Dianna, 57 “An Anxious Husband”

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Diana, 57, has four children, one grandchild and has been married to her husband, Bernie for 29 years. Ever since Diana has known Bernie, he has had issues with his knee due to a football injury in college. Diana wanted Bernie to have a knee replacement years ago but he was wary. He only decided to have it done after speaking with a friend who had had the operation. Diana opens up about the anxiety that her husband was having leading up to surgery and talks about how he was ready to back out up until the last minute. She regrets that she didn’t know how much anxiety Bernie was feeling at the time.

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Diana, 57, has four children, one grandchild and has been married to her husband, Bernie for 29 years. Ever since Diana has known Bernie, he has had issues with his knee due to a football injury in college. Diana wanted Bernie to have a knee replacement years ago but he was wary. He only decided to have it done after speaking with a friend who had had the operation. Diana opens up about the anxiety that her husband was having leading up to surgery and talks about how he was ready to back out up until the last minute. She regrets that she didn’t know how much anxiety Bernie was feeling at the time.

DIANA: I'm Diana. I'm 57 and I-I have four children. One grandchild, Francis [PH] who's four, a husband, Bernard [PH].

DIANA: We've been married 29 years.

DIANA: He has always had a bad knee since I met him. It was a football injury when he was in college. And he had surgery then. And 20 years later we moved into our house and he slipped down our stairs and had surgery on the same knee again. So since I've met him he's always had a little bit of a limp. Has always had knee pain. And it's progressively gotten worse and probably 10 years ago I really started bugging him about having a knee replacement. Because it was limiting him in our activities. And he went to the doctor which we share the same doctor and he said, "Oh no, you're too young. You're way too young. You need to wait another 10 years."

DIANA: He was in a lot of pain. I don't think he ever would admit that he was in pain. He would just say, "My knee's bad." He couldn't sit in the theater. He was pretty much almost dragging that leg around so it was almost dead weight. He had gone to the doctors, they had given him a couple of cortisone shots which helped for a couple of days and then it was back. You could tell he was in a lot of pain. And it's been almost 10 years and he finally went to the doctor, scheduled a knee replacement for May. And then our daughter was getting married in April and I just didn't think he was gonna be able to make it till then and he coincidentally had lunch with a friend who just had had it done. Saw a new doctor and got him in in January.

DIANA: I don't think he still was on board with that, you know, even after he made the appointment he was up until the last minute ready to back out 'cause he's just didn't wanna have this done. And I was just so excited that he was gonna have it done and have it done before the wedding.
I didn't really know the anxiety he was suffering before. So that was one thing that I thought, "Wow, I should have been paying more attention to that." Because it really was a big deal for him.

DIANA: He lost probably 10 to 12 pounds before the surgery. And I knew he-I knew he was like a little bit nervous about it but I had no idea. Knowing what I know now, I would have gotten him a prescription of something to calm him down because it makes me sad that he was so anxious and I didn't get it. I was just so excited that he was gonna have this surgery finally. I mean I've been bugging him for years to have it so I feel bad that I wasn't like paying attention to what he was really going through.

DIANA: He went into surgery and we were in there and his blood pressure was just going off the charts. And they kept saying, "Are you sure you don't take blood pressure medication? Are you sure you don't have high blood pressure?" And-and he doesn't. He was just so nervous. He had a fever and so they were thinking well maybe we shouldn't do the surgery 'cause now his blood pressure's high and he's got this temperature. He was a wreck and I think even afterwards he said, "Even up to that point I was ready to say I don't wanna do this."

DIANA: He probably shouldn't have read so much information, you know. I mean he'd just go-he went in there thinking they're just gonna cut off my leg. And that just scared the crap out of him. Sorry I didn't mean to say crap. [LAUGH]

DIANA: The night before the surgery I was bringing him dinner because it was hard for him to walk. And he finished his dinner. He just jumped up and gave me this big smack ki-this big fat kiss. Like it was like he wasn't gonna see me again.

DIANA: This guy does knee surgeries all day long, all week long, all year long. What are you worried about? I mean it's gonna be fine. So I feel a little guilty that I wasn't more in tune with his feelings. And he wasn't sharing it. I mean I knew he was drinking a little bit more. And eating a little bit less. And not talking and very quiet.

