Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mom and the Orthopod

When I arrive at your house, you're impectably dressed and waiting. You know we are going somewhere but you ask me five time from the livingroom and five times in the car where we are headed, and why.

I answer you factually eight times and impatiently twice, but not impatiently enough that you tell me I'm not being nice, so I guess you don't notice my slips.

We have made this appointment for your knees because it's obvious you can't maneuver stairs without using a banister to pull yourself up, and lately you've asked if you can get a cortisone shot. But today you do not remember any of that, and you tell me your knees are pretty good.

We don't know this doctor. Dr. R recommended him and I am glad because the other knee guy, Dr. H, was too rote. This doctor has looked at your x-rays before we arrive (good sign) and asks you to tell him what about your knees bothers you. You say, "The weather".

He says, "No, I mean, can you walk a mile? What can't you do?"

I am amazed he asks my 90 year old mother if she walks a mile. She answers directly, "No doctor, but I never could walk a mile". She and I smile. He continues.

He tells my mother, "Your knees are bone on bone. You could have surgery but I doubt you want that". My mother agrees. He continues, "You should be fine as long as you avoid stairs".

You say, "I can't--my laundry is in the cellar".

He says, "You have to find someone to do your laundry then. You shouldn't do stairs".

You smile. I know this is going right over your proud defiant head.

He tells you again. This time you act surprised. "Oh", you say, "I can't use the stairs?"

He says, "Are you in the same room as me?"

Normally I would find a way to tell him politely but clearly to be more respectful and civil, but my mother does not let on she cannot remember from minute to minute and he is trying his best to make a point.

When you again do not hear, he says, "Look, your knees are not stable. If you continue to use the cellar stairs, you will fall and break your neck and die. Then you won't have to worry about your knees".

My mother smiles.

When we get home, I am determined to use this in-your-face medical appointment to wean you off stairs once and for all. I tell you the doctor has forbidden you to go down the cellar. You protest and refuse, "I am not going to stop doing my laundry". You are emphatic.

I become more forceful, to which you finally say, "kj, you're making me feel like I'm a hundred years old........."


  1. There is so much to this endearing post and all I can think of is the doctor's rude remark:

    "are you in the same room as me?"

    That would be Yes, I am in the same room with an asshole. There I said it and wrote it.

    Damn! When I was in the clinical area, the worst doctors (obnoxious and rude) were the orthopedic surgeons, worse than neurologists.

    KJ, your mother is a beautiful woman and you are a fantastic daughter. May God bless your mother and you!

  2. I love this post and CES's response. What I want to know is, did you take your mother to see Dr House? :)

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. That was a great entry. I agree with ces- what's up with that doctor's rudeness?

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. kj,

    I notice you have some comments that are ads. You may want to turn on your ad verification feature.

  8. I feel like I need to stick up for the ortho. surgeons! I had a great one get me through several years of back treatment. Maybe he was the exception that proves the rule...

  9. ces, tell me how to turn that feature on.

  10. Yes, that doctor needs to work on his bedside (office?) manner.

  11. Tounching post KJ and I know how hard this is for everyone. My grandfather had dementia and fought me until his last days. Big hugs! I love her spunk :)

  12. I think the mental deterioration that can come with old age is sometimes a screen to hide the frailties of a failing body from the mind.

    Sadly, it only works on the person directly afflicted and has the direct opposite effect on close family who feel the pain and frustration all the more acutely.

  13. i really liked this piece (it seemed like a piece of work, and not just a retelling... am i right?). the frustration is there, and the love, and the wistfulness... very nice

  14. this is tender and sweet! I'm glad she has you. I like that she always smiles!

  15. What a great post, KJ -- and your mother, like you, is lovely! Some of the things that come out of doctors mouths amazes me ...

    This week was my grandmother's birthday (she's "39" -- grin) and I sent her some flowers. Her memory is not what it used to be, but her imagination has taken over and helped her deal with the upheaval of moving from home to a care facility. She says the flowers are in her "living room" -- i.e. the bureau at the end of her bed. She's so sweet and has called me a few times to thank me, forgetting she's called before. I love it, because it means I get to talk to her a few times a day! :)

  16. thank you all for your comments. i wrote this story mostly because i thought it was funny--my 90 year old mother telling me i'm making her feel like she's 100. she and i have laughed about it more than a few times.

    i really appreciate all the thoughts about my mom and me. cherrypie, your statement,

    "a screen to hide the frailties of a failing body from the mind"

    is such a wonderful way of looking at and accepting these changes,

    and melissa, your grandmother sounds just like my mother!,

    and ces,

    "That would be Yes, I am in the same room with an asshole. There I said it and wrote it."

    I just might copy this and keep it in my wallet and laugh every time. One friend to another.