I’m missing my second CSA pack out of the season due to another doctor’s appointment in La Crosse for steroid injections in my lumbar spine. In the morning, I grapple with what feels worse, the guilt of missing a busy day on the farm, or the estranged and conflicting feelings of stepping into the sterile, dead-eyed healthcare system. To be clear, I don’t blame them one bit for their demeanor. They’ve been through hell. I feel like a complete alien here, yet attempt to navigate according to acceptable social norms, answering the monotone questions and shuffling into the areas they ask me to go. However, once again, I realize how far-flung strangers transform into present human beings when I timidly try to make conversation by telling them I’m a farmer. Eyes brighten, smiles widen, and relatable stories fill up the frigid exam room. It is a connection that never fails to surprise me.