Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Yay! Mom is home! And she was ready. We spoke on the phone Sunday night to try to figure out the game plan. She wanted out of there as early as possible; however she didn’t know when they’d let her go. All she knew was it would be soon after breakfast. We decided I’d check in with her first thing in the morning and then we’d go from there.

I called just after 8:00 knowing breakfast would’ve been served already. Mom still didn’t know, so told me to go to work and she’d call me. Around 10:00 she called and said she was only waiting for her own walker to be delivered by the pharmacy and she’d been assured it would be there “any minute.” I jetted to the facility and found Mom sitting in her chair with her leg propped up and her bed covered with her bags. There still wasn’t a walker and still only a promise of “any minute.” So I took her things out to my car and then settled down next to her to wait. By 11:30, Mom was fed up and declared we were leaving. She shuffled to the nursing station and informed them she was tired of waiting and asked that her walker be delivered to our house. I ran outside and moved the car closer to the entrance. She maneuvered herself into the car and we drove home.

I’d been worried about leaving her on her own for her first day home. I didn’t like the idea of her using the stairs, but she insisted she was going to be fine. She didn’t think I should wait with her for the walker to show up because they’d already proven “any minute” to be “any day now.” She promised to demonstrate her abilities on the stairs to show me she really would be okay.
Once to the house, I opened the car door and then ran her things inside. Mom got out of the car and using her cane, walked slowly to the house. She made it up the two stairs slowly, but definitely surely. Now it was time to go down one small flight to the main floor. She told me to watch her. She took each stair by stepping down with her bad leg, leaving the good knee to do all the bending. Of course! It was so easy and something I’ve done a million times after being super sore from a long run. We laughed a little in relief at how easy it really was.
She settled right back in. She shuffled from one room to another, checking on things and making sure she could get around. When she popped something into the microwave for her lunch, I somehow felt she was going to be fine, so I went back to work. The walker did eventually show up, but not until well after 1:00.

When I got home that evening, she asked me to finish putting together her shower chair. It looked intuitive enough, so I set about it, but soon discovered it was a bit more complicated. I needed her hands to help me hold a couple of things in place. I remarked that it was a time like this when I wished my brother Phil wasn’t off with the Army in Korea. One Christmas I received a small piece of furniture. With hope in his eyes, Phil asked if he could please, please put it together for me. Really? Um, yes! He would’ve loved piecing together that stupid shower chair.

Chair together, walker delivered, exercises being done, therapist schedules made. Mom is home and is starting her new routine of recovery. She’s still grumbling about her exercises, but as she told me, “I have to do them. If I don’t, I’ll be like this forever and a day.” I smiled as she shuffled off with determination. I’m so glad she’s home.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Just a quick update. I'm about to go see Mom before I'm off for a weekend in Canada. I've talked to her already today and she's been told she can come home on Monday! Yay! The plan is I will come pick her up around 10:00 Monday morning. Right away I was concerned about all the stairs in the house. There isn't a way for her to get from either the front door or the back door with out encountering a climb or a descent. But she assured me she can tackle stairs.

"Really? You can go up and down stairs already? That's so quick!" I was excited when she told me. I asked her, "Is it silly of me to be so excited that you can do that already?" She laughed and told me I was being cute about it and she appreciated it.

All week she's been telling me she thought they'd keep her through next week, but apparently she's doing better than she thought. And better than I thought she'd be doing at this point. I need to stop measuring how far along she should be by how far along she was when she broke her hip. This has proven to be an easier affair. It's still work, but it's so encouraging to know she's at this point already.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pimp Mom's Walker

I had a quick stop to the rehab center to visit Mom today. She's asked me to stop by a few times now to bring her clothing and each time I seem to get it wrong. She, of course, wonders why I'm unable to read her mind by now. Today I brought a big bag with a variety of things and thankfully she was satisfied.

She was in a hurry today because I showed up just before her physical therapy. While she was prepping to go, her occupational therapist came in the room with few choices of baskets to attach to her walker. She's opting for a wire basket and I took one look at it and knew it needed some style. I threatened plastic flowers, streamers and a bell. I don't think she believes I'll do it, but all it'll take is a stop to a store or two and some glue. I'm good with glue.

As we walked to the physical therapy room, I was pleased to see how quickly and nimbly she seems to be moving already. I remarked as such and she sort of laughed at me in disbelief. Yet she seems very determined to get her mobility back. She slid one foot in front of the other down the hallway and I noticed the yellow tennis balls that were stuck onto the bottom of her walker that help it slide better. When Mom broke her hip years ago she had a walker that was fixed up just the same. At the time, we had a black lab named Demo whose most favorite toy in the whole wide world was yellow tennis balls. He had little interest in any other kind of ball, but if it was bright yellow and fuzzy, he was all over it. He even knew the sound a tube of tennis balls made when it was popped open and he would come running. When Mom had that walker, he was so confused. He would stare and stare and stare at the balls. He never tried to play with them, he just stared intently for long periods of time. I reminded Mom of this and she let out a great laugh. I love making her laugh.

