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What a New Knee Taught Us About Growing Older
January 4, 2016
Husband Paul got a new knee for Christmas. No house guests or trips in the near future and a slower work time for Paul made Mid-December the best time to set aside a few months for surgery and recuperation.

Before the surgery, we naively planned to enjoy his months of down time reading books and watching movies. After the surgery, we discovered that recovery and healing involved more than the rest and relaxation we had envisioned. We were amazed at how much time it took to do physical therapy, meet with caregivers and accomplish simple tasks like taking a shower.
As we talked about family and friends' experiences with health challenges, we realized this experience probably wouldn't be the last time we took a journey like this. As a dress rehearsal for what we would most likely face as we grew older together, the new knee experience taught us some valuable lessons.

Lessons Learned

Be respectfully honest. After a few tense post-surgery days, we both acknowledged that Paul wasn't the best patient, and I wasn't the best nurse. We committed to trying harder and are mostly doing a better job in our new roles.

Stay calm. Things don't always go as planned. After the pharmacy lost Paul's pain medication prescription, I wanted to rant about his pain and how we needed that medication now. But I knew that would only make the situation worse, so I tried to stay calm and kept talking with them until they found the prescription and filled it.

Follow up. When the expected scheduling calls didn't come from the home health care providers, I called the company- numerous times. Although I felt like a pest, I kept calling. The first two weeks of therapy after knee-replacement surgery are critical to a good outcome, so I knew one missed day was not good. Later we discovered that the hospital had given the home-care agency the wrong discharge date, so their schedules were one day behind. After at least five phone calls, the care providers arrived on the right day and gave Paul the care he needed.

Give an extra dose of love. Pain and illness can really mess with your emotions, and neither the patient nor the caregiver feels very loveable. An extra hug or "I love you" really helps make the tough times easier.

A wise friend in my positive ageing book group once said, "Growing older together is not for wimps." Hopefully, our dress-rehearsal will help us be better prepared when the time comes.
©2010 Ageinista L.L.C