Some thank yous and reminders as we kick off 2023

Dustin Bergstrom

Hi, friends and neighbors, I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season.  

Now that the clamor and glitz has fallen into the rearview, it is time to settle back into a normal, or seminormal, routine. Back to reality, so to speak. Nose to the grindstone … so we can get right back into the whirlwind in 11 months or so.

First off, I want to take a moment for a couple of thank
you shouts:

To Bob (Bonnar), thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this. It has been very entertaining. Thanks also to you, the readers. Without you, all of this means nothing. I hope you all have gotten a smile or thoughtful moment from something I have scribed.  

You may know that 2022 was a very challenging year for me, as I went through a medical nightmare that has profoundly affected my daily life. In November 2021, I suffered a severe foot injury. The foot bones on my left side sheared away from the ankle bone. The pain was worse than any I have ever felt. In December of that year — two days after Christmas — I had the first reconstruction surgery done. Ultimately, in June 2022, after several surgeries to remove or add hardware, I opted for a below-knee amputation. The bones had just taken too much abuse.

I do not regret the decision. I would do it over and over, given the same choice. While I am working toward a prosthesis, I am currently living day to day in a wheelchair.  

Having shared that, I want to also share things I wish people understood more about their friends or acquaintances with handicaps.

One of the big things for me is I don’t want sympathy. I don’t need someone to say, “I am so sorry this happened to you.” Empathy is better. Understanding the changes and understanding that I am no less of a person is
very important. 

Another thing to remember is, we are not dead. We still have a life to live and things to do. It may be that we are not able to do all of the same things, or have a different way we have learned to do things — not that we can’t. Yes, I know I cannot do a 5K or go rock climbing right now. I get that, but being excluded from activities or functions hurts a bit. So at least make the invite. If we can’t do it, we will say so and thank you for the offer.  

Offering help is great, but if you are told, “No, I got this,” leave it at that, and don’t keep pushing it. Focus and mental preparedness is huge. For example, when I go to stand up from my wheelchair — be it to get in my car or bed — if something breaks my focus, it feels like I have a 500-pound sack on my shoulders and it pushes me right back down.

In those situations, just let us do our thing. Unless you see that a person is going to fall, do not reach out and grab them because you may break their concentration. Then they may actually fall!

If you want to know what happened, just ask. If it is too traumatic, the answer might be, “I don’t want to talk about it,” and leave it at that. Don’t assume or succumb to rumors.  

Lastly, just treat us as humans. We are not fragile glass. We just want to live as normally as we can.

Be kind.  

OK, I am off of my soapbox. Again, thank you all for coming on this ride with me. I look forward to this new year and new opportunities to astound and amaze. If you have topics you would like to see someone else take on, let me know. I enjoy the challenge of researching thoughts and ideas. Until next time, stay safe and try
to smile.


(Ed. Note: Dustin would like to hear what you’re thinking about these days. If you have any thoughts, concerns or observations about our community or the world as a whole, please share them with him at You can also drop him a line to let him know what you thought about his column…or just to say “Hi!”)


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