We exchanged hugs and kisses and she went into the PT room. She's going to be strong in no time!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mom Updates

I'm overwhelmed with how many people have asked about my mom. I decided maybe I should create a blog where I can update everyone on how she's doing. I'll also use this place for race reports, maybe some book reviews and some general ramblings. But this first entry is all Mom. Subsequent updates should be shorter.

My Mom, Peggy Barton, had knee replacement surgery on Tuesday, September 15th. 12 years ago, Mom slipped and fell on a city street and broke her left hip and wrist at the same time. It was very traumatic. She hurt so much and the recovery and rehabilitation took what seemed like forever. I was even more of a kid than I am now at the time and had no clue how to properly handle the situation. It was difficult to see my vibrant, active mother in so much pain and bedridden. She needed help doing the simplest tasks and was confined to a hospital bed in set up in our living room. Eventually, after weeks of occupational and physical therapy, she was able to move around. She never lost her limp completely though. I believe the years of being as active as she is with her right knee compensating for her left side finally culminated in the need to get the knee replaced.

I took Mom to Everett Providence at 5:30 in the morning. She was understandably stressed and worried about things. I did my best to stay calm around her, although I was feeling the same way inside. We got there and they whisked her away, leaving me to check her in. I was actually doing okay until they started asking me about her living will and the fact I'm the executor of her estate. At that point, I had to take a few extra deep breathes. Once I was done I went back to check on her. She informed me I needed to rush home and grab some paperwork that had her most recent blood work numbers on it. I had to run out of there and try to get back in less than 30 minutes.

30 minutes later, I ran back to her bedside with paperwork in hand. I sat with her and we chatted with her nurse, Laura who took one look at my attire and asked if I was a runner, if I did marathons or ultras. Surprised she even knew what an ultra was, she explained her two boys ran cross country so we happily discussed running and kept Mom distracted a little from what lay ahead. Very soon at about 7:00 it was time to wheel her away. I gave her a hug and kiss and said I'd be waiting by the phone.

Needing to let some steam off, I ran through the parking garage and decided to run some stairs for a while. I garnered quite a few funny stares as I raced up and down the flights before returning to my car to head home and get ready for work.

It was hard to get myself to work, but Mom had insisted. She didn't want me just sitting in the waiting room doing nothing. At least at work, I'd get some stuff done and maybe not obsess. Right. At work, I kept staring at my cell phone, waiting for the call that she was okay. Just after 10:00 the doctor called to let me know things had gone smoothly. Yay! He informed me her knee had been very bad and had more arthritis in it than he'd expected, but he'd been able to do all he needed to do. He expected a long recovery and warned me she'd be in pain for probably a few months. Grateful she was okay, I thanked him and then waited for my day to end so I could go see her. By 1:00 that afternoon, Mom was calling me asking me to bring her certain things and sounded optimistic and thus far pleased with the results. When brother Brad and I saw her that day, she was certainly groggy, yet happy to have the surgery over and seemed eager to start the recovery process. When her head started to tilt back and her eyes closed, Brad and I gave her kisses and left her to rest.

She stayed in the hospital through the week. She received lots of phone calls and a couple of visitors and whenever we spoke, she was in such good spirits. I think we'd expected this surgery would be just like when she broke her hip--painful, incapacitating and difficult. Although this time it still was not fun and still definitely painful, it really wasn't nearly as bad. She was sitting up and moving around within the first day. By Friday, she was ready to get to the rehab facility so she could start the actual work. I was very encouraged by her demeanor that maybe this go around it'd be easier for her.

She's been at the Everett Care and Rehab since Friday. She's already convinced them to let her make it to her bathroom on her own so she doesn't have to sit around and wait for an available attendant. Although she's rolling her eyes about it, she's doing her exercises and her knee is bending at a nice angle. The goal is to get full range of motion, but anything at this point is an improvement. She'll be at this facility for at least the week before she comes home. At home she'll have therapists and a home nurse come check on her as well as me during the week and my brother Brad on the weekends if I'm not around.

I'm excited to see such quick progress and I hope it continues this way. My Mom has such a full calendar of church, Bible study, volunteering, lunches with friends, running around with her grandkids and hitting the slots at the casino. It's been tough for her as her knee got worse and worse. She started using a cane and had to slow way down and was always hurting. Now she's making her way back and I bet I won't be able to keep up with her!

Me, Mandi and Mom in Athens, Greece