I haven’t been able to post here for the past week because I have been out on medical leave. On the evening of July 25 I received emergency treatment for what I thought was some type of heart attack at Avera St. Mary’s Hospital emergency center in Pierre. Thanks to one of our neighbors, Dr. Jamie Liudahl, who hurried barefoot from his house to our house when the ambulance arrived, and to the emergency room staff and Dr. Peter Maningas, the diligent physician on duty that night, the diagnosis was reached that I was suffering pulmonary embolism. That is a blockage of the main artery or one of its branches in a lung. Blood clots had accumulated in massive amounts in both of my lungs for 90 percent occlusion. As I understand it, my lungs couldn’t transfer enough oxygen to my blood. I was air-lifted by plane to Avera heart hospital in Sioux Falls in the middle of the night. I received treatment on Friday morning from Dr. Michael Bacharach in Avera’s cath lab. Via i.v. tubes, I subsequently was placed on a blood-thinner for my body overall and a special clot-busting medicine that was administered directly to the lungs for two days. An additional step was installation of a filter in a main vein in my torso to catch clots, if they form, before they move into the lungs or heart or brain. By Wednesday morning I had recovered fully — or as fully as possible after six nights in a hospital bed. The treatment was innovative, and the care generally was excellent. The hours of idle time gave me an opportunity to get glimpses into the lives, motivations and backgrounds of a variety of registered nurses and care staff. As I was able to start walking about a bit, or saw other patients walking past my room with their nurses or loved ones, I gradually realized that healthcare is really about preserving families and their most basic foundation of love. I will take blood-thinner tablet medicine for at least the next year. The reason for the generation of the blood clots remains unknown. I am cleared to return to work as of Monday, Aug. 5, and intend to be back on the job later that morning after a doctor appointment. I celebrated my return to regular life on Wednesday evening by mowing part of the lawn. To lift a line from an favorite song, it is always good again to touch the green, green grass of home.