Lately, I have felt like I am trying to outrun a boulder rolling down the hill right towards me. I am trying to outrun it, to keep just ahead of it, averting disaster. This is the life of a caregiver, but it is particularly evident as time marches on.
In the past month, my father, who has a plethora of health issues, including Parkinsons, Dementia, Aphasia, cardiac problems, now has another couple more to add to his list: Bladder Cancer and another hip surgery because the last one didn’t heal properly. Yesterday I made the decision to go back in for corrective surgery to his hip in hopes that it alleviates the pain he has been in. Before I can take him into the hospital, though, I have to take him to the urologist so he can cauterize the tumor growing in his bladder. We just found out that he had a tumor and since he isn’t a good candidate for surgery, we opted to cauterize it periodically to try to stay ahead of the cancer growth. Once he goes in for his hip surgery and then on to rehab, Medicare’s rules don’t allow him to go outside for any doctor appointments, because once you leave skilled, they won’t let you back in without considering it a new episode (which would require another 3-night hospital stay). SO….to avoid that, we are going in to take care of the tumor and then HOPE that it won’t grow TOO FAST while he is receiving rehab because he won’t have another chance to see the urologist for 2 months.
We also have to get him in to see the Movement Disorder’s doc before he leaves for the hospital – he hasn’t been seen by him since last December. Why? Because he unexpectedly fell and had to go in for hip surgery #1. Need to squeeze that in as well.
Hence the feeling of trying to out chase the boulder.
I am so angry about his hip. Something to keep in mind if your loved one has to have hip surgery – particularly if they also have dementia. Make sure you know ALL the details before you agree to anything. I thought I had asked all the right questions. When he fell last time, the doc said he would recommend the least invasive type of surgery, where they simply insert screws to help tighten up the fracture he had suffered (his was a non-displaced fracture). I asked if the rehab would be easier because it was kind of laborious when he had his other hip done, although the outcome was excellent. He said it usually was.
The VERY IMPORTANT PIECE OF INFORMATION HE DIDN’T SHARE WITH ME WAS that this type of surgery requires an individual to maintain a 50% weight bearing status for SIX WEEKS.
Had he told me that, I would have told him that this won’t work with someone like my dad, who cannot remember anything. As a result, the rehab was a disaster. He was forced to be bedridden for 4 weeks (which is terrible for someone with Parkinsons, where exercise is truly an elixir) and then two weeks later, Medicare discharged him for failure to make progress. Nice, eh? If the doc had shared that tiny piece of information, we wouldn’t be where we are today, going in for his THIRD hip replacement surgery. No one should have to go through this, particularly an almost 90-year man. So the moral of this story is make sure you ask about the weight bearing restrictions, or for that matter, find out if there are any restrictions post surgery. Then make the decision based on what you think your loved one can handle.