Seems like it’s always something to deal with, doesn’t it? But then, that’s life. Full of ups and downs.

Yesterday afternoon I saw Holly, my physical therapist, after seeing the chiropractor for my hip. Whether the hip pain is wholly due to wearing the boot, at this point I don’t know.

The chiropractor is frustrated because he adjusts my hip every Monday and it feels good till I start walking. Then within hours, that good feeling is gone and the pain is back.

Physical Therapy Visit:

Yesterday I asked Holly: “What would you do about all this right now, Holly? At this point in time?”

She said: “It’s been six months. The ankle is not improving. I’d have the surgery.”

I asked her if she thought that would get me out of the boot and walking, and she said yes.

So I asked her what they would do during surgery. Holly is a doctor of physical therapy, so she knows her stuff. And I trust her. I’ve been seeing her a few months every year since this accident.

She said they’d clean things up, check out the tendon tear and fix whatever was possible to fix.

I asked her when my next appointment would be and she said: “I’m not giving you one. It’s not doing you any good. You need the surgery first.”

So driving home (which as we know is with a boot on one foot and a lift on my sneaker on the other), I thought it over.

There’s not a lot of probability that I will get out of the boot as long as that tendon tear and whatever else is there.

And I’m so tired of wearing the boot!

Gardening Woes:

But then, gardening season is about here. And that probably counts me out for at least a few months after surgery.

I don’t know how long they’ll tell me not to be weight-bearing, but I figure it’s probably at least 6 weeks.

And I knew I wasn’t going to get to do spectacular gardening projects this year, but I thought I’d at least be able to decorate and garden on the patio.

I guess I should look at it like this: If I don’t do something, I might not have next year’s garden to look forward to either.

Kendra’s Also Having Surgery:

The other thing that’s on my mind is this: Kendra is having surgery on May 18.

She won’t be able to lift for 6 weeks. Kendra might need me after her surgery, so I’d better get cracking. And I know I’ll need her.

One of my daughters will probably have to take me to surgery and then drive me home. And then there are doctor’s appointments post-surgery I won’t be able to drive to.

I have an appointment tomorrow to talk to the surgeon, Dr. Lashley. We’ll discuss all this.

Holly said she’d also let him know. He’s her husband, though her office is not anywhere near his. They both know what I’ve been through with this ankle.

Possible Help:

I’m wondering if I should talk to the new housekeeper and see what kind of time she has. If maybe I could pay her to help me at home post-surgery. After tomorrow I’ll call her.

Holly said sometimes Medicare will pay for home help if the doctor says it’s necessary. So maybe that could work out too.

Continuing to walk on this foot is just making it decline faster.

Remember I told you I got my walking boot stuck under the table leg and fell on my left knee in the kitchen about 3 weeks ago?

Well, I saw my internist for my twice-a-year check-up over a week ago. I didn’t show it to her because it wasn’t really hurting or bothering me that much.

To tell you the truth I forgot about it at my appointment.

Now the kneecap is hurting when I walk and it’s still somewhat swollen. So I guess I’d better have her check that out because I sure need one leg to depend on.

Does anyone have experience with Medicare and post-surgical needs?

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57 Comments

  1. Just a thought about your knee. You might benefit from putting ice on it until you can get to your doctor for her to see it. Also, (if Medicare does not approve a wheel chair etc post surgery) there are a lot of places where you can borrow equipment (wheelchairs etc) for free (fire departments, churches, senior centers etc).

  2. Brenda, I think everyone has been so helpful and with excellent advice. The only thing I would add is definitely get advice and services from the hospital’s social worker. When my husband was ill, our social worker smoothed the path and gave us a real plan for services and how to get them. Additionally, she started the process for a handicapped license plate/sign for him. Seemingly a small thing, but so helpful.
    I am thinking of you and wishing the best for you and Kendra.
    Mary

  3. When you see your surgeon, ask him if he can have the medical social worker at the hospital give you a call. They can discuss your concerns and let you know what services will/ can be available for you in your post operative period. A hospital will not discharge a patient unable to get the care they need. Let me say this, If you have family and you say you don’t want to bother them, the discharge planner will contact them and request they offer their help before the contact other services. But there are lots of services out there that will help you. Just went through this with a neighbor.

  4. The sooner u have surgery the faster u will heal and be free all your pain Brenda! Then u will be able to do whatever u want and not have to worry about wearing and driving in a boot. Good luck!

  5. My mom had a physical therapist come to the house for therapy after knee replacement for the first 4 weeks post surgery. She only had 2 doctor appointments in the first 6 weeks. Doctor/nurse or doctor’s surgical liaison/social worker at the hospital can let you know what services might be available. If your post surgery is similar, you’ll need a good bit of help post the first 6 weeks or even stay for a bit at a rehab facility. Good idea to schedule the surgery – even if its for months away so you can plan.

