Dodging the pitfalls of an aging body- Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


It all started when an old hernia surgery scar began hurting—real bad! What was going on? I was exercising on our elliptical machine and pains started shooting through the scar tissue like I’d never had surgery. Had the surgical mesh failed? I was really upset and went to our family doctor. He took one look at the swelling, saw me wince when he touched the area, and sent me to a general surgeon. Jeeze.
The general surgeon took one look at the swelling, saw me wince when she touched the area, and said, “Yep. Hernia. Surgery for you. Let’s do a CT Scan first.”
I was really bummed. When I had the original hernia surgery, I was told the surgical mesh would never fail. All sorts of bad thoughts raced through my head, like greyhounds at a dog track.
“Good news!” the surgeon’s nurse chirped when she called. “No hernia. You might be overly sensitive in that area, like a weather joint. We have a non-narcotic nerve med for you to try.”
I was almost disappointed. But the nerve med was effective.
Next, my hip and thigh started hurting, especially after jogging on the treadmill. People said I had a hitch in my giddyup. I returned to the doctor. He ordered x-rays. His nurse called with the results. “Degenerative hip and spine disease, herniated disk in lower lumbar, osteoarthritis.”
What was I supposed to do with this information? Was it going to be a hip replacement in the future, like Ginnie had? Ye gads, my body was falling apart!
However, remembering when my elbow hurt and the doctor told me to wear a copper bracelet, I had a little something I wanted to try. I be-bopped into the hardware store and bought a roll of heavy copper wire. At home, I fashioned a copper wire belt using needle nose pliers and side cutters. I now wear the copper wire around my hips under my clothing.
Ginnie just about had a conniption. But the pain went away. Oh, the copper wire belt is a little uncomfortable, sure, but not nearly as uncomfortable as the hip pain. I can now jog on the treadmill with no discomfort, and look forward to my next doctor’s check-up when follow-up x-rays will reveal, hopefully, the complete remission of degenerative joint disease—all from the use of a copper wire belt. You never know.
Then my shoulder began acting up, really bad. I had been doing bench presses and trimming hedges, using heavy pruning shears. I must have strained or tore something. The pain was intense, especially at night, throbbing, emergency room type pain. Jumpin Jehoshaphat! I returned to the doctor. He asked, “What is it this time, Curtis?”
“My shoulder.”
He fiddled around, turning my shoulder every which way, and diagnosed a torn rotator cuff. He sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. My mind went into orbit. Here we are planning a trip to the Holy Land and I’m going to have surgery. For crying out loud!
The surgeon was to the point. “I’ll wager,” he said, “75% of men your age (I’m 71) have a torn rotator cuff. Let’s try a cortisone shot first, and see what happens.”
The cortisone shot is effective. The pain is mostly gone and I have full use of my shoulder. Hmm. I’m wondering if a copper wire around my chest will make it through airport security on our way to Israel.
Ginnie is adamant, “Don’t even try. You know those people who get thrown into prison in a foreign country and you never hear from them again?”
Ginnie still has some hip pain when using the treadmill. I tell her if she doesn’t quit bellyaching, I’m going to fashion a copper wire belt for her. She quiets down real quick.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or visit his website at

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