself and failed. That left leg was stuck and the right one was wrapped in barb wire and pointed upward. My waders were torn on both legs and in the crotch. I could feel what I thought was wetness in each wader leg. I was certain it was blood. I finally reached back and yanked my right leg free. Talk about a lot of pain. I finally made it to the vehicle.
I went to the emergency room immediately. I had a few sutures here and there and there and I was not bleeding any longer. My right knee was so swollen they made me wait until the swelling went down to examine it a couple days later. A month and a half later I had my right knee scoped.
I fished very limited time in early 2016 and got back on the water enough to pacify me near the end of the season. I was never alone on stream in 2016 by orders of my loving wife. 2017 is a new season and here I come. No end in sight.