Pat. Pat. Pat.

You never know what fun things will pop up to do at home, during the off-boating season.  This year, I did have an inkling of what would be popping up, but I didn’t relish the thought, so I tried my best to keep it on the back burner of my mind.  The past two years have been filled with efforts to put off or eliminate the need for a hip replacement, surgery being one of my least favorite ways to pass the time.  The time did come, however, when I knew it had to be done.  The last little bit of cartilage in my right hip wore away, and the grinding bones made their presence known 24 hours a day.  And so, the process began:  Finding a surgeon, going to pre-op visits, having lab work, EKG, X-rays, etc.

At last, the day arrived. Having performed the antibacterial scrub routine twice, and braided my hair out of the way, I put on freshly laundered clothes, and Mike drove me the 3 hours to the hospital. Everything was ready for us. The pre-op nurses loved my braids, and were friendly as they poked, prodded, swabbed and got an IV going. There were visits from the doctor, anesthesiologist and X-ray tech. A last meaningful look and kiss with Mike, and the relaxing medication took me away before I could see the operating room.

The braids are courtesy of my friend, Sissy.

Awaking from surgery is a surreal experience, being in that twilight zone of half present, and half somewhere else. Voices floated around me, and I caught only snatches of meaning here and there. There were frequent checks on my right leg, which was totally numb from a spinal block. I was aware that every so often, ice packs were brought to place on the leg to reduce swelling. I could feel their weight on my leg, but I couldn’t feel the cold.

Later, in my room, a rotation of nurses took over my care.  Each one was kind, and I tried to be courteous even as they woke me from my healing sleep many times to collect vital signs, or monitor my pain level.  The ice packs continued to come, being changed with great regularity.  My leg was regaining feeling, so I now felt the old, cozy ice pack go, and a firmly cold replacement take its place.  And then…Pat. Pat. Pat.  The nurse would place the ice pack in place, and the pats would follow like clockwork, as if to say, “There. You. Go.”  “Oh, how sweet,” I thought.  “They love me here!”  The next icepack arrived, delivered by a different nurse.  I waited.  Sure enough, Pat. Pat. Pat.  “Keep. It. Cold.”  I don’t know how many ice pack changes I went through, but I did pay attention.  Each time without fail, there was a Pat. Pat. Pat.  “Get. Well. Soon.”  “Wow, these nurses are trained in even the tiniest detail,” I thought.  It is such a sweet, subliminal way to show you care.  A way to be able to leave the room, knowing you have figuratively put the period at the end of the sentence.

Practice walking before going home.

The next day, we journeyed home together, my new nurse and I.  Mike had cleared his schedule to take care of my every need.  He even managed the ice pack changes with great regularity.  The spinal block had worn off the day prior, and so when the first ice pack arrived, I waited with some dread.  Yes, there it was:  a new ice pack and a Pat. Pat. Pat.  “You’re. Home. Now.”  The next ice pack was the same thing:  Pat. Pat. Pat.  “I. Love. You.”  With a newly thawed, sensitive leg, it really was time to comment, as the anticipation of Pat. Pat. Pat was beginning to fill me with terror.  We had a good laugh over it, and Mike agreed to do air pats instead.  Problem solved!

It is our pleasure to watch our 2 ½ year old grandson once a week, and we had carefully coached him to approach the left side of my chair to avoid hurting my “broken leg.” To the best of his young ability, he was mindful of this. Since he loves to be a “helper,” Mike sent him over to my chair bearing the next ice pack. He gently placed it on my leg, and then… Pat. Pat. Pat.

It must be in the human DNA. -Beth

My little helper.