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‘Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe’

Muriel Hip surgery in hospital, 2017

After surgery, in my lovely springtime robe

My oh-so-clever friend Sandy once said: ‘Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.’ I like it. I know it by heart. However, if I have any talent, it is my great ability to worry — a lot. Worry is what I do best of all!

So, told I would have to go home just three days after hip-replacement surgery, I panicked — what else? — and worried! How would I manage? My leg muscles, after months of severe pain, were in miserable shape, more like wet noodles than muscles. How could I NOT worry?

I’m 80. My children live in the U.S. They care. They came. Susan was here for my surgery. She was terrific. Rafi came after I got home to help. He cooks such scrumptious food, I gained two pounds while he was here. Still, they need to go back to their own lives.

Another worry? I have a vestibular disorder, which causes imbalance and unpredictable dizziness, often brought on by stress. Surgery IS stressful and I had a terrible siege of dizziness after my knee surgery in 2011. It was a disaster.

Whadaya know. As Sandy’s wise saying indicates, my worrying WAS a waste of time and energy. After surgery at UBC Hospital, I learned about the Transitional Care Unit (TCU)  right at the Koerner Pavilion, and was able to go there for rehab and care until I was ready to go home.

How come I’d never known about this possibility? I wrote about things like this as a columnist, yet had no idea the unit existed. It was a perfect fit. True, my first night there I had a roommate with dementia who cried out all night in a language I didn’t recognize. The very next night, however, I was blessed with a well-read, clever and interesting roommate, Howard Greaves, who, thankfully, also has a great sense of humor. (A necessary trait to survive the couple of weeks he spent with me).

Howard Greaves.

With Howard Greaves, who survived two weeks as my roommate. Howard deserves a special award for putting up with me.

Another blessing with having my surgery and staying  at UBC was that my dear ‘daughter’ Amy works there.

IMG_0231

My beautiful Chinese ‘daughter’ Amy

Amy visited and checked on me whenever she arrived to work, at her lunch break, and on her way home. Bless her, she also helped me survive the hospital food by cooking my favorite Chinese dish and bringing it in for me. She also would buy and bring me tastier food from outside. Hospital food, after all, is hospital food.

At the TCU, I had much needed, supervised physio five days a week, was helped with my ability to walk, and taught how to get my operated leg up onto my bed — no small feat. The nurses and I were given clear instructions about what I could or could not do so my vestibular disorder wouldn’t cause a fall and create a disaster.

There was a reasonable fee, (I understand it can be discussed if it is a problem). Dr. Reinhold Bernat, in charge of my case, was present and accessible when I needed to talk to him, patient with my concerns, and obviously caring — I know I was lucky.

Yes, the TCU was a good match for me, but, you ask, was there anything I felt was not up to par? Yes! We were allowed only one shower a week. I wasn’t thrilled with that, but survived.

Should you or loved ones live in the area and require it one day, I want you to know about the UBC Transitional Care Unit. Or, if there is such a service where you live, try to inquire about it. I am truly grateful it was there for me. And yes, I’m doing well.

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Bionic Woman

Muriel Hip surgery in hospital, 2017

One day after surgery, jazzy robe

Hey everyone. I’m a bionic woman! I’ve got a brand new hip. Those warnings at the airport will be ringing and clanging away, bringing on the guards en-mass next time I try to get through security.

I’m also a delicate flower. After knee-replacement surgery six years ago, I had a terrible allergic reaction to whatever they administered during the operation. It lead to my declaring to all who would listen that it would be over my dead body I’d submit to another such procedure. But the pain became so unendurable, the hip had to be replaced. But I told my surgeon in no uncertain terms I didn’t want anything but a spinal. Absolutely nothing!

So it happened I was totally awake during the procedure. I was unable to see what they were up to, but the sounds in the O/R were definitely intriguing. The first thing I heard was my surgeon giving a warning to his colleagues: “Watch what you say. She’s awake.’

What would they have said? Would they have gossiped about colleagues? Wondered who was sleeping with whom? Discussed politics? Commented about my imperfect body? I kind of wished he hadn’t said that. I love gossip. It might have been fun.

Old Lady with walker

Is this what I looked like  with the two-wheeled walker?

They tucked me in solidly on my side so I wouldn’t turn over or move during the

Mom in Hospital

Hospital gown, a fashion statement indeed

operation. Things sounded more like a furniture workshop than an O/R. I heard the whirring of a saw, the banging of hammers, and then more all over again. Maybe that’s what surgeons do on the side in the O/R — build dressers or desks, and fit drawers snugly into them while they fit a new hip snugly into your body.

Being awake during surgery wasn’t a problem, but since I was wide awake, I admit ‘recovery’ was uncomfortable. I trembled so uncontrollably, I was sure I’d break some teeth. (I didn’t.) The anesthesiologist, constantly by my side, said it was due to low blood pressure and that I could not control it — it was out of my control. That didn’t keep me from trying though. Still, recovery passed quickly enough and there were absolutely no bad side effects afterwards.

For me, it was well worth doing without all the drugs I seem allergic to. However, I worried about having to go home 3-4 days after surgery — which is what they said. My leg muscles were so weak after months of waiting, I couldn’t imagine how I would be able to make it on my own so soon.

Then, the most wonderful thing happened. I was sent to a ‘Transitional Care Unit’ at UBC Hospital (where my surgery took place). I had no idea it even existed. I want you to know about it too and shall write about it next time for sure.

Meanwhile, stay well.