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First off, let me apologize for being late with the post. The last 24 hours have been interesting and not necessarily in a good way. No, nothing dire. Just serious enough to be of concern and to cause some major readjustments to how things are done on the personal side of life. It wasn’t unexpected but, no matter how much you prepare yourself, it can still be a punch in the gut.

Basically, we received confirmation yesterday that my almost 87-year-old mother needs to have a complete shoulder replacement after taking a fall this summer. The fall didn’t cause the problem. It simply made a problem Mom didn’t know she had bad enough it can no longer be ignored. Fortunately, we live in a day and age where this sort of surgery is not the big risk it used to be. Hell, they aren’t even using the “standard” replacement procedure on her. Because of the type of injury, as well as her age, they are going to do what they call a “reverse replacement”. It’s an amazing procedure on so many different levels.

However. . . .

There is no getting around the fact Mom will be 87 by the time she has the surgery next month. That means there are serious complications possible, everything from how she handles the anesthesia to how she manages the recovery and rehab. I won’t lie and say there’s no fear because there is. But, we both have a great deal of confidence in her surgeon and in her PCP, who we will be seeing in 10 days for her pre-op workup. I know neither will let her undergo the surgery if there is any real risk.

Not that it helps the child in me from screaming in terror in the back of my mind.

Add to that the changes in lifestyle both of us are having to undergo both leading up to the surgery and for the months after it. I’m late doing the post this morning because Mom decided I’ve been right to worry about her driving. I don’t want her to stop her volunteering activities because she looks forward to them. Plus, she is active and healthy–save for the bum wing. Last night, she was still insisting she could drive to today’s volunteer gig. This morning, well, let’s say she changed her mind.

This is just a preview of what the three months or so after the surgery. The first 10 days post-op, Mom will be unable to do much of anything for herself. That’s not only because of potential pain, etc., but also because her right arm will be secured to her side and Mom is very, very right-handed. She won’t be able to drive for months. It will probably be 2 months post-op before she can do a lot of things she is used to doing and even then she will be limited.

That means, I have to step in and do not just the chores around the house she’s been doing but will have to be there to help her with simple things like dressing for awhile. Think about how that would impact any of us. My mother is a strong-willed, proud woman and does not like being helpless. So there will be a mental aspect involved in all this as well–for both of us.

Now what does this have to do with writing?

It means I am going to have to adapt. In a lot of ways, it will be like when I was a single mother with a small child at home. Instead of sitting down after my morning coffee and working a regular “work day”, I’m going to have to grab writing time when I can. I foresee getting up early and going to be late. There will be naps when I can grab them. Writing will be done in waiting rooms and whenever I can grab a minute or two.

It means making sure I have the appropriate apps on phone, tablet and laptops and that all of them are set to sync with one another. This is where I love the fact Word and Scrivener are now much easier to sync between machines than they used to be. It means making sure I always have the current projects queued up on whatever machines are with me. It also means making sure I have a simple pad and pen with me because pulling out electronics isn’t always feasible.

It means taking care of myself, physically and emotionally. The last thing either of us needs right now is me getting sick or so stressed I’m not able to do what needs to be done.

It means getting organized. ACK!

Most of all, it means finding time to write to keep sane. What that probably means is less gaming, although that has gown down drastically the last month or so as I’ve been working on multiple writing projects at the same time.

It means, in other words, being proactive and that isn’t always easy.

So if I come here and simply gaze at the lint in my belly button, knock me up the side of the head. For now, I need to sit down and start making lists about what needs to be done to get the house–and the family–ready for Mom’s surgery. Then it is time to write. My goal is to get at least four hours a day of work in once she has her surgery. It might not be all at once. In fact, I know it won’t be. But that is the minimum I can do and still come close to hitting my general deadlines.

That’s the goal, now to see if I can meet it.

Excuse me now while I go do a primal scream or two. Then it’s work–after more coffee–before going to pick Mom up in a couple of hours.

Fingers crossed I manage to keep my sanity between now and the first of the year.


  1. Setting any kind of writing goal under these circumstances is impressive. Good luck! FWIW, one thing I’ve discovered in a lifetime of family crises is that the first few days are the worst, because it’s not humanly possible to predict all the problems and their solutions. By a week to ten days post-surgery you may be into a routine that leaves adequate space for writing time. Or not. Either way, the first week is only made worse if you torment yourself with, “If this happens every day, I’ll never be able to work.” It won’t, and you will.

    1. I know. I keep trying to remind myself of that, especially about the first week to ten days. The biggest issue will be keeping her from getting too bored. I also plan on reminding her how she used to bitch at my dad when he was still alive because he wouldn’t do what the docs said the first few weeks after he’d be in the hospital. That will either work or she will kill me. VBg

      1. You might try talking your stories (plots, characters, whatever) over with her? I’ve known adult writers who entertained their babies by talking over their stories with them, and I suspect having someone who could actually talk back might also work. Help her avoid boredom, and help you get the stories going? Or is mixing caretaking and storytelling a no-no?

  2. Primal screams are good. Hang in there. I’ll add you and your mom to my prayer list. If posts are late, I doubt anyone would squawk much under the circumstances.

  3. Been there with parental health issues. Good luck and prayers for all of you. Since I have been through it, here’s some of what I learned:

    There are services (around here, SF Bay Area) that take unwell seniors to medical appointments and pick them up again. We needed wheelchair carrying, and that taxi guy was a godsend. Check for such things in your area. They can be a big help when you need to be in three places at once.

