Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Big Fix

On Thursday my step-dad went to see an orthopaedic surgeon about his crumbling hip.  The surgeon and my step-dad used to work together, so it wasn't just a consultation, it was a reunion of old buddies.

Dr. O. "This looks pretty bad.  You're going to need a full hip replacement."

Step-dad "I've been in excruciating pain."

Dr. O. "When would you like to have the surgery done?"

Step-dad "Today, if that's possible."

Dr. O. "No problem, I'll just add you to the end of my list."

And that was that.  Instead of suffering the normal pace of Canadian public health care, which requires waiting for 3 - 4 months or more to have tests and surgery, he was whisked away for the procedure that very afternoon.  He barely had time to call and inform my mom and I before they wheeled him to the O.R.  It helps to be well-connected.

As soon as we heard that the procedure was complete, Ken and I picked up my mom and went to the hospital.  Not only was my step-dad awake and smiling widely at the sight of us, he looked better than he had in months.  He'd had the procedure done without general anesthetic, so he wasn't dopey.  Instead, they gave him an epidural.  He couldn't feel anything from his waist down.  It was the first time he'd been pain-free since July, and he was thrilled.

(I don't know about you, but I don't think I'd want to be even slightly awake if I had to undergo orthopaedic surgery.  I mean, (squeamish alert - skip to the next paragraph if you're a fainter), there must have been power tools in use.  Drills, saws, the smell of bone dust...  He's a fearless one, my step-dad.  It didn't bother him one bit.)

He's been healing by leaps and bounds ever since.  The nurses have been encouraging him to take a few steps with a walker, and he says that he can feel himself gaining strength.  He got a little overzealous last night while he was still doped up on pain medication.  Reaching for something he couldn't quite get, he decided to get out of bed without supervision.  Predictably, he fell down and bonked his noggin on the floor.  Fortunately a) there were people in the room visiting another patient, so they summoned a nurse immediately and b) the only injury was a slight bruise on his head and a dose of humiliation.  When we went to see him this afternoon every nurse who came in the room scolded him again for good measure, and reminded him to stay in bed.  Troublemaker.

He says the hospital food's not bad, but he's trying to stick to a low-carb diet.  Therefore, we're bringing him fat-free yogurt and cottage cheese; chocolate bars; single-serving tins of flavoured tuna fish; and little tins of V-8.  His stash of speciality food is tucked into bed with him because there's really nowhere else to store it.  He eats a whole tub of cottage cheese every day, so it doesn't have a chance to spoil.

The biggest challenge was obtaining the correct chocolate bar.  He told my mom he wanted a Crunch bar, which he described as "the one with popcorn in it".  He was talking about Nestle Crunch, which in fact contains puffed rice.  My mom, not being familiar with chocolate bars at all, went out and bought him Crunchie bars, which are made of sponge toffee.  She almost bought Crispy Crunch, (with the weird flakey peanut stuff) but thought the better of it at the last minute.  I don't blame her for being confused by all these different "crunchy" candy bars, none of which bear the slightest resemblance to one another in terms of composition.  Step-dad didn't get his preferred chocolate at today's visit, as the Crunch bar is not easy to find, but on the way home we found some at an independently run variety store, so he'll be stocked up tomorrow.

Anyway, despite his tendency for shenanigans (such as falling on his head) I'm not worried about him.  He's well-cared for by the nurses, and during visiting hours he has an entourage worthy of a king, fetching him everything he could possibly want, providing sympathy and conversation.  He'll probably be discharged on Tuesday.  As for his ongoing care, it has yet to be determined, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.  Ken has taken some time off from freelance work, so fortunately he's available for step-dad-sitting and errands.  Of course my mom will do whatever she has to do.  And I'll do what I can, although I know that what he's counting on me to do is not to hover by his bedside, but to represent him at the family business and keep everything running smoothly.  I can handle that.


Jameil said...

Wow! I need to get me some connections! I don't need a new hip or anything but you never know when that sort of thing may come in handy! Glad he's feeling better!

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Not sure I would want to get tossed into the schedule all willy nilly. I someone think the surgeon might want to rest up and think about the game plan a bit. Glad everything went well!!

DarcsFalcon said...

That's wonderful your s-dad got in to surgery so fast! Yay! How happy you all must be to see him getting treatment for a pain he's had for so long.

He is a brave man. I've gone through childbirth without drugs of any kind - and we're talking 9 & 10 lb babies here, but you couldn't pay me to go through a hip replacement without being totally out for that!

I hope you had a good New Years!

Jenski said...

Awesome - your step-dad (and you and your mom) didn't have time to worry about surgery! Hope he's still recovering nicely and will be home soon (where you will not hover over him).

Happy New Year!

DarcKnyt said...

HOLY SMOKE. How does a man get a surgery scheduled the SAME DAY?! He's ... He's MAFIA, I tells ya! A hooked-up guy!

Now ... how do I get hooked up like that? I need a new back. ;)

Glad he's doing okay now.

Sparkling Red said...

Jameil: Thanks! Yes, it always pays to know people who know people, if you catch my drift.

Ron: Nah, that surgeon's been doing hip replacements for around 40 years. He could probably do it in his sleep. Although I think I would object if he came right out and told me that that was his plan. "We'll do it at 3am, on my sleep shift." No thanks.

DarcsFalcon: Sakes alive, that's some crazy natural birthing! You must have robust hips to have carried those big babies. I bet they won't need to be replaced. (your babies or your hips) ;-)

Jenski: Yes, it worked out well. My mom is an Olympic-caliber worrier. Today she got very worried because my step-dad had had a case of the hiccups since the day before and it had kept him from sleeping well. While there was a plot on Grey's Anatomy in which someone died of the hiccups, I think that's fairly rare in real life. Anyway, they were gone by the time we finished our visit.

DarcKnyt: Well, you could start with pre-med, and then apply to medical school, get through that and a few years of residency, and then by the time you've been a practicing doctor long enough to have loyal colleagues, you might be ready to have some of your bits replaced! ;-)

Lulú said...

It certainly helps to be well connected indeed! I'm glad all went well.

Btw, I think he learned his lesson the hard way. Hopefully, he'll stay in bed tomorrow and eat his puffed chocolate like a good boy. :)

LL Cool Joe said...

Don't tell me off for scanning this blog post ok? I'm at the hight of my neurotic squeamish "I may die at any moment" stage of the week.

Lynn said...

He sounds like quite a character. I'm glad he is doing better.