Dorothy feels great after her operation and has tips if you’re considering surgery

I had no idea that Moose Drool could spoil.

I don’t know how you could tell anyway, but there was my Number One Son, implacably pouring the last can of the unique beverage down the kitchen drain.

“It’s four years past the pull date, Mother, and it tastes bad,” he explained. I thought tasting bad was part of its charm. It turns out that beer storage is more complicated than anybody knew.

My son, taking his turn assisting my recovery from hip replacement surgery, made the executive decision that four years on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator was lifetime enough for anything. So he poured out my whole collection of assorted beverages, carefully hoarded over the years in case someone visited for whom thirst was more important than taste.

My shiny new hip replacement is now four weeks old. My family has taken turns coming to help me, and they’ve spent time building shelves and organizing storage so they wouldn’t have to worry about my tripping or things falling on my head when I am alone.

They’ve replaced wiring, and rebuilt showers. You know you are loved when your son-in-law spends four days cleaning and organizing your garage.

There are no restrictions on what I can do, I’m walking a mile most days, and I haven’t felt so well in years.

I’ve had plenty of help. My elder daughter used skills learned as an operating room nurse to take charge of my recovery regimen. We often laughed together but there were tears when she feared I wasn’t recovering as well as I should.

She observed ruefully, “You know, other mothers and daughters go on cruises, or shopping, or to the theater, and we end up in the recovery room together.”

She created a formidable file called “Sibling Overview” for each of the siblings to follow as they came to do their turn. This was supplemented by a post-operation time line on the front of the refrigerator. Actually, it goes all the way around to the back and up both sides. You’d have to turn the refrigerator on its side to read all of it.

Also posted on the front of the refrigerator is my Buddy List, which I think is my daughter’s most brilliant and practical idea.

I called on 24 buddies, one for each projected recovery day and asked them to spend an hour or two with me while my current caregiver got errands done, or spent an hour at the gym. These were friends from church, Tai Chi or Urban Sketchers.

Buddies drove my kids and grandkids to the airport, brought food or just brought the gift of themselves. One brave buddy even rode with me as I took my first post surgery drive. There will be a special award for her.

This journey has taken a whole year. It was last May that I realized I couldn’t go on as I was. Over and over my doctor reminded me that age and other factors made me a poor candidate for surgery, and each time I worked hard with my health care team to see that I’d be in the best condition possible. That really paid off.

My message for my friends who might be considering surgery is, take plenty of time to research all of the possibilities.

The fact that your nice doctor lives conveniently in the neighborhood is no assurance of a positive outcome. Look for someone who has successfully performed the surgery often, preferably a thousand times. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out about recent developments. Write everything down. Choose your health care team and buddies carefully.

While my oldest son was visiting me and inspecting the refrigerator, he found an assortment of questionable food items that apparently were past their pull date and he threw them all away. It was dizzying to watch. The very fact that I’m still here is testimony to the fact that I might not be past my pull date. That’s a relief. I have a lot to look forward to.

Without this surgery which has given me back my mobility and my sense of purpose, I’d be one of those little old ladies bent over my cane like the witch in “Snow White.” Heck, that’s who I was last month at this time.

“Mom, it’s a miracle,” my son said.”

He’s right. I know this is the time of year to celebrate Independence Day, but it feels like Thanksgiving to me.

Dorothy Wilhelm is a professional speaker and writer. Follow Dorothy’s blog at itsnevertoolate.com. Contact her at P.O. Box 881, DuPont, WA, 98327. Phone 253-582-4565, email Dorothy@itsnevertoolate. com.

Meet Dorothy

Dorothy Wilhelm will be taking part in an “authors shuffle” on July 15 at Chris Knutzen Hall at Pacific Lutheran University in Spanaway. The event is part of the 50th anniversary conference of the Pacific Northwest Association of Church Librarians.