  6. Please check and see if there are any services for seniors in your area. My neighbor’s husband has to go to PT twice a week and we have a “senior express” van that will take you to appointments for $3 each way. It is so difficult for her to get him in her vehicle, it is worth the $12 for both of them to go round trip (she wants to hear for herself what the therapist recommends). I broke my arm badly at the beginning of covid. I would recommend making sure you can prepare food from a sitting position. Get your ducks in a row and remember it is all temporary. And line up back up drivers as much as you can. Things come up and you don’t want to miss therapy.

  7. My family lives in California, so I’m never certain when I’m dealing with Medicare or Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid). My step-father is a custodial patient in a skilled nursing facility. When he was no longer able to use a walker, I asked our Kaiser Permanente primary care doctor about securing a motorized wheelchair. Our doctor actually wrote a prescription for the wheelchair. Shortly afterwards, a brand new snazzy red motorized wheelchair showed up at his facility. Even the nurses wondered how he got it. See if a prescription will get you some sort of scooter or wheelchair.

  8. I am sure your insurance supplement will provide much of what you need…so you should contact them…good luck💕

  9. Brenda,
    one of our very good friends just had a knee replacement. It came as a result of having a bad hip. He wouldn’t FOLLOW the recommendations of his physical therapist and as a result RUINED his entire left SIDE. Wow is his wife pissed! Bill is learning to walk again and Nancy says there is a NEW sheriff in the house. His cavalier attitude will put their retirement on indefinite hold. They have a new grandchild and she won’t be able to help them for awhile. It’s unfortunate that his non compliance has cost them so much.
    Susan

  10. Yes, it is always something! It’s never easy to be told you need surgery, but it seems like in your situation, this will be for the best. Healing will take a long time, but after that’s over, you will be glad you had it done and don’t have to wear that dang boot anymore!

  11. Hi, Brenda, sorry to hear the situation with pain and mobility is not improving. After femur surgery last year, Medicare covered all PT & OT costs in my home until I could manage steps. I do have a supplemental, though nothing was charged to that, since the health service provider accepted what Medicare paid. It should be explained by your doctor/surgeon team what you will need and how they will bill it, so Medicare will cover it. Wishing you the best with getting back to full mobility without excessive pain.

    I so enjoy reading your adventures in transitioning to the new place. I really like to see your great decorating ideas come to life in your photos! Thanks!
    Best,
    Mary

  12. It is also illegal in my state to drive with a boot on. If you are in an accident wearing a boot, your insurance WILL refuse to pay. Please accept the fact that you need surgery to maintain some sense of well being later in life. You MUST follow your doctor’s orders implicitly. So many of us think that we are infallible. Ask me how I know these things? Well, just lets leave it at “experience can be a very difficult teacher.” I wish you success with the surgery. Your plants and garden can wait. God gave you the ability to make most anything grow. Your time in the sun will come. Maybe not as quickly as you like but it will come. Patience will be your most difficult virtue to practice.

    1. I’ve accepted the learning patience thing at this point. This has gone on for too long and I’ve got to do something. My blood pressure is up from the pain and I don’t need that either.

  13. Here’s a little thing you can do right now….go to Home Depot ( or any builder’s supply store) and get one of those aprons with the pockets and have it ready. What a help mine was. I hung it around my neck and used it to make strategic trips to the kitchen. You can probably find uses for it now!

  14. I had hip replacement surgery four weeks ago. I had to have constant help for three weeks. I could drive now if I had to as I’m not taking pain meds now. I don’t feel up to it yet. My husband has done everything.
    I had home health care for three weeks, but it was just therapy. I’m now going into a facility for therapy. At first Medicare said one week then two. The therapist extended it to three. I thought it was Medicare that paid but it could be our supplemental.
    I know the hip is different than an ankle but you will need a lot of help. I am not allowed to bend over so that still restricts me. They worry about the hip socket popping out. Good luck with your decision.

    1. I hope you’re feeling much better, Debby. If I could just get someone to come here for physical therapy that’s really all I’d want. I can get the other stuff arranged. Because my daughters are busy and I don’t want to have to bother them any more than is necessary. Kendra still has not had a chance to unpack.

  15. Brenda, I’m sure you didn’t want to hear you needed surgery but this should cure you from all the pain and be done with it once and for all. If you have supplement insurance they should be able to get you all the help you need.

    1. I pretty much knew before I even talked to her at PT. Especially because of my daughter having surgery, I knew I needed to get more mobile sooner. And yes, I do have supplemental Medicare.

