Update on Surgery and Mother’s Hospitalization

Thanks to all of you for your interest and concern in my recovery from a bilateral hip replacement. I’ll be posting separately on the great performance of the Hospital for Special Surgery.

The short version is I was designated before I left NYC to return to Alabama as in the top 1% of hip replacement recoveries. At day 9, I was at the point most patients reach only by the end of the first month. Even the Alabama physical therapist who came to assess me and start my home program was stunned.

I attribute that result to extremely high pain tolerance, good general health, and doing what I could to maintain strength and flexibility up right up to the procedure. I had no surgical site pain (except when doing things that pulled hard on the tape over the incisions) with having only a normal tail-off of the epidural for the day and a half of the surgery and taking Tylenol for a tiny bit longer, when they kept offering it to me after that. The Hospital for Special Surgery doctors and nurses found it remarkable that I had no pain.

The big source of discomfort was sleeping on my back. It was all bound up before the surgery due to how I was compensating for my busted hips, made worse by the flight to NYC and then the position they put you into to do the procedure. And merely sleeping on your back will lead to back unhappiness if you can’t put a pillow under your knees (most assuredly not allowed!). My surgeon said that after the first day, sleeping on my side would not impede recovery, but it would be unpleasant to do so. He was right. I was so puffy in the entire area I didn’t even try for the first week (and it’s not nice smooth puffy but lots of weird big lumps). It wasn’t until the second night that it occurred to me to ask for hot packs to relax my back, which made a huge difference.

Having gotten off to a speedy start, I now feel like I am being held back. The New York and Alabama physical therapists are making me retain my gait. Mind you, I was seeing orthopedists as soon as I could walk and no one bothered trying to change how I compensate for some structural issues. So if I were allowed to walk any old way now, I’d be out and about. Instead I am having to walk slowly around the house with a walker (no weight on it, just to keep my upper body out of the equation for now), only 5 mins at a time but 5 sessions, going up to 6 tomorrow, concentrating hard so I do things differently. Grr. This plus >30 mins a day of other exercises.

I am sparing you the gory details of the story where two of our four aides, one the owner of a tiny agency, the other her employee, totally misbehaved while I was getting my hips done. And this with my brother here most of that time!

One of the aides regularly came late for her AM shift even though she was putting in for full time (and unlike other agencies in town, this one had no clock in/clock out procedure to verify her hours). Both aides abandoned my mother, one twice for an hour, the other for 40 minutes. Mind you, no agency in town allows that. Aides are supposed to stay with the client except when going on bathroom breaks or performing authorized tasks, like cleaning or errands. They aren’t even supposed to leave the room for personal calls unless it is urgent. One aide from a different agency was fired for walking off the property.

They also tried picking fights with our best aide, in a not-subtle effort to try to get her to quit and take her hours.

When my brother called the agency head to discuss performance issues, he didn’t even get to the abandonment before she started screaming at him (he prudently had a witness to the call). She then called me in the hospital, literally the day after I was out of surgery, to shriek at me about how my brother was lying, how she had recorded everything, how she couldn’t be fired, and how she was going to have me listen to his supposed lies. I have never heard so much venom in anyone’s voice before, including actresses.

I fired her and her partner in crime. She then threatened to send a false report to state adult protective services. So I had to quickly paper up that a disgruntled ex employee was threatening to make bogus allegations, and that a report of her misconduct was forthcoming (I sent that in too).

We had kept the agency head’s position open after she got Covid (and frankly looked to have exposed me and my mother; I attribute our not getting it to using twice the frequency of our usual povidone iodine gargles and nose spray for the following week, as well as using other prophylactics like Vitamin D and zinc). It appears she took that a sign of weakness.

My mother’s story is not so happy. She was listless on Sunday and got worse as the day went on. I had to assist getting her in the wheelchair to go to bed (fortunately I braced her while standing up straight, so no harm to new hips), and aide could not get her out of the wheelchair in the bathroom. So off to the ER.

She was diagnosed with an early case of pneumonia which the hospital was pretty sure it could knock out with antibiotics. She was also dehydrated (the aide and I kept pressing her to drink that evening and she kept refusing) and her blood pressure was high.

The next day, the aide that spent the day with her came back crying. My mother was “gone” and worse, hallucinating. The hospital was also only sending nurses in what seemed to be only once a shift. The evening aide found she needed her diaper changed (!!!) and they’d just left her dinner, and didn’t try to get her to eat it.

