Much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I have much to be thankful for this year. As many of you may already know, in early October I had surgery to replace my hip and I became sick shortly after being released from the hospital. An ambulance rushed me to the hospital where another surgery was performed and it was discovered that I had a MRSA infection—which is often fatal. Since the initial surgery, I have had three additional surgeries to address the infection. Now I am aggressively working with the rehab specialist and am preparing for one final surgery to implant a new hip prosthesis. I anticipate—and am looking forward to—walking out of the hospital under my own steam in the first week of January and appearing at my desk on the senate floor.

So, again, I have much to be thankful for this year. I am thankful for the volunteers who operate the Keystone ambulance and came to my rescue. I am thankful for the staff at the Rapid City Regional Hospital who have taken care of me and are helping me with my rehabilitation. I am thankful for my family who have been a great support and provided great encouragement during this difficult time. I am thankful for all of your many well wishes, cards, and messages. I am thankful for many small and large things each day which I don’t mention here for the sake of brevity.

Something in particular struck me, which I have been continually thankful for throughout my life’s journey in South Dakota. Between surgery #2 and surgery #3, I was discussing what to do with a close friend who is also a physician. In a brief time I had to decide if I would go to a well-known national institution (such as the Mayo Clinic or the Cleveland Clinic)—but I wasn’t going anywhere. I knew that somehow I had been shielded in my whole life by an almost mystical shield and I knew I would recover under that shield—with Kadoka, where my grandmother homesteaded, to my east and Mount Rushmore, the key to my free life, in the my west. I am thankful to recover here, surrounded by home and I am looking ahead to applying the many things that I have learned throughout this struggle. I look forward to sharing those things with you, working with you, and visiting with you.

We can begin now. I appreciate the opportunity to share what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for this year?