My mom recently had a knee replacement. I took a good chunk of vacation to be with her and make sure she had everything she needed. I was amazed by how fast the surgery went and floored by the fact the hospital only kept her overnight.
She was released from the hospital around lunchtime, so I took her to Sonic on the way home for a bite to eat. We chose Sonic because she was dying for a decent sweet tea. After stopping by the pharmacy for her medicine and a quick trip to the drugstore for an accessibility tool, we arrived at her house early that afternoon.
We had planned for her to be home later in the day. My sister and brother-in-law had agreed to meet me at her house to help me get her inside and settled. Due to her early discharge, they were both still at work when we got home. My heart sang when I saw my nephew was there because I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to get her up the steps into the house by myself.
There was no need to worry on that front. Mom had assured me that navigating the porch steps would be no problem for her. She said she learned how to do that when she broke her hip several years ago. She was right. She took those steps like a champ, but I still had my nephew on the landing with me right behind her in case she slipped. As someone who fell off my front porch shortly after a hospital stay, I wasn’t taking any chances with her safety.
The hospital sent us home with a large piece of equipment. I don’t know what it’s called, but it has to set on a flat surface, and she puts her leg in it at an elevated angle. Then it moves and stretches her leg, bending her knee at different angles. She is required to use this machine six hours a day, so we had to figure something out.
My nephew and I were pushed to our wits’ ends attempting to find a place that worked. Mom has an adjustable table, but it was too tall to use with her recliner. Folding chairs weren’t high enough and proved slippery. Her kitchen chairs were also too short. The couch was out of the question because it’s too soft and would be extremely difficult for her get out of. We even wrapped a piece of OSB in a blanket and put it on her bed to hold the machine where she was certain would be the perfect spot, but again the height wouldn’t work.
It would have been nice if the doctor had told her she’d be bringing that machine home and accommodation for it might be tricky. As it was, we were surprised and left scrambling to make it work. We measured the height of the machine, the height of every chair my mom owns, and I was in the process of looking at everything from TV stands to footlockers online to try to find a solution when my nephew had a brilliant idea.
He carried his adjustable gaming chair into the living room and raised it to its maximum height. We butted it up against the adjustable table and reclined the back slightly. The setup wasn’t ideal, but it worked. Mom was able to use it and looked sporty in the fancy gaming chair.
It wasn’t all stress, though. I had just explained to my nephew that I have tennis elbow and a bad shoulder, so I shouldn’t be lifting on the 45-pound machine very much. My point in telling him about it was to explain why I wanted to measure everything and plan a strategy before we started lifting on the thing.
Because he’s 21 years old and in still in good health, he was unfamiliar with my malady. He was in the kitchen getting something for Mom when we were ready to put the machine on the bed. I picked it up and carried into her room. I ran into trouble when I tried to lift it over to the center of the bed where we’d placed the board. My shoulder and elbow wouldn’t let me reach that angle, and I was afraid I’d drop it if I tried to push through the pain.
I hollered, “I need your help!”
He came running. When he saw I was standing by the bed, holding the heavy machine, he went to the other side of the bed to help me lower it in place.
While giving me the stinkeye he said, “You shouldn’t be lifting anything that heavy with your baseball elbow. That’s what I’m here for.”
I didn’t think I heard him correctly. I asked, “My what?”
He looked perplexed for moment and then said, “Your baseball elbow. Soccer shoulder. I don’t know. Some sport with a ball. Whatever. Let me do the lifting.”
Lord love him, he had me laughing so hard. Mom even laughed as I explained it’s called tennis elbow, and I do have to be careful, but I wasn’t going to maim myself by lifting the leg machine one time. I’m not going to lie – it did hurt like heck for three days afterward, but I got over it. Tylenol is my friend.
I volunteered to take Mom to her first four physical therapy appointments. After that, my sister, nephew, and I will split the duty between us until she’s able to drive herself. We’re all glad to help her in any way we can.
On the way home from her first therapy appointment I asked, “Aren’t you glad I didn’t buy a Mustang or a Camaro when I bought my Charger?”
In true Mom fashion she replied, “If you had, you’d be driving my Buick right now.”
That told me she was feeling like herself. She wasn’t happy when I bought my car, but she eventually fell in the love with my deep breathing Dodge.
She’s doing very well. She has some pain, which gets really bad when she tries to sleep. She says it’s getting better and should all be worth it in the end. While she’ll be stuck in a walker for a while, all signs point to normal walking without the aid of anything in a few months. Poor Mom has been forced to use a cane for the last few years and absolutely hated it.
My family and I are taking good care of her. We make sure one of us is with her most of the time, and she never misses a meal. She actually complained that I was feeding her too many fruits and vegetables, even though we’ve prepared both beef and chicken for her. I added some shrimp to the mix yesterday and received no complaints.
While she’s healing, she’s making all sorts of plans for family vacations to all of the places she hasn’t been able to visit due to the amount of walking required. I’m looking forward to traveling with her again. We already have a date to go shoe shopping in Branson.
Mobility is a beautiful thing. I’m excited for Mom to regain hers.
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