Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Friday, December 5, 2014

Handicap Placard

Hip Replacement
Almost forty years before I had my hip replaced last year, my mother underwent a similar operation.  This is not all that unusual as I was told we do 400,000 a year in the U.S., a fact that some believe is more likely to bankrupt Medicare than Congress's raiding the funding.Not discounting the tremendous changes in experience, surgical techniques, and materials, we did share some similar experiences.

We both had pre-surgical episodes with wheelchair assistance needs.  We both had genetic and familial tendencies towards joint problems, and at least one more.

We both received a post-surgical handicap placard.

I can’t remember if my mother’s was red or blue, because she continued to have problems and eventually had a knee replaced as well, so the placard I remember was a blue one.  My post-surgical placard was red, with an expiration date of four months.  I presume the rationale was that if I were still undergoing formal therapy after four months they would allow me an extension and if I weren’t, then I should be walking as part of my long-term recovery.

Neither Mary nor I are great walkers.  Me, because I was a thirty year runner and still proudly wear the gold runner around my neck that I gave myself for running 10,000 miles.  When I could no longer rum, and realized that the activity was probably aggravating my hip problem, I found it painful both physically and emotionally to walk.  Mary, because she says the house we live in, with its thirty-four steps from the bottom of our entrance to the top floor where her study is, constitutes her exercise program.  Since she weighs essentially the same as when I married her more than fifty years ago, who am I to argue?

My defense of that position is a little weaker, not only because my study is eight steps short of hers, but also because she visits the washing machine, dryer, and garage refrigerator more often than I do.  However, I do go more regularly to my car, parked in that same garage than she does, so I’m not totally fooling myself.

red (portable) placard
My surgical recovery was fantastic and my mobility a year post-op received compliments from the PA, but I had two of the worst bouts of gout that I ever had while recovering .  I now take medication and even subscribe to a daily cherry juice regime as my daughter-in-law suggests for me and her father, but I still have times when taking the first step is a major accomplishment and pain is a common visitor.

So, when my four months ran out I sought out my Primary Care Physician and got a six-month extension

As the ninth month of recovery came closer. I caught hints that Mary found our ease in finding a parking place comfortable and asked my PCP for another extension.  . I joked that I was afraid if I did not, Mary would find a way to cripple me in my sleep. He said, “Why don’t you get a blue one like everyone else?”

And I realized he was right!  Everyone seemed to have a blue placard, even at church, where they have eight spots on the main door level.  I now park in one of the two at the lower level, where the Rectory is, and climb the 8 steps to enter the church.

It has always seemed strange to me that the handicap parking spots at church fill up every week so quickly.  Wouldn’t you think some of those handicapped would be cured after a time?

When my mother passed away, one of my sons inherited her car and, as I passed it on, I thought about whether I inherited her placard.  Of course the answer was no, but I wondered why, since I had her hip replacement in the box with her ashes and transported that to Arlington where she joined my father, why couldn’t I have parked in handicap at the cemetery?

I hope you will join me for my next Post.  I’ll share with you some changes I have observed in the Annual Evaluation process since I retired.

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