DIANA: When he came out of surgery he looked great. And he felt great. And they brought him up to his room and within four hours he was walking on his leg. And the one thing I remember is that they kept saying you gotta keep that pain in check. So you don't ever want it to go to where you're trying to catch up to me. So the pain medication was just huge. And it's funny because he didn't have any pain. They kept saying, "What's your pain level?" And he'd say it's three but I really don't think there was any pain 'cause there was so much pain medication.

DIANA: The next morning and I guess the doctor had come and said, "You're good to go." And he was just not emotionally ready to go home. I think physically he could have gone home because he was up and walking with the walker. Emotionally I don't think I was ready for him to come home. I was happy that he was gonna spend another night there 'cause, um, I was nervous. 'Cause it's a huge scar and it's a huge surgery. And it kinda scared us both.

DIANA: We have a two story house. The master bedroom's on the first story. And there-so there's a couple of stairs going into the house. And a couple of stairs around the house. But he really didn't have to do a flight of stairs. He had done a couple of flights of stairs at the hospital.

DIANA: He asked me, "Do you think we should get some in care for the home?" And I said, "Nobody's gonna take care of you better than me." And jokingly, I was kind of joking.

DIANA: We knew that we were gonna have a nurse there a couple times that first week doing the blood pressure and the fever and checking the wound to make sure it wasn't getting infected. Which is what they're really concerned about. And we knew that we were gonna have a physical therapist there a couple of times a week until he had his follow up appointment. And that was actually five weeks down the road.

DIANA: He had had a blood clot the surgery 25 years ago and ended up back in the hospital. So they were very concerned about that. And so I think I was concerned about that.

DIANA: He wore the socks for three weeks and I have to say the hardest part of my job was getting those socks on because I don't think he could physically do it by himself even today. And it was a big deal for me that he had clean socks every day. In the hospital they put one pair on and you go home in that pair. They don't care how many days you wear them. But I wanted clean socks every day for him. So that was the biggest challenge of our day I think was getting those socks on him. [LAUGH I was like sweating half the time because I didn't want to hurt him. And it was just hard getting them on.

DIANA: I think he was feeling a lot better than I thought he was. Because they stressed it in the hospital that you really had to stay ahead of the pain. So my phone was set every four hours, the alarm would go off. I didn't even ask if he needed it or not.

DIANA: They said he'd be on the pain medication for like eight to 12 weeks and he was completely off of it after three weeks.

DIANA: He came home on Friday and the following Wednesday I took him to his sister's house for a business family meeting. I was a wreck because I had to drive away and he had his walker and nobody else there knew how to take care of him. [LAUGH] Only me. That was important for him to get out. When I picked him up I could tell just the way he was walking out that he was tired and he came home and I did his exercises with him in the morning and the afternoon. And I made sure we did two walks a day. And I made sure when he wasn't up he had ice and I was consistently filling up the ice bucket.

DIANA: They showed me in the hospital how to work the leg and move it and, you know, what exercises he was supposed to be doing and how many repetitions. And he could have done that all by himself but just having me there made it more accountable, you know. And I don't know. He was eager to-to do it with me I think for some reason, you know.

DIANA: Every day I saw an improvement. They said we're gonna have good days and bad days. We had not very many bad days. Probably one or two. Which was exciting for him. I think we would walk a little bit further and then we're at the fire station and then we did a mile. And having the guidelines too. I mean we had the whole binder that said, you know, you should be here at this point and at this stage. It was good for him to know that he was on track and that there was no infection and was healing nicely. The swelling was going down. He was excited every day to get going and do what he was supposed to do.

DIANA: He still doesn't tackle the stairs very often. I mean he could be going up and down the stairs a couple times a day. And I think that makes him nervous.

DIANA: I think having a dog running around the house is frightening. I mean that just freaks us both out because once that dog goes running through the house we're both kind of like oh watch out.