      1. Brenda just a heads up when you go to that link. It mentions home health aide. This is not a caregiver. There are very specific guidelines for home health aides. This would not be somebody that would drive you to appointments, grocery shop, clean your house etc. I cannot tell you how many calls I get from people that insist that’s what it means. It is not. If you have any questions I would be happy to chat with you via email [email protected], but you are a smart lady. I suspect you are going to find the answers on your own 😊

  16. No disrespect ….BUT after speaking with the doctor you need to have a real heart to heart with yourself!! To see if you are really going to abide by all the instructions regarding rest, little walking, etc. Because you are not the best about boundries and will most likely to on a ladder as soon as possible, or fall doing something you were specifically told not to do! So do the first check in with yourself to see if you are able to do all that or you might end up in a worse position than you are now.

    1. I understand. I do push boundaries. But after 6 months in this boot with all this pain, I’m ready to listen to instructions and follow them.

  17. If you need therapy and there is no way to drive or anyone who can take you someplace for it, then you might be able to have Home Health come to the house. My hubby was in hospital for different issues, including covid, so it may be a “benefit” of having that, if one can call any part of that mess a benefit…but yes, medicare paid for his therapists to come to the house…mostly physical therapist, but there was also an occupational therapist who came a few times and a nurse at the first part. He is also on oxygen, so maybe that is part of it too…but you never know if you don’t ask. Yes, I think the doctor would have to arrange some of it. If you cannot manage to at least get up and go to bathroom, get food etc, you might be sent for a time to a nursing home or some such…

  18. Ok, DEEP breaths!! This is completely doable. It will be nice recovering in the early spring, sitting on your patio while it’s not too hot. I’m a (retired) nurse, too. As Kelly stated, straight M’care does not pay for those services….unless you have the add ons, but check with your Dept of Aging in your county. They can guide you with which services are available with either reduced fees or paid by the county. Check with your house keeper lady, too. Probably within 2 weeks, you may be able to move around a lot more than you imagine. Meanwhile, prepare and freeze some dinners for the month following surgery, get in the groceries & kitty food & litter you will need, gather your reading materials and line up your girls to see if they will be able to assist with doctor appts. You should probably talk to your neighbor to let him know and when he offers to help out in anyway he can, take him up on the offer and just ask if he would mind being the daily check in person so you only need the girls for driving to doctors, groceries etc. It’s really doable, as you are aware, just takes a lot of planning. I wish I were closer and I would def help.

      1. I agree, Connie! I’m going to keep them for when my Husband and I are in that boat. Thank you sooooo much!!!

    1. Already talked to the nextdoor neighbor. He will help by getting evening meals (and I pay for his) until May 6 when he has hernia surgery. And I’m always well ahead of things I’ll need. I doubt if I’ve ever been down to 4 rolls of toilet paper in my life because I always, always plan well ahead of time. Obviously I’m compulsive about things like that.

  19. Brenda, I am a home health nurse of 20 years and I’m currently manager of clinical services of a Medicare managed home health agency. In fact Medicare is the majority of our patients. I can tell you with 100% certainty that Medicare does not cover any sort of housekeeping or custodial care that would be considered caregiving whatsoever. Anybody that is receiving those services and said that Medicare covers it either has a Medicare advantage plan, Medicaid or some other sort of caregiving insurance policy. Straight Medicare will not cover this. What they will cover is nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy etc. You have to be homebound in order to qualify which you will be post surgery. You can have a nurse that will come out and check your incision and go over your medication and make sure that you are understanding your postop instructions and healing correctly. You can have home physical therapy until you are able to get out to physical therapy. Not being able to drive is not considered being homebound. But if it is a difficult and taxing effort for you to get out of the home which it will be post surgery, you will be considered homebound. I would definitely talk to your housekeeper and see if she offers any sort of extra services. As well check around your area and see if there are any senior services that can hook you up with different caregiving type agencies. I wish you the best of luck and I agree at this point it sounds like it’s time for surgery. You may be surprised. The healing process may go a lot quicker than you think. Definitely take advantage of any home health services the doctor wants to set up for you, but do be aware it will not include caregiving under Medicare.

    1. I don’t think it can get much worse than it’s currently been for 6 months now. Along with Medicare I have a supplement that might have something in there to help. Also I already have a twice a month housekeeper. And with being able to order things, from food to cat litter, I’ll be fine.

  20. My sister in law is from Jenks Ok….after surgery Medicare offered free housekeeping..meals delivered from the senior center…in home physical therapy..etc….she still gets meals and house cleaning..and home health and occupation therapy were offered too..hope you can get all this too…blessings always 🌸🦋💕

  21. There is some rule about not being able to drive getting you home care. Also Meals on Wheels will deliver to you

  22. Brenda, I’m sorry to hear of this. I am glad some of the ladies can offer some advice as I have no experience with using in-home health care from Medicare. I didn’t even know it was available. I think you will have a clearer picture tomorrow after speaking with the doctor and his plans to repair.

