Posted 4/19/22

WOODWORKING BY DAVE WOOD The people make the town After almost a quarter of a century since we moved to Pierce County from Minneapolis, I keep learning more and more about the advantages of living in …

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The people make the town

After almost a quarter of a century since we moved to Pierce County from Minneapolis, I keep learning more and more about the advantages of living in a town the size of River Falls. Case in point: Citizen of the Year. When similar awards were announced in Minneapolis, I barely paid attention because chances were that I didn't know the recipient, usually a billionaire philanthropist who was donating a few million to the Guthrie or the administrator of a huge charity that fed thousands.

Once in River falls, when such special citizens were announced in the local paper, I was thrilled to know them personally, what they stood for and what they were like.

Soon after we arrived, I read that David Markson was named Citizen of the Year. I actually knew Dave, played in a pickup band at Johnnie’s with the talented Renaissance man artist, who was not only a musician, but an actor and a painter, who has enlivened civic art in this little town. Soon after, my nextdoor neighbor Howie Nelson was named for his leadership in veterans affairs, caretaking of the cemetery, and his interest in making sure local ordinances were observed. Remember Howie's neighbor, the pet pig?

Finally comes our pharmacist, Freeman Drug's Leah Gavin, who got the nod last year for acquitting herself so well in administering Covid medicines and being the only pharmacist in Christendom who sells local authors’ books right alongside shelves of Preparation H. and men's diapers! I was thrilled with Leah's election, not only because her father Seth Speerstra was my Cubmaster in Whitehall 70-odd years ago, but also because she has carried on his tradition of inculcating a culture of leadership in my new hometown.

All this introduction requires a backstory. I'm not one to hide my medical problems. Usually, if someone asks me how my health is withstanding 86 years of abuse, I tell them I have one hip replacement, two femurs in trouble (one wired together, the other bolted), have suffered through two cataract implants, have arthritis, two new knees, neuropathy (which means my feet are as numb as an oak fencepost), as well as IBS, which stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (Guess what that means.)

And one more ailment I haven't exposed widely to general knowledge because it's too grisly to talk about. A quarter century ago, I contracted prostate cancer, which some folks call the “easy cancer” because it’s fairly treatable. So I had surgery, which failed, followed by radiation therapy, which was botched and resulted in more surgery in St. Paul, from a Brazilian surgeon Dr. Ercole, which is Portuguese for “Hercules.” For my money he should get a citizenship award as well. After urologists gave up on me (one of them told me that “urology is very complicated”), Dr. Ercole dug into me and guess what he discovered?

He discovered that radiation had burned my bladder to a crisp. This good man spent ten hours digging inside me and finally appeared to my frazzled wife in the waiting room. She remembers it well. “The doctor looked very proudly at me and showed me a drawing of what he had done to you.”

Essentially, he had constructed a thin tube out of chunk of my small intestine, bypassed the useless bladder and pulled the tube through a hole he made in my abdomen, capped it with a little red valve. And told me that I had to go shopping for a box of Hollister Urosacs that would be pasted over the little red valve to catch the urine that would travel through the little red tube.

My lovely wife asked me if I would like to see Doc's pencil drawing of his Herculean handiwork. I passed on that. Too grisly, as I've already stated. I once told a close friend about the surgery and the look on his face prompted my decision not to divulge my little secret.

I have learned to slap on a Hollister Urosac. When the glue on the pouch starts to weaken, I slap on another Hollister Urosac. There's only one catch. Hollister, which operates in Libertyville, Ill., doesn't sell this wonderful invention, which we found out on a trip to Los Angeles when I was running low on replacement sacs. Calls to every drugstore in town let us know we were up pee creek without a paddle. So we phoned Leah in River Falls and she moved heaven and earth to mail us a few. Then we rested easy and made certain to have a duffel bag of Urosacs whenever we go on a long trip. Sure enough last February we began running low in Sarasota, so again phoned Leah and she assured us that a refill prescription would be sent to our resort address, a compound called Village des Pins. More than a week later the local post office swore the package had been delivered, but the Urosacs showed up nowhere. Could a Urosac fetishist be lurking in such a place?

Soon I was down to three pitiful little urosacs. Again we called Leah in desperation. Knowing that government regulations prevented prescriptions from being refilled before their life expectancy expired, Leah got on the horn and called Libertyville, explained my plight and arranged for “sample product” sacs to be sent to us free of charge.

Whew! So, with the help of a concerned Brazilian doctor and our praise-worthy hometown pharmacist we avoided my exclaiming “Mon Dieu, apres moi, le deluge.” (Look it up in the nearest Berlitz French Dictionary) And praise be to worthy citizens like Leah, David, and Howie for making River Falls a great community to live in.