DIANA: But the hardest part I think for him was just getting in the shower by himself. When I think like people go home and do this by themselves I think for us, it was just a comfort level for him and for myself knowing that if something happened, if he fell or tripped or something I was there. Because I wouldn't go to the store unless I knew he was going to be icing for the next hour or... 'cause I was just so worried that if he did fall or he was alone that would, I think that scared us both is that was the only thing we were really worried about.

DIANA: I have never slept so soundly as I did that first week being home. Because I think I was just so emotionally and physically exhausted. I don't sleep for anything. And that first week I'd get into bed and I would just I'd be out. I'd be out like a light.

DIANA: He ended up with pneumonia which I feel responsible for that because they do that little thing where you blow the ball in the hospital. And they sent it home with us but nobody ever said you need to keep doing that. And so three weeks after he had been home he got really sick and ended up back at the doctor's. So I feel a little guilty for that. It might be part of my problem because I should have been thinking oh he should be blowing in that thing every day. [LAUGH] But he wasn't.

DIANA: Well when I picked him up I could tell just the way he was walking out that he was tired. And he came home and he immediately wanted ice. And so any kind of activity outside of the house he comes home and he definitely wants to ice it. Yesterday he had his first physical therapy outside of our home. He's driving himself right now but he came home and he immediately wanted to ice his leg.

DIANA: You know, getting up and walking to the fire station. I mean you do that walk twice a day for three weeks. You know, you don't wanna do it anymore. You-you kinda get over it and tired of it. And so then we'd get in the car and we'd go to the mall. It took me a while to figure out that he was getting bored with what we were doing. And so we tried to switch it around a little bit.

DIANA: He likes to stay active and not only active but needed. Like he wanted to take the trash out for me and things that I was more than happy to keep doing. He wanted to feed the dog and he wanted to take the dog on the walk. And it was just, you know, you d-not a good idea. [LAUGH]

DIANA: I think he's happy where he is in his rehabilitation. I think he thought that he'd be a little bit further than he is now. I think he's doing great. And technically it's a full year before you're completely recovered. And it's not even been two months. So he's getting a little impatient and I asked him this morning, "How does your knee feel?" And he said, "Like a five pound brick is in there. He's not quite used to the weight of it and he hasn't quite built up the muscle tone yet.

DIANA: Last week is probably the first week where he hasn't just been up and excited and he's got this new knee. So I think it's really settling in like okay, this is gonna take a little while. I'm not gonna be running the Rose Bowl in a week or so.

DIANA: I try to keep his attitude positive. And he's pretty positive anyway. And I try to stay positive. I feel like I did my job for those five weeks. And like you are capable now of doing some of this stuff on your own. And I know that he doesn't need me to take a walk with him now. 'Cause he can walk by himself. He doesn't have a cane. He doesn't have a walker.

DIANA: Like for instance, yesterday he, earlier in the morning, he made a reference that he wanted me to come to his physical therapy with him. I really didn't know where that was coming from except that I think he just wanted that security of me because I've been literally by his side every day since then.

DIANA: Our goal was this wedding. A-and like I said, it was scheduled for May. And I was just petrified that if he had to wait until May for the surgery he wasn't going to be walking her down the aisle. 'Cause he was literally dragging that leg. He, today, could walk her down that aisle, do that first dance. He babysat the grandson last Saturday while we had a wedding shower. And he can't do that yet. He can't run after him if he's in a parking lot. So I think he just would like to get a little more mobile. He'd like to actually be comfortable in just resuming hikes with us and taking the dog on a hike.

DIANA: We were supposed to go up to Montana next week and he said, "I-I don't think I could get in a boat and fly-fish."

DIANA: His leg is very sturdy. He's not confident of it. Which is why I-I really wanted it 10 years ago. [LAUGH] Because it changed our life.

DIANA: He was a marathon runner and so we did a couple of marathons together and we were always really active people. We skied and we rode horses and we did all that stuff. And right about when he turned 55 it just really slowed him down. And I would, not take one for the team, but even in Montana when they did, you know, they went caving I stayed home with Bernie because I didn't want him home alone. And so it definitely affected our social life and our activity level. He's excited just to get that back and do those things again and be part of the group instead of the one that has to hold down the fort.

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