Jerry Nelson: Owner's manual

Jerry Nelson
Special to the Farm Forum
Jerry Nelson

It would be extremely helpful if our bodies came with an owner’s manual.

This would be especially true when we are navigating the rocky shoals of young adulthood. Being ignorant about any particular thing would no longer be an excuse.

“Let’s see,” you might mumble as you prepare to go out with some friends, “Here’s what it says under capacities and specifications: ‘This unit is capable of consuming one standard beer per hour. WARNING! Exceeding stated capacities may lead to reduced performance of numerous features including, but not limited to, the self-steering system, the eye-hand coordination toolkit, and serious degradation of the connection between the mouth and the brain.’” 

Should you experience some unexpected issues, you could search for information in the handy index located at the back of your owner’s manual.

“OK, where is it? Eyes, bleeding. Nope. Eyes, blurring. Nope. Eyes, bulging. Here we go! Bulging due to dropping something heavy on your toe. Nope. Bulging due to the presence of an extremely attractive person. That’s it! Page 222-6, Part II. It says, ‘A small amount of eye bulge is normal when encountering an extremely attractive person. If eye bulging becomes problematic, we recommend deploying the Ray-Ban option as illustrated in figure 347-C.’”

One of the most important parts of a person’s personal owner’s manual would be the section titled Maintenance and Care.

We owe it to our families to take care of ourselves. Plus, if you knowingly let yourself fall into disrepair, good luck finding someone who will honor your spendy extended warranty.

Everyone’s service schedule should include an annual physical. I say “should” because many of us are incredibly lax regarding such checkups, especially yours truly. Like most guys, I don’t think it’s necessary to see a doctor unless you’re geysering blood or have a sucking chest wound.

Part of my reluctance to undergo an annual physical has to do with being quantified. Can a person really be boiled down to a bunch of numbers that are spat out by some laboratory? What about his or her innate essence? What about their congenital inability to “just say no” to a slice of cheesecake?

After some persistent pestering from my wife, I recently went for my physical. It had been several years since my last checkup, so it wasn’t exactly annual.

Bloodwork had to be done, so I reported to the lab. A woman whom I think of as the Vampire Lady extracted approximately two gallons of the red stuff. I could actually see my arm shrivel.

Sitting in a waiting room gives you perspective. I saw folks who were tethered to oxygen bottles. A woman who was younger than me had lost all of her hair to chemo. It made me glad to be ambulatory and upright with my biggest problem being the dread of a routine physical exam.

Dr. Bien is my primary care physician. He is an extremely nice guy, with gentle eyes and a physique like a beanpole. 

I held my breath as Dr. Bien perused my test results on his laptop. I was certain that all of my lifestyle sins would come back to haunt me. I would be told that I have to cut back on my Jersey beef consumption and that beer is now verboten. The lab numbers would tell me that I need to exercise more and would reveal how much time I’ve wasted watching TV.

After a moment of suspenseful silence, Dr. Bien said, “Your numbers all look pretty good.”

Pretty good? That’s outstanding! Pretty good is plenty good as far as I’m concerned!

The only thing I needed was a tetanus vaccine booster. I was happy to get the jab. If you’re a clumsy guy like me and are perpetually sustaining minor wounds from rusty objects, one of your top priorities is avoiding lockjaw.

I left the clinic with a song in my heart and a band-aid on my shoulder. As I made my way to my pickup, I espied a middle-aged woman who was helping an athletic young lady hobble slowly across the parking lot. The young lady, who was obviously in great pain, was holding a bare foot off the ground as she limped toward the clinic.

I asked them if they wanted a wheelchair and they replied yes, that would be most welcome. I went back into the clinic and returned with one of their wheeled transports. The young lady gingerly sat down and was soon rolling into the clinic.

“There but for the grace of God,” I thought. Also, that she should refer to page 390-1 of her owner’s manual to learn more about Roadside Assistance. 

If you'd like to contact Jerry Nelson to do some public speaking, or just to register your comments, you can email him at His book, “Dear County Agent Guy,” is available at and at booksellers everywhere.