When I was in high school, my favorite pair of bell-bottom jeans started to show signs of wear and tear. However, I had just gotten them broken in, so I couldn’t bear to part with them.

Mother obligingly darned, sewed and then patched the jeans. I finally had to abandon them with great reluctance when there were so many patches that there wasn’t any of the original denim left.

I’m beginning to feel the same way about my body as I did about those jeans — I have just gotten broken in and I’m trying to keep it patched together.

Of course, this patching began long before now when I am on the verge of Medicare.

Mother received more first-aid training than some nurses as she took care of my two younger brothers and me. She bought boxes of adhesive bandages by the gross and mercurochrome and tincture of iodine by the gallon.

Actually, she had double work because every time I fell (and I fell many times), she had to patch up my knees first and the knees of my pants next.

Some of the clothing stores in town had merchandise clubs where people would put in $1 or $2 a week and then have some built up credit for when they needed clothes.

I think we were the only family with a merchandise club at Dr. Schmooshinski’s office. Dad would put in $2 a week, so we would have money on account whenever my brothers or me had to receive stitches or clamps for head wounds, or casts for broken bones.

The money never had any chance to accumulate, since we were in the office about every other week. However, Dr. Schmooshinski was a sport. Every 10th visit, he would stitch up one of us for free.

(Come to think of it, all those childhood head injuries would account for how this column turns out every week.)

All things considered, I suppose I was pretty fortunate only to have to spend one night in the hospital as a result of my klutziness. That’s when I learned the hard lesson that it is probably not a good idea to use a sharp knife to try to separate two frozen hamburger patties.

It wasn’t until my 40s when I first started to become acquainted with the surgical ward of the hospital. Until then, I had only been familiar with the emergency ward.

My time there was not accidental. I underwent one operation to try to regain some of the hearing I lost in one ear and another surgery to try again when the first one didn’t work.

The second one wasn’t any more successful, but, on the bright side, I have discovered sometimes it’s not a bad thing not to hear everything everyone is saying.

The next turn in the operating room came about 18 years ago with laparoscopic surgery to remove a troublesome appendix. While I was there, the surgeon fixed an umbilical hernia in a two-for-one deal.

That repair work held up until this year when another hernia popped up in my navel base. The differences were that it wasn’t laparoscopic surgery; it was the regular variety and I was 18 years older.

The first time, I had the surgery on Friday and was back to work on Monday. This time, the recuperation process has not been as brief.

For a few days, I was walking around like a 95-year-old guy. Usually, I move about with the agility of an 85-year-old guy.

I didn’t leave the house from Monday until Saturday and that was only to go to church. There, I prayed I would make it back home.

But compared to my wife, JoAnn, I’ve had it easy. She has picked up all the slack around the house and chauffeured me around when I do have to go somewhere. Actually, she is the lovely patch that holds me together.

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