  23. Please continue to explore all options other than surgery. Being non-weight bearing for two months or more is a big ask! Paying for caregiving out of pocket should be a last resort. Your granddaughter or grandson could help if you wait until summer when they are out of school.

    Lots of innovative options are available today but are not always covered by insurance. Here is one: “Prolotherapy is a natural, non-surgical method of assisting the body in healing ligaments and tendons. It involves the injection of dextrose, or other similar solutions (non-harmful irritants), into sites of pain in ligaments and tendons. When ligaments become relaxed and weak, they cause pain.”
    https://www.apmandr.com/treatments/prolotherapy/#:~:text=What%20is%20Prolotherapy%3F,and%20weak%2C%20they%20cause%20pain.

    Another possibility: “Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are gaining popularity for a variety of conditions, from sports injuries to hair loss. The treatment uses a patient’s own blood cells to accelerate healing in a specific area.”
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/plateletrich-plasma-prp-treatment%3famp=true

    My hope is you find the best option that includes adequate supportive care.

  24. Brenda, I agree with the comments above, call Medicare and ask what help they can offer. After that, speak to your house keeper, perhaps she can help with things like groceries and heavy lifting, etc.
    It sounds like you do need the surgery and you are going to need the help of your daughters, and your daughter will need some help from you too. You are in my prayers.

    1. I have groceries delivered. It’s what I do now anyway. With so many things that are deliverable nowadays, I won’t have any trouble I can’t handle.

  25. In my state is is illegal to drive with the boot on. I have Achilles tendonitis in both feet and I have hurt my perineal ligament in my rt foot. 6-8 weeks in ANOTHER boot. I’m going to have laser treatments to help with the perineal ligament. NOT COVERED BY MEDICARE. I guess we’re in the same boat. I’m 67 and can’t sit still. Like you I have much to do around my home!

    1. Yeah, I’ve always had the can’t-sit-still-itis. I don’t think it’s against the law to drive with the boot here. But I don’t like having to do it. It’s just the only way right now.

  26. Hi Brenda,
    Anna is right, call Medicare for the most accurate information. After being in pain for years my neighbor finally had his ankle replaced; left foot. He had to be completely off his feet with his ankle raised above his heart for a few weeks. He had weekly doctor appointments his wife took him to. He could drive at week 6. A physical therapist came to the house weekly. He was in a cast at first and then a boot and has gone back to work half days. 8 weeks start to finish. It takes time and you can’t push it. Well worth it when all is said and done.

    1. I don’t know much about ankle replacements. But I definitely know they aren’t as customary as knee replacements. I know a few people who’ve had them and it didn’t work out.

  27. The first thing I’d ask myself (if I were in your current situation) is how physically able am I to get around while 100% non-weight bearing? Went through this less than a year ago when my husband slipped on ice and broke his ankle. He has many health problems besides. He had the first surgery 4 days later (100% non-weight bearing), undid everything 5 days later, and had the second surgery 3 days after that. He’s had 3 more surgeries since then. Due to his overall poor health, the surgeon sent him to a nursing home for 30 days. I’m a small person, and my husband is 6’3″ and outweighs me by almost 100 pounds. The surgeon knew there wasn’t any way I could take care of him at home, but my husband was very angry. He did meet the requirements to return home after 30 days, but it was pure hell because he was still 100% non-weight bearing for another 6 weeks. He qualified for in-home physical and occupational therapy, declined in-home help, and it was almost the end of a not too happy 40+ year marriage. Now, almost a year later, he’s still having problems with the ankle, and his health continues to decline. Even though a person thinks they will have help from family, the reality of the matter may be totally different. We have a friend who’s more like family than our actual family, and she came to help 2 different times in 2021 (a total of 51 days) and just left last week after being here for 5 weeks. He goes to dialysis 3 times/week and has appointments on a regular basis with at least 7 different doctors. I’m 62, thankfully in good health and physical condition, but this situation is running me into the ground. If I outlive him, I pray I’m still healthy enough to enjoy whatever time I have left.

    1. Peg, great advice and insight. Reading your comment, I am concerned about your well-being. It’s a lot to deal with and sounds like your husband is a difficult patient. Please reach out to a support group, therapist, respite agency or other way to help you carry this load. It sounds like your needs have not been acknowledged. You deserve to be happier.
      Kate

    2. Overall I don’t have bad health. And I’ve had to use the knee scooter before. I’ve been looking at them and accessories I might need for them today online.

  28. Brenda, I do have a little knowledge but my first call after talking to the doc would be call medicare. They constantly change things and they can best answer you. My dad had it and got help post surgery at home and my husband has it and got lots of help after his surgery in November, but in hubs case it was different as it was a lung removal. It will be very helpful to call medicare and talk to them they give you the best info on all this.

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