I called and had the nurses add to her notes that she needed a neurological exam for possible Lewy Body dementia (she has had body rigidity, another symptom, although when I reached one of my two friends who’d had a parent die from it, she said it usually shows up at a much younger age).

When I finally reached the MD, I had to browbeat a bit to get him to order an exam. He argued that old people often hallucinate when they get really sick, and it didn’t matter much what kind of dementia she had if she had dementia, since the (non)treatment would be the same. I called him out by saying Haldol could be prescribed to an Alzheimers patient but it would be detrimental to a Lewy Body patient. And what about having a baseline?

Today she was much more alert although she did tell the AM aide she was in Europe and it took some doing to persuade her otherwise. But the flip side is she recalled a lot of stuff from right before she went to the hospital, but has no memory of the day when she was hallucinating.

Things are now going to get tricky. My mother really wants to leave and thought she would be discharged Thursday. She will be in the hospital till at least Friday because she’s still weak. And she’s not going home.

Her big issue is she’s lost muscle mass due to refusing to walk again after a compression fracture of the spine in May last year. The MD says she also appears protein deficient, which he says is very common in old people (they just don’t eat enough normally even if they eat a lot of protein; may also be due to digestive issues). He’s doing a workup on that.

The doctor wants her to go to a rehab facility for 2-3 weeks. It sounds mean but that’s the only way she might do the work to gain enough strength to assist the aides minimally in her transfers to and from her wheelchair. She’s repeatedly sent physical therapists away when I’ve arranged for them to instruct her at home and also refused to perform even minimal exercises I devised for her.

When she is stood on her feet, she has lost the ability to sense where she ought to be in space. If she merely gets to the point where she can stand on her feet in a walker, that would help the aides enormously in transferring her (as in they can mainly pivot her). That is a modest enough goal that I hope will be attainable. Otherwise she’s a dead weight and would have to stay in mainly in bed and be lifted by a Hoyer hoist. I don’t think she’d want to live very long if she were permanently bedridden.

So with this background, I will need to visit her daily once she is in rehab. That means yet more time away from the site, between that and my own rehab. I hope I can get by with just having Lambert and Jerri cover Links all the time until I am back to a semblance of my old normal. So please be patient.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. PlutoniumKun

    I’m very happy (but entirely unsurprised) to hear you are recovering so very rapidly. I think the orthopedic surgeon is likely used to having patients who haven’t done much exercise in years. Fit active people recover far faster from this type of operation.

    Elder care is such a nightmare, it doesn’t matter what system is in place. Your mother is so fortunate to have someone like you to fight her corner. When my parents were ailing, I was fortunate that my siblings include medical and social work professionals, so they were able to identify problems much more quickly than the unqualified, and they knew how to sort out the problems. If it was just me alone, I would have been hopelessly out of my depth.

    I’m often asked why I work so hard on my own health and fitness, especially with fasting and resistance work and attention to maintaining cognitive health. The answer is simple – I want to put off being infirm for as long as I possibly can, I’ve seen the difference between those who are fit and healthy facing old age, and those who are not. I know which one I want to be.

  2. Mikey Joe

    Best wishes on a full recovery from your surgery.I
    I can fully relate to the difficulties that you described with your mother’s care.

  3. BillS

    Thank goodness you are a tough one Yves. It’s good to see you back! All the best in your recovery. I may not post much, but I read NC every day. You, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, PlutoniumKun, Vlade, the Rev, and the members of the Commentariat have become sort of an extended family..and when one family member is ill, we are all concerned. Is it too early to raise a glass to you?

  4. Tom Stone

    Yves, congratulations on your recovery and my condolences about your Mother.
    Simply put, dealing with your Mother will be hard.
    I went through it with both of my parents and your Mother is very fortunate to have you in her corner

    I’ll add a plug for the late Jane Brown’s book on movement, I had more success after two months studying with her than I had from the prior two years of conventional PT after my spinal injuries, she was a Ballet Dancer who worked with injured dancers for decades.
    It made a normal life possible again for me.
    For some definitions of normal…

    1. J7915

      Would it be proper to give the name of this book? Web site rules etc. Have a daughter who had spinal surgery recently, might guide her in regaining strength in lower back.

  5. Brooklin Bridge

    So glad for your rapid recovery and sorry to hear of your mothers troubles.

    Things do sort themselves out, though they have a funny way of being complicated…

    Best wishes!

