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By Mel White 

Thanks to my villagers

On the Bright Side


May 11, 2019

Mel White

I had a total knee replacement in February and once again I am reminded that it takes a village to care for the single living-alone senior citizen (i.e. me) who has to have major surgery. I would really like to publicly thank the many villagers in my life who helped me and made my experience as good as it could be.

My surgery was Feb. 11, early on a Monday morning, so I opted to go down to Bakersfield the day before which, if you remember, was a full-on blizzard-y day. My planned ride didn't think her car would make it through all that snow but Steve – one of my partners at the store – stepped up and took me in his big ol' Dodge truck. I was a little worried about him getting back home to the heights of Bear Valley Springs, but thankfully he made it all right. (Just a little aside, a couple of other villagers – Chip and Linda – had told Steve if he couldn't make it to BVS he could stay with them in Hart Flat; sometimes just knowing there are options is a huge help and a mental relief.)

The surgery itself went fine. I have to thank Dr. Tivnon, my surgeon, and all the rest of the operating crew, for I felt in good hands throughout and it certainly turned out that I was.

All of this took place at Mercy Hospital and I can't thank the staff there enough for taking such good care of me. The nurses and aides were cheerful and helpful; the Terrio physical therapists were vigilant and encouraging; the hospital staff, chaplain and docents all dropped in to see how I as doing and what they might be able to do to help.

I stayed only two nights in the hospital, but Wednesday the doctor who was supposed to discharge me was out in another facility with an emergency. A doctor I didn't know, on the same staff as my HMO doctor, heard about the delay and made a trip over to sign my discharge papers -- thank goodness!

Karen and Bill came and got me and delivered me to my home, where I was greeted ecstatically by my two dogs (and with a yawn from my cat). Susanna had loaned me a wheelchair and a bedside potty and I had a couple of my own walkers, so I felt pretty good about being home and being on my own.

Except I wasn't really on my own. My next door neighbor, BJ, had been taking care of my pets while I was gone, walking over in the cold wind, ice and snow at least a couple of times a day. She had also offered to be on call for me while I recovered, which meant the world to me and gave me the confidence to feel independent while knowing help was just a phone call away. BJ also stopped by a few times a day, brought me food from take out and went to the grocery store for me – all while still coming over to take care of my pets – for several weeks after I got home. I truly do not know what I would have done without her help.

Meanwhile, other friends called to check in on me and asked if I needed anything. Karen had sent a bunch of home-prepared meals home with me before the surgery, and when I was able to get out and about but not allowed to drive, Lauraine came and picked me up and took me to lunch in town. Constance did the same on another day, Willie took me for breakfast on yet another day – and oh how nice it was to get out and feel better and stronger and socialize with friends!

There was a hiccup with my insurance and physical therapy but Susie (at Dr. Tivnon's office) and some helpful people at Gemcare finally got me approved to go to Stone Mountain. Julie and Mo put me through my paces there and I can't tell you how much improved I felt after each PT session (although it wiped me out and sent me for a nap right after the first few sessions). Thanks again to BJ for driving me to PT when I wasn't allowed to drive.

Ruthie drove me to Bakersfield one time to see David, Dr. Tivnon's PA, for a post surgery check-in, and drove me home through the back roads (through Caliente), which was lovely. Karen took me down for my second check-in visit with David, and she drove us home through Arvin (where we spotted some early wildflowers). Laughing and talking and riding through our wonderful countryside – I was just loving those feelings of normalcy again.

My partners in the store – Susanna, Dawn, Steve and Karen – came through big time by covering my work days when I couldn't. All of them also at one time or another gave me a ride to or from the store so I could start to get my feet wet there again, and so I could see people on March's First Friday when I couldn't do much but just sit there.

I have so much to be thankful for, and so many people to thank for helping me through this experience. It takes a village, yes, and I am truly grateful to have such a great village of friends.

© Marilda Mel White. Mel White, local writer/photographer and co-owner of Tehachapi Treasure Trove, has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996 and is especially thankful to have bright stories like this to share. She welcomes your comments at [email protected]


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