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Doug Stohlberg, left, and brother-in-law Tom Wells, right, enjoy a moment with TC Bear at the Twins Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.

Doug's Diggings: From surgery to Florida in one month

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opinion River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

I had an interesting month of March. It started with a triple hernia operation and ended with a beautiful week in Fort Myers, Fla. Somehow I managed to get in two-plus weeks of work.

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I went to see my doctor in February, Dr. Paul McGinnis, and was diagnosed with three hernias. He referred me to Dr. Kirk Jacobson, a surgeon at Hudson Hospital & Clinics. I choose Dr. Jacobson because he had done a couple of procedures on me in 2006. He got my hopes up when he talked about a laparoscopic procedure for repairing hernias. He warned me, however, that the less invasive procedure might not work if I had too much scar tissue in my stomach.

It was actually Monday, Feb. 27, when my wife and I trudged to the hospital for a 1 p.m. surgery. Hard to believe, but if the laparoscopic procedure works, they said I'd be going home the same day.

The first sign of trouble came when I awoke in the recovery room and the clock said 5 p.m. If things were done the "easy way," I knew I should have probably been awake about 90 minutes earlier. Low and behold, the doctor had to do it the "old fashioned" way. Because of two surgeries in 2006 I had too much scar tissue for the "easy way."

After a night in the hospital, however, I was on my way home Tuesday morning. I laid low the rest of the week, but found my way back to work on Monday, March 5. Fortunately I got stronger as the week went on, because my wife and I were scheduled to leave for Florida later in the day Saturday, March 10.

Saturday came and we boarded the plane in Minneapolis for a 5:05 p.m. flight to Fort Myers to visit my wife's sister and husband, Sandy and Tom Wells. In addition to their Fort Myers home, they also live in New Richmond during the summer. Tom picked us up at the airport in Fort Myers and we were set for a week of "fun in the sun."

Oddly enough, the weather turned very nice here at home about the same time we left. But, in Florida we had just a beautiful week. No rain and highs in the mid-80s every day.

Most of our days involved walking and relaxing by the ocean or swimming pool. Their home is on Fort Myers Beach, about 2.5 miles from an area known as Time Square -- essentially a village square with restaurants and shops near many hotels. The first few days I walked to Time Square, had a bite to eat, and took the island trolley back to the Wells' home. By the middle of the week, however, I was able to walk both directions.

I did manage to get in a few other activities. On Tuesday, March 13, the guys went to the Twins spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Hammond Stadium, the Twins' spring training facility. Great day at the park, but the Twins lost 8-2. On Friday night, March 16, we went to the Twins-Red Sox game at the new Red Sox spring train facility -- Jet Blue Park. It's a gorgeous park, which has a few people upset because Lee County spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million for a training facility.

Now the Twins are feeling like the forgotten cousins and are asking for $60 million in improvements to Hammond Stadium. The prevailing wisdom is that they will get improvements, but not $60 million worth.

Jet Blue is a beautiful park and the field has the exact dimensions of Fenway Park in Boston. In many ways the seating areas and concession areas are much nicer than the real Fenway, but, of course, the seating capacity is much smaller. I believe the new park holds about 11,000 people (The Twins' Hammond Stadium holds about 8,000). The Twins won that game, 2-1. The highlight of the night was a circus catch made by the Twins Joe Benson in Center field. Like Fenway, Jet Blue Park has a spot in right center field that is 420 feet from home plate. Benson made a catch off the bat of David Ortiz that would make Willie Mays 1954 World Series catch look routine!

Our last day in Florida was Saturday, March 17. Because we had a 10 p.m. flight, we were able to relish the entire day in the Florida sun. We actually rented a pontoon boat that afternoon and enjoyed boating in the Fort Myers Beach back bay and on the Gulf of Mexico.

So now the surgery is done and the vacation is done. It was quite a month! Now I can settle down into a bit of a normal routine. Clearly the Florida part of the month was the most enjoyable -- that walking on the beach could become "normal" very easily. I'll have to start planning the next potential trip to the "Sunshine State."

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