Sweetie's been having a good deal of hip pain. Steroid injections have helped. Today we went to see a surgeon who specializes in hip replacements. I sat in a straight-backed chair in the corner. Sweetie sat across the room. If he felt nervous, I couldn't tell. I concentrated on the weird looking plug under the desk, doing my best to avoid 13 year old memories.
Two months after my mom died in October of 2002, I sat in the same straight-backed chair while my father discussed surgery with the same doctor. It was my father's third rodeo. It would not be an easy surgery. Removing the old prosthesis would be tricky. The two men in the room decided to go ahead as soon as the holidays were over. I didn't have much say in the matter. With Mom gone, Dad I would become Dad's caregiver a lot sooner than I expected.
As expected, it was a long, difficult surgery. I stayed with him all night. When he opened his eyes in the recovery room, two things happened. Pain surged through him like a Malibu mud-slide, and he imprinted on me like a baby duck adopted by a Golden Retriever. From that moment on, in some pain and morphine soaked part of his brain, our relationship changed. I stopped being his daughter and became a surrogate wife. His hallucinations featured my mother, but I was the one sitting next to his bed, holding his hand, praying for his quick recovery. Our already complicated relationship became even more convoluted.
A couple days after surgery Dad was moved to the best rehab place in town. Run in a similar fashion to a maximum security prison, patients were well cared for but not coddled. They were expected to get dressed every day, take meals in a community dining room, attend therapy sessions and follow directions without complaint. This method works for nurses and therapists and patients alike. Well, maybe not patients like my father who did not care for being ordered about. What was to be a two week stay was over in four days. Dad told a young therapist to go to hell, and his stay was essentially over. That's when my work started.
I'll be honest, I'm not looking forward to a repeat. But that's not really fair is it? Circumstances are different, right? Sweetie isn't my father. Hip replacement techniques have improved since 2003. Sweetie's insurance won't pay for in-hospital therapy. He'll come home to my anything-but-tightly run ship. I'm now an experienced caregiver, a blogger with an outlet for my frustration.
No decisions have been made. There is much to consider. Anti-inflammatories to try. An insurance company to fight with. We both have time to get used to the idea. Deja vu be damned. As Julien of Norwich once said, "all will be well."
I'm sure I'll be writing more on this subject.