  6. The Rev Kev

    Oh man, it never rains but it pours. And here I was thinking that our Yves was probably sitting around between exercise sessions just catching up on her reading. Good to hear that you are on the bounce-back so quickly and it looks like all those gym sessions gave you an edge with your health. Condolences about the problems you are having deal with in taking care of your mother while dealing with idiot aides. Take all the time you need to get back to full strength and I know that everybody here is wishing you their best.

  7. Katiebird

    Thank you for posting this update, Yves. I’m very glad your post surgical progress has been so successful. I’m really sorry to hear about your mother’s health however. You didn’t mention it but did they test your mom for a UTI? That can cause some scary hallucinations in elderly patients. You are both in my thoughts.

      1. CanCyn

        Hi Yves. Good news about your recovery.
        Keep pushing the docs about the UTI (that test is notoriously false negative) or perhaps some other kind of infection. Katiebird is right, infection often manifests in elders as confusion, hallucinations and dementia-like symptoms. My father was incorrectly diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia and put on heavy duty tranquilizing meds. Someone finally found the UTI and once that was treated and cleared up he was very much his old self again. Don’t even ask me about the fight to then get him off the tranquilizer. Sigh.
        I wish you all the best with your Mom, it is a tough row to hoe. Remember to continue to take care of yourself.

  8. c_heale

    Yep, recovery from surgery can take some time. Be patient, it will be over sooner than you think.

    Wishing you and your mum the best.

  9. Oh

    Yves, So glad to hear that you’re on your way to a speedy recovery. It speaks to your healthy lifestyle and regular exercise. You’re amazing because while you’re recovering from a surgery to replace both your hips, you’re active in helping your mother out when she needs you the most. Hats off to you.
    Best wishes to you and your mom.

  10. hemeantwell

    Congratulations on your near-miraculous recovery, Yves. I’m thankful that you have energy left over for the website, given your having to go into the lists to help your mother. Those aides sound malignant, like characters in an aftercare version of The Jungle. Hopefully they’ll be purged, they’ve likely brought considerable pain into the lives of the vulnerable.

  11. orlbucfan

    I’m echoing the commentariat in wishing you the very best, and godspeed for a full recovery. I, too, have practiced fitness and healthy diets my whole life. It works and how! Yves, my mother died from complications of full blown dementia. You are walking in some difficult shoes. I know and salute you. Please take care and glad you’re back!

  12. Dave in Austin


    I’m sitting here in blue collar RI, a healthy 77 year-old dealing with a sick, old relative, drinking coffee and thinking “Now I know where Yves got her toughness from”.

    Your mom sounds like a piece of work in the good sense; almost impossible to deal with at times but refusing to go gently into the night. Hard on you right now but… “More power to her”. As my end approaches I will probably be drifting off remembering wonderful days in Europe too.

    And you are dealing with two hips replacements at the same time which adds to the burden. The only joint replacement people I know who recovered rapidly are like you. They pushed the envelope, took responsibility for themselves, dealt with pain… and recovered twice as fast as most people. Keep it up.

    Then there is human nature to deal with. The worst aides are criminals; the best are wonderful. Not the sort of people you and I usually socialize with, they are seriously underpaid and almost always women living a tough life of their own.

    If your experience is like mine (helping a maiden aunt and my mother in the last years), you will find that some people you may not have liked and respected turn out to be the ones who are steady, thoughtful and willing to put in the effort. For me the whole think was a humbling experience. All I can say is you will never regret having done the right thing.

    With affection,

    Dave in Austin

  13. Carla

    Thank you so much, Yves, for taking the time and energy to share this update. You and your mother are constantly in our thoughts.

  14. ex-PFC Chuck

    Yves, good to hear you’re bouncing back so quickly. And best wishes handling the difficult situation with your mother.

  15. Arizona Slim

    Speaking as someone who dealt with similar maladies in both my parents, my heart goes out to you. At the same time, I’m delighted to read about your own recovery.

  16. michael hudson

    Thanks so much for telling us what you and your mother have been going through. Other NC members and I have avoided bombarding you with questions because we indeed thought that you would need all your time and energy to cope. So your post is answering all our concerns collectively.
    The story of your mother’s aids is amazing — yet I’ve heard similar stories up here, replete with theft, abandonment, etc. It seems to be a generic problem for the profession. If there’s a certification process (for insurance reimbursement), can you decertify them?

    1. Basil Pesto

      It seems to be a generic problem for the profession.

