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By Staff | Jan 18, 2013

My wife had surgery last week at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The Mayo Clinic has a worldwide reputation as a place of leading health care that is much deserved. I can say this as my father, mother, uncle and son have all been patients there and received nothing less than the best of care.

Now it was my wife’s turn.

Surgery was scheduled for early Friday morning and it began at 5:30 a.m., when we were told to report to the hospital’s admissions desk. Everything went well and the following Monday afternoon we were home in time to watch the setting sun.

The staff at both the hospital and clinic was very gracious and hospitable (near pun intended).

Being a patient or a close family member of a patient, especially in the hours prior to surgery, can be stressful. We found that visiting with whoever was helping us at any particular moment relieved some of that stress and besides, these were helpful and interesting people.

After being admitted to the hospital, my wife and I went to a room where she was given those first steps to prepare for surgery.

We met Betty who, we learned, commutes to Rochester each day from her family’s dairy farm near the Mississippi River. Everyday her family milked 68 dairy cows, and Betty helped when she was not at work.

I was a little surprised when I heard Betty say, in a departure from many dairy families I have met, describing the dairy herd by saying, “They can go anytime.”

Being candid was another of Betty’s qualities.

After being readied for surgery, a man in his 50s showed up to push my wife on a wheeled bed to the surgery area of the clinic.

We visited as we walked, and I learned he grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, one of 14 children.

“I was number 12,” he said.

After being discharged from the military, he considered returning to the dairy farm where they were milking 200 cows. If he wanted to join the family operation, they would expand to 300 cows.

He decided against joining the dairy operation and found work in town as he thought he was not sure he would be paid for as much work as would be required in that size of a dairy and cow herd.

After reaching the surgery floor and the pre-operative room, he and I continued to visit about farming and he told of all the dairy farms that were around him as he grew up that no longer had any livestock.

He had to keep moving, so he said farewell and he left.

Our surgical nurse was Nicky, who also grew up on Wisconsin farm. She and her husband lived in a small town between Rochester and Winona, where her husband worked for the school system.

Once again, we traded information about ourselves as the minutes went by.

By now, the stress was really building as the time of surgery was very near. Nicky was a great stress reliever just in her demeanor as she went about her nursing duties.

She added to the confidence we had that this surgery was a good decision and would be successful.

She was also one of the post-operative nurses, something we were grateful to see.

My wife and I learned once again that in addition to high level of medical care, the staff at every location was the best, as professionals and as people.

I especially enjoyed connecting with those former farm kids.

We have heard, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

Or in our experience, “You can take the kid out of the farm, but not the farm out of the kid.”

Growing up on a farm does not guarantee anyone a successful life, but I believe it sure does not hurt anyone who has grown up on a family farm, especially on a livestock farm.

I hope Betty is not in any hurry to put the dairy cattle up for sale.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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