Dad’s status, two weeks after hip replacement surgery

By | February 20, 2013

My father had emergency hip replacement surgery two weeks ago. I flew down to be with him in Florida the weekend after the surgery and was down in Brooksville (north of Tampa) for a week. Dad is 80 and not super-strong, so as you can imagine, I was, and am, concerned about him.

Dad is bit by bit getting stronger as a result of the in-home physical therapy that he’s receiving, which is good. At the same time, there’s been a big worry: confusion and disorientation. Dad has had days where he’s just out there … where he believes that he was made to lie on the bed for three days and was ignored by all and sundry, where no one would give him anything to drink, and so on.

Finally, on Sunday night, it clicked — we needed to find out if the painkiller he was on, Tramadol, might be causing the confusion. Various websites and anecdotal evidence from friends, plus input from a few actual pharmacists and doctors on my Facebook friends list, led us to conclude that the answer was somewhere between “probably” and “yes”. We took Dad off Tramadol that night — in the sense that we didn’t give him any more after that.

Monday was a “good day” in that he was awake early, rested, and had plenty of energy. But yesterday, Tuesday, was another “bad day” in that he had no energy, no appetite, didn’t want to get up, and was, frankly, depressed. I was worried.

But apparently yesterday’s drowsiness and lassitude was apparently the result of Tramadol withdrawal. Today he’s MUCH better. Much more energy. And, while he unfortunately still remembers all the delusions that he experienced, he’s able to cognitively process that they weren’t real. And he’s very embarrassed by the stuff he said, felt, and did. We keep telling him not to be, but no one likes to think of themselves being delusional, especially when you’re elderly and worried about the possibility of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

My sister Julie came down yesterday from North Carolina and will be there through the weekend to keep him company, help out, and in general provide love and support and coaching. I’m really glad he’s there. My cousin Anne has been a rock as well and we’re all so grateful for everything she’s done to help Dad.

An occupational therapist has been coming this week and Dad has been able to, with help, take a shower. He has a bit of difficulty getting into the shower because he has to lift his leg up to get over the lip of the shower, but once in, he’s good. He’s using a brand new shower chair with back and hand grips and good gripping feet that I bought him last week.

So I think we’ve turned the corner. Hopefully tomorrow will be another “good day” and all days from here on will be “good days”. He has an appointment with his surgeon tomorrow and I believe they’re going to see if it’s time to take the surgical staples out. I counseled him to tell the surgeon that he has an heated pool that he’d like to use to continue getting stronger, and to ask the surgeon if the incision is to the point where he can expose it to pool water. If he’s not ready, he’s not ready, but I know that pool therapy will be very good for him once he is ready.

I thank everyone for their prayers and support during this difficult time. I know many of you have had similar experiences, either yourself or with your own parents and relatives, and your advice is much appreciated.

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