      I wonder how it is in various other countries. I have a hunch that it’s markedly worse in the USA than other western countries but that’s all it is; a hunch. I have no experience of the profession myself.

      Best of luck with everything, Yves.

  17. Rod

    Thanks for the energy and effort to give us the Sitrep.
    Your post op is some light in the dusk.
    The baby of your efforts is in capable hands as you have chosen your allies well.
    First things first.
    Continued strength going forward.

  18. The Historian

    You have all of our best wishes and have had for a long time, even though I know we all wish that we could do more for you and your mother! Here’s hoping that the future brings better things!

  19. savedbyirony

    Very glad to hear that your surgery and recovery are going well. I hope so much that your mother will be released to a good rehab facility and you will feel comfortable and confident with her being there. In the past you have said that your mother did not want to use a Hoyer sit-to-stand lift (and that her house would not accommodate one) but if the rehab facility has one she might want to try it out. My mother suffered much as you describe your mother suffering dealing with transfers, etc., and she did not want to use a lift either. But the sit-to-stand changed her life and she credited it with giving her a few more good years, both physically and emotionally. If your Mom is still strong enough to use one and somehow her living spaces could accommodate the a lift, one might really help. (The sit-to-stands are much easier to use than those for bed bound people.)

  20. roxan

    Caring for a sick elder while recovering yourself is awful–been there, done that! The only suggestion I can make is to ask the nurses at the rehab center if any of their cnas moonlight and are good. In general, the ladies who work as aides are those who can’t read well enough to even work as a store clerk i.e. have nothing to offer but a strong back so not easy to instruct.

  21. d w

    get well soon!
    my wife had lots of experience (12+ years) with dementia (her mom had it), and i wouldnt wish that on any one, as that is very painful, but she did have some good moments over that time. while there was only a short time when her mom aides, mostly she had assisted and dementia care housing. which had its bad moments, and caused her to move from one to another, until she found that was so much better than any other (we did have to move to where it was located)

  22. Bob

    Wonderful news about your surgery and your outstanding recovery. Way to go. !!

    And on the other side of the coin very sorry to hear about the troubles that your mom is experiencing. Hope she improves too.

  23. Darius

    Regular NC readers won’t at all begrudge you taking the time to focus on your and your mother’s optimal health. We owe you so much for bringing us critical information we otherwise wouldn’t see. NC has had a huge impact on my worldview. I am grateful and want you to be in the best of health, for your own sake and ours.

    Coincidentally, my elderly dad is in rehab for his second hip replacement. It’s not going well because he doesn’t like the place and is on somewhat of a strike. I’m trying to move him but also convince him his behavior only hurts himself. He either regains mobility or remains bedridden and prey to complications like pneumonia. So I sympathize with you both. My hat is off to you for juggling your own situation and your mother’s.

  24. Anonymous 2

    Best wishes, Yves, for a continuing good recovery, and hopes also that the problems around your mother can be satisfactorily addressed.

  25. kareninca

    Yves, it is wonderful that your surgery went so well, and that your recovery is too.

    My 96 year old father in law has lived with us for five years now; he had been doing perfectly but now he has had three compression fractures in the past three months (one due to physical therapy, ugh). We are hoping to have him infused with fosamax (Reclast) to prevent further fractures. Has your mom had Reclast???

  26. Leftcoastindie

    Congratulations on your speedy recovery.It’s nice to know that you can recover quickly after this type of surgery, although it is a hell of a way to find out that you do indeed recover quickly.
    Sorry to hear about your mother. Hope you can find some decent help for her.

  27. Rob

    Thank you for the update. Glad to hear your recovery is progressing, and wishing your mom well in her efforts to regain a small bit of mobility. It can be done – a couple years ago, my mom couldn’t even get up from a chair, and she was able to get mobile enough to use a walker for the past few years, despite worsening dementia.

  28. jhg

    It is very good to hear that your recovery is moving along well. My condolences about your mother’s condition and care. I hope things go well for her and that your recovery continues go well.

  29. LAS

    Dear Ives,

    I’m very glad to hear you’re recovering well. Take care and keep it up.

    About your mother, God bless you both and best wishes for her recovery.

    If you have a choice of respite care facility for her, choose the one that specializes best in physical rehabilitation. And – harder to evaluate – has the nurse who cares enough to run that tough battle of resistance from prone to upright b/c it could be a doozy, and will mean a huge difference.

