Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hip replacement for my long-suffering Mother

My mom's birthday (77) is coming up in less than two weeks. On Friday she is undergoing a hip replacement operation that she (and her children) hope will restore some mobility and improve her temper. The hospital she's going to has a good long history of success for this procedure. She'll have a week's recovery there and start physiotherapy the day after the op. Then she'll move to a seniors' residence where she knows quite a few people and where she'll have a private apartment with a kitchen (or she can use the cafeteria), and access to nursing and physio care as well (like she says, she can afford it). Once she's assessed as able to take care of herself she'll move back home.

Mom isn't scared of surgery -- she had a bunion and hammer toe repaired a few years ago (she also ended up at that residence after a day at home when she realized she couldn't manage). And she's used to pain, I guess...

The hip disability (osteoarthritis, of course) is compounded by long-term rheumatoid arthritis, which she contracted at about 30 years of age. Her knuckles are "drifting" (the deformity caused by swelling and inflammation in the hands) so she can't bowl any more (five-pin); her right knee (where the first symptoms started) has only about 15 degrees of movement; both elbows and her lower back are also affected. Since she's lived in her house I don't think she's ever walked the 200m round trip to the mailbox. And on shopping trips she can only walk about 50m before she has to sit down and rest. Another complication is that one of the drugs that suppresses her RA symptoms affects her lung capacity. She gets breathless walking around the kitchen sometimes. She was an avid golfer but hasn't played in a few years. And she has awful pain in her lower back.

And she doesn't manage stress well, which complicates a lot of things, such as sleeping, eating, and thinking. She admits she looks for stuff to worry about!

When she first started getting tests for the op, she was asked if she had anyone to help her at home. She said, well yes, I have three grown children! One is out of province and works full time, one is closer to home but works full time on an irregular shift (60-hour weeks), and one is not available at all. So she's done the sensible thing and booked herself a room, thank dog.

I know a quite few people who've had this done: two male co-workers, one under 40 years old and one was about 24; a friend, aged 48 at the time, and whose mother has had both hips done; another co-worker in her early 60s who was thinking of scheduling her second.

One thing, though -- I'll try to stop envisioning the procedure I once accidentally saw on The Operation: the surgeon was using a good-sized carpenter's hammer and chisel to remove the old hip...probably a reciprocating saw too...ugh!

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