    We brought a recorder to all doctor appts, so the non-local kids could know exactly what we heard and saw. The doctors didn’t mind.

    When Mom got hit by a car she went into a convalescent home after her surgery to pin the leg bones back together. Having PT on site helped a lot. your mother won’t need that level of care? That’s… mildly surprising, considering the long recovery and the rehab required. Iif you find out she does, not all convalescent home are equal, check reviews.

    If you can afford it, either a temporary stay in high quality assisted living where physical therapy for rehab is available*, or getting one of those home-health-services to send people to your place to help for a few hours a day may save your sanity. And your relationship with your mother. Sometimes it’s easier to be helpless with strangers. As well as just contact with people outside immediate family is healthy.

    It’ was the minor day-to-day things that got to us: showering, nail trimming, bathroom stuff.

    *the one Mom went into after the stroke rented rooms and provided services for people out of the ‘acute’ category of convalescent care, but who still needed more care than family could easily handle.

    1. We’ve got great services around here and she has good insurance. Fortunately. We’re playing that part by ear. The doctor doesn’t seem to think she’ll need it but we’ll evaluate and re-evaluate as we get closer to surgery and then immediately afterwards.

  4. Don’t be a hero. There are a number of companies out there that can provide help for these situations; I got one of them for my mother when she was sickest.

    1. I hear you, Charlie. You may need to pound it into my head some but it is on the list of things to do if necessary. Right now, the doctor doesn’t think it will be.

  5. I know it is not the same thing… But whey protein helped my middle-aged arm heal faster than my bone doctor expected, and there are plenty studies about how it helps bones and muscles grow back. So if your mom can do dairy stuff, think about it.

    I just did a lot of washcloth baths until my arm got better, although I also did full showers with my arm bagged in plastic. One-armed shampooing is annoying but doable. A washable chair in the shower is a common hack.

    1. We are looking at all options like the whey thing. As for showering, once she feels she is able to–and the doctor clears it–her shower has a built-in seat which will help. Our biggest “discussion” right now is on whether or not to install a bar next to the toilet to help her get up. I want to. She is resisting. We finally agreed to disagree until we talked with a friend who is a PT and with the doctor again.

      1. Everything suburbanbanshee says.

        After surgery and when I wasn’t yet up to standing at a sink I found that a wipe down with witch hazel soaked cotton pads very refreshing. 

      2. I use whey protein as a partial substitute for flour in my low-carb desserts. If you do go the whey route, and your mother decides that doesn’t like drinking the shakes, I can send you some receipts for cookies or brownies made with whey.

    2. I found that the kitchen sprayer worked for washing my hair. It made all the difference to my mood to have it clean.

      1. That’s what I did when I had my shoulder surgery years ago. As soon as Mom feels up to it, I’ll make sure she resumes her weekly visit to the beauty shop. That will make her feel worlds better.

  6. I am sorry to hear about the adjustments that have been sprung upon you.  The Spouse says that age isn’t so bad, its the broken that gets to you.  Both you and your mother will be in my prayers going forward.

    Good on you for deciding that it is important that your mother stay involved in life, because it is better.  As another Mad Genius often observes, we are social animals.  (For what its worth, it is far better that your mother decides that she is not up to driving than you having to do that for her.)

    Having been in the south as long as I have if I were closer there would be at least one meal coming your way. 

    1. Thanks. Mom and I have watched up close and personal how important staying involved is. People she worked with who are younger than she is and retired after she did are now “older” than she because they retired into nothingness, if that makes sense. She’d seen it happen before. So before she retired, she made sure she already had volunteer activities, etc., lined up.

  7. Ah! Brings back memories! Both fond and sad. May I recommend shirts a size or two too big, so they’re easier to get in and out of? Elastic waist pants? Slip on or velcro shoes? Sturdy slippers that won’t make tripping easier?

    1. We’ve been looking at and discussing the clothing option. The elastic pants aren’t difficult. She already has some of those. Shoes, well, we’ll argue about them later. It’s been the shirts that she and I have been butting heads over. I finally had to remind her that I’ve been through shoulder surgery and having my arm secured across my stomach for 3 weeks. So I know what I’m talking about. I found some tops in her closet she’ll be able to wear and I’ve convinced her that getting some really big men’s tee shirts for around the house is perfectly fine. Now to get them ordered before she changes her mind.

      1. If she’s not averse to shirts with sf/fantasy imagery on them, I’ve got a number of 4XL and 5XL shirts I’d like to get rid of. They’re leftovers from designs our screenprinters discontinued, and I’m having real trouble getting them to sell.

        If sf/fantasy t-shirts aren’t her cuppa, no problem. But if you think it would work, let me know and we can work something out.

  8. I’ll add you and your Mom to the prayer list. Do what you have to, and we’ll be as understanding, patient, and polite as ever. *evil kitty grin, tail tip twitches*

  9. Hugs. My husband is getting a knee replacement in November, and I’m already considering how surgery and recovery will affect our lives and business activities. So I’ll be keeping you and. your mom in mind as the two of you go through this difficult period, and hoping everything turns out fine.

  10. yeah I’m a bit concerned that I might end up gettign knee surgery if i get a doc that gives a darn…

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