I just actually spoke with a
gentleman who had a hip replacement
recently and he said that it seemed
like his life started over. He
didn’t have to make the walk arounds
and the work- arounds anymore.
I remember I would come into a room
and immediately assess where there
was a doorknob and where there was a
counter and plan how I would kind of
walk through. Go over
here and hang on for couple seconds,
then go over there and hang on. It’s
like being in a pinball machine.
I think you hit the nail on the
head. We’re scared; we are
afraid of taking ourselves out of
the war zone. I can’t care for me
because how do I get someone else
secure for my loved one? You are
saying that it’s a relatively short
procedure and a relatively short
recuperation, and afterwards, you’re
My mother is 84 and she was
experiencing knee pain and a doctor
said, “Oh you need to have your knee
repaired.” But even with her
physical therapy after the repair,
she never got any relief from the
knee. I took her to my doctor here
in California, the one who did my
hip, and he said, “There is nothing
wrong with your knee; you need a hip
replacement.” We found her a
doctor in Milwaukee who was
recommended by my doctor here in
California. And yet she said,
“Well, I don’t want to go in the
winter; I do not want Daddy to drive
on icy streets when he comes to
visit me in the hospital.” You
know, it was excuses like that.
But she is a great gardener.
Getting on hands and knees and
digging in dirt in the beautiful
Wisconsin summer in her garden is so
important to her, she finally did
it. She couldn’t believe how
easy it was; she couldn’t believe
that she was back to her garden.
I was just in Milwaukee yesterday
and her garden is as gorgeous as
ever. I am just so grateful that she
screwed on her courage and went and
had it done because it was not a big
deal and she knows that now.
You know it’s interesting about your
mom—she was told that it was her
knee. Her knee was what was
hurting. But here is the other
thing I have learned. It all
seems to resonate from the hip—your
knee, your foot, your leg.
It’s almost a given that when
doctors take a look, they often find
that it’s all hip problems.
I, of course, was pretty angry and
dismayed that my mother had to go
through an unnecessary procedure
that was very unpleasant and then to
go to physical therapy where there
was no relief. When I finally took
her to my doctor and he said “You
know, there is nothing wrong with
your knee; it is fine and probably
was fine. This is all
generating from your hip.” And
maybe the lesson there is for people
who are experiencing knee pain, to
check out their hips as well.
I was just disappointed that her
doctor didn’t do that; that he
immediately just thought knee
True, true. I always like to
ask one particular question and that
is: If you had one piece of
advice you wanted to impart to a
family caregiver, what would that
Do not lose your sense of humor. My
grandmother lived with my parents
for the last five years of her life.
At 98, she was still living in her
own house, doing her own cooking and
cleaning. My parents finally decided
she needed to be living with them.
She was so lucky and my parents know
how lucky they were that they were
able to take care of her. She
lived in a really nice room off the
kitchen with her own bathroom, but
it gets trying and it gets tough.
When my mom and her mother, my
grandmother, could laugh about it,
it just kind of reminded me that we
were really all in this together.
This is a family member we loved and
what a blessing it is that they are
still with you and that you are able
to help them. There’s nothing
greater than being able to take care
of an elder in those final years. I
think my mother and father being
able to laugh at some of the crazy,
embarrassing things that were
happening got them through some
tough, tough patches.