    Speed may be a factor. Upright asap is better; lungs don’t heal well lying flat; they need to hang from the upright skeleton. And to breathe as deeply as possible. Sooner the better. Less stuff builds up inside.

    Your mother does not sound demented or Lewy Body to me. I’ve seen both. She sounds more like my father was. On a few occasions, my father also hallucinated. It was from drugs and pneumonia/dehydration; but he had a very good mind overall, no dementia at all. And, moreover, he could even explain afterward what he had seen/felt.

    Best wishes to you and all the other care givers with similar concerns!

  30. petal

    Dear Yves, I’m so glad you’re feeling better and so far so good on the new hips working! That is great news. Very sorry to hear about your Mom’s troubles, though. Sending warm thoughts and hope things head in the right direction real soon.

  31. Ping

    I have deepest respect for your intellectual work and tenacity, obviously now applied to physical recovery. Bravo! NC has been a fountain of valuable insights for me since inception and I apologize for occasional ranting posts requiring moderation.

    I 100% relate to the difficulties caring for a loved one in steep decline. In my experience and from commiserating with other families, it takes supervision of a loved one to assure competent care even in the highly rated facilities. When all is said and done, it’s a badge of honor.

  32. Susan the other

    I’m not surprised you are recovering so fast – I really can’t imagine anything keeping you down. Just do not overdo it, please. Was just thinking… you might want to invest in a recumbent bike for both you and your mother. It’s not weight-bearing unless you get one that allows you to increase the resistance. So they can be very easy if you want. A comfy seat would be appropriate for both of you. Possibly a seat belt. Interesting about older people not eating enough to get enough protein to keep their logic working. It sounds right to me. I don’t like to eat much at all any more. My solution is a shot of vodka. (Don’t know why that makes me hungry.) So maybe some peddling would stimulate your mom’s appetite as well.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks but MD said no bike except to move my legs a bit, which seems pointless.

      I really can’t add anything till I get to 6 weeks, when the surgeon will presumably bless my doing now prohibited things like internal rotation of the legs. I do have a Nordic Trac ski machine I plan to install then.

  33. Tom Pfotzer

    Yves, we’re all very grateful to you and wish you a robust and rapid recovery.

    Tell your Mom that we are thinking of her, too, and that we hold her somewhat accountable for how you turned out.



  34. skippy

    As its said in some corners around here when greeted with how are “WE” today … response – not dead yet w/ cheeky smile …

    Give them both barrels of that for good time Yves.

  35. lordkoos

    Best wishes Yves. Sorry to hear about your mother, it’s a difficult situation. After reading this I feel very lucky than my own mother (she’s 94) has some good and trustworthy caregivers.

  36. Elizabeth

    Yves, thank you so much for your update. I’m so happy to hear your recovery is going so well (not a surprise, though). My best wishes to you and your mom. Don’t know what I’d do w/o NC, so big thanks to Lambert, and Jerri Lyn for all their work.

  37. Thistlebreath

    There may be something to the benefits of massed wishes of good will. Add mine.
    Your formidable skill at description is undiminished.
    Thanks for the clear-headed account of your life and times.
    Fair winds and following seas to you both.

  38. GramSci

    I knew you were going to set rehab records, Yves. Diligence is a rare virtue. And best wishes to your mom. It gets so hard after 95; thank the gods your brother could show up. Despite your surplus diligence, take time and heal so you can come back stronger.

  39. David in Santa Cruz

    Best wishes to you for a speedy recovery, and likewise to Lambert and Jerri — for your speedy recovery!

  40. Stephen Gardner


    I’m so sorry to hear about your mother’s difficulties but glad that you are firmly on the mend.

    Take care of yourself. You are a bright light in a sea of bad information in the mainstream media.

  41. Eileen Appelbaum

    Hello Yves,
    thrilled for you that your recovery has been speedy and going well. And so sorry to hear about your mother’s poor treatment and her deteriorating physical condition. I hope your mother improves. Best wishes to both of you.

  42. Twylah Dawn

    Sending my very best wishes for your continued recovery, and for your mom’s improvement! My mom (about to turn 80) moved in with us this spring, generally healthy but after a couple of heart ablations and associated meds, her stamina is much diminished. I consider this time a gift, and I so appreciate your describing your own experiences, as this is all new for us. Many thanks!

  43. Bawb the Revelator

    Good on you, Miz Yves. Whatever it takes, you’ll do. That’s a moral certainty.

Comments are closed.