Why don’t I want to retire? Because I’d get tired of watching old Westerns on television.

I like “Gunsmoke” and “The Virginian” as much as the next guy, but there is a limit.

I spent seven days at CHI Health St. Francis after I collapsed at home on Jan. 27. After seven nights in the hospital, I was home for another week, after which I joyfully returned to work.

I’m just glad to have a job. I’m not ready to sit home and watch TV all day.

But I haven’t forgotten what the Grand Island Fire Department EMTs did.

“They were heroes,” says my wife, who admired their persistence. “They didn’t quit until they got your pulse back and got you breathing.”

While they were working on me, one of them stayed near my wife, making sure she was OK.

In bringing me back, they broke one of my ribs. But that’s a very small price to pay.

They also got to our house quickly. If they’d arrived a little later, I wouldn’t be writing this column.

I also think highly of the doctors and the nurses. I dealt with about 18 nurses throughout the week, and they were all great.

When I came to, I had a tube down my throat. Fortunately, they removed it quickly. Sometimes, it’s better to not know what’s going on.

My wife stayed in my hospital room every night, making sure I was hanging in there. Our sons and other family members checked in regularly,

Our daughter flew in to make sure I pulled through.

Brenna was worried.

“I only started to really believe that you were going to make it on the second day, when you were lucid enough to comment on my hair,” she said. I often make comments about my daughter’s hair.

Eventually, I was myself again.

“It was a huge relief to watch you gradually get grumpier and more impatient about going home,” my daughter said. “I’ve never seen you as docile my entire life as you were those first few days.“

My wife was another superhero. She didn’t get much rest while we were in the hospital. When we got home, she slept for 14 hours straight.

I didn’t shave for two weeks, partly because I wasn’t supposed to.

The beard was mostly white. It made me look like Kenny Stabler in his later years.

I sent some pictures of myself, looking bearded and rough, to my mother. She commented that I “used to be such a pretty little boy.”

Now that I’m home, my diet has changed substantially.

I’m eating a lot of almonds, and avoiding lots of things.

No more French fires. No more Doritos. I may never eat a doughnut again.

My daughter sent me a book, written by Dr. Jason Fung. It’s supposed to be my guidebook.

I’m also taking lots of pills, and wearing a hockey mask at night.

Even though I’m gone during the day, my wife is still exhausted. At the best of times, I’m high-maintenance. Now she really has her hands full.

Here at work and at the courthouse, people were glad to see me back.

One woman, who didn’t know where I’d gone, said she hoped I’d been somewhere warm and fun. She didn’t notice I was missing a tan.

My wife reminds me that we need to give thanks. She’s right. Thanks be to God.

When people ask me how I’m doing, I say, “Still alive. Or I should say alive again.”

It’s good to get out of the house.

I hope I’m not going to be watching Westerns full time for many years to come.

Jeff Bahr is a reporter for The Independent. He may be reached at (308) 381-9408.

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