Lake Mills man waves to drivers to deal with PTSD diagnosis

LAKE MILLS (WKOW) — Lake Mills Police shared a heartwarming story on social media about a man who spends his free time sitting in his front yard, waving to drivers.

Don Imig does it to brighten other people’s days — but that’s not the only reason. Imig underwent chemotherapy after being diagnosed with mouth and throat cancer.

After his treatments were done, he said that he had a hard time interacting with others and that normal friendly personality had changed.

Eventually he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with PTSD. Doctors said the disorder normally thought to be associated with those who served in the military, can happen to any who experience a life altering event.

Imig found that waving and interacting with drivers from his lawn was a great coping mechanism.

Lake Mills Police Officer TJ Adams recently encountered Imig and shared his story via email to Police Chief Mike Selck. Below is the post:

This is an email from one of my officers- TJ Adams- it made me very proud!

Chief,

Today while I patrol I drove past the guy on V at Cherokee Path who waves at people. After seeing how many people he actually waves at and the smile he has on his face while doing it, I wanted to thank him for brightening people’s day, including mine. His name is Don Imig. He’s 64 years old. After thanking him for brightening peoples day he told me his story. He said he was diagnosed with mouth and throat cancer. He had to lose half of his tongue. The doctors took different parts of his body to sew on the missing half of his tongue. After a long process of Chemo treatments, he was cancer free. Don said after the chemo treatments he thought everything was going to be good but it was not. Don said he was in a dark place. Don said he began to be short with people and really despised everyone. Don knew something wasn’t right because he said he loved people. He said he worked in the medical field all of his life and was a people person. Don said knew something was not right with him. Don then went to the doctors and was diagnosed with PTSD from his cancer experience. Don was confused because he believed PTSD was only for Military Personnel or Police Officers who experience a significant life event while on duty. The doctors gave him some medicine to take. After taking the medicine, Don said he felt a lot better. He began to talk to more people and began to feel like his old self again. Don said he would like people to know PTSD happens to everyone and not just Military Personnel or Police Officer’s but to anyone who suffers a life changing event. Don said finding out he had cancer changed his life. Don says the medicine definitely helps him feel better but he still gets his bad days where he is short with people and just isn’t feeling himself. Don says sitting outside and waving to people helps his PTSD on days where his medicine is working the best. He said he loves seeing the smile on people’s faces when they drive by. He wanted to thank the people waving back at him as they are helping him cope with his PTSD. He said he also gets people looking at him like he is nuts but he said he can deal with that.

I explained to him that his story is quite amazing. Out of all he has gone through and he is still out there waving at people just to make them happy says a lot about himself. I thanked him for doing what he is doing because he put a smile on my face today and I know he does to others as well. After speaking with him I asked if I could get a picture of him. He stated yes. I then asked if he would like to take a picture with me in front of the squad car. Don was extremely happy when I asked that and said of course. He went inside to get his wife to take the picture.(I forgot her name) He asked if I could turn the lights on and I said of course. After taking the pictures, I thanked him again. Attached are the pictures.

I’m glad I stopped to talk to him and get his story. The way he is going about himself day in and day out is inspiring. You really never know what people are through in their life and something as simple as a wave could change that person’s day. Don is a great citizen of Lake Mills and another reason why I’m proud to serve the City of Lake Mills.

Matthew Cash

Matthew Cash

Dayside Executive Producer

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