My father has HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY at age 85!


Well my father has a new hip and I have a new understanding of what it is like to feel the inevitable pains of growing old, which my parents are managing to do so gracefully. I spent Thursday night, April 30 through Tuesday morning, May 5, with my parents as my dad was starting his recovery from hip replacement surgery. My mother is 88 and she told me she feels like it! Now they will both be using a walker, at least for while.

There is something special about watching your parents get older and helping them deal with the aging process. I suppose it is natural for this to prompt some feelings of gratitude, introspection, and fear, all at the same time. We had several days together to reminisce about the past and speculate about the future. I found myself quite emotional, with tears, laughter, frustration, and joy. First, let me say that I was amazed at the surgery itself. From the description, I learned that the doctors set up a table in the O.R. full of variety of manufactured hip joints. Then they spread out their saws and tools so it looks like a carpenter’s workshop.

After sawing into the exisiting bone to remove the worn out hip, they try out several different synthetic hip joints in the opening until they find the right one. My father is 6’5″ so they had to use a very long one. Fortunately, they found a good fit, so the recovery went better than expected. He did not even need general anesthesia. We were concerned and my mother was well-beyond WORRY, which my grandma always told us was her middle name anyway. In this case, it was warranted, given his age, bad heart, asthma, poor blood circulation, and many other ailments not uncommon for a 85-year old man. My husband was with them during the surgery, then Zoe and I joined them for the remaining days in the hospital and the big move back home.

The day after surgery, my father was walking down the hall and learning to manuever his new hip joint. He was warned to follow three precautions to be sure the new hip does not slip or pop out in the new few months: 1. Do not cross your legs; 2. Always keep your hip above your knee, and 3. Don’t ever go pigeon-toed.

His recovery went so well, that the insurance denied the usual week-long stay in a rehab unit, so after four days in the hospital, I helped him back into the comfort of his own home, with a few modifications. There would be no trips up the long stair case to their bedroom for at least a few weeks, so we set up the hide-a-bed in the family room. Greg and Pam took over on Tuesday when I had to get back to teaching. They modified the bed to raise it and helped line up a raised toilet seat.

During this experience, I was so touched by how attentive and worried my mother was. It was all very difficult for her. She wanted family to be close by to help her deal with things. In fact, this is first time she was not shy about asking for help. It was such a privlege to be able to help both of my parents. They have done so much for me. I loved to watch them kiss each other and pray together over the hospital bed. My father has a sharp memory and was so good to explain the procedures and details to my mother. Mom helped him remember to take his pills and wear his robe down the hall. They complement each other in so many ways, and neither one is truly complete without the other. It was refreshing and surprising to see how they support one another in an atmosphere of mutual respect and love.

I found myself remembering many fond childhood experiences as we passed the hours in the hospital room. We laughed about funny times with Grandma Bills, like the day she threw her purse out the window in a busy intersection. You see, she felt it was unsafe to ride in a motor vehicle while crossing a bridge. One time my father decided not to stop and let her out, but she outwitted him, but tossing out her purse! Then he had to stop. 🙂 We had a great time remembering many of life’s interesting little twists. I will certainly treasure those four days I spent in Pocatello. I cherish my parents, and I am filled with enormous gratitude for their strength, example, and LOVE.