As soon as it became apparent that my Mom needed a double knee replacement we began to prepare Robby. He loves his Nana and we didn't want to try to hide the situation from him. I knew that I was going to making frequent trips to help her recover and trying to disguise my purpose would be practically impossible.
We sat down Robby and carefully explained that Nana was going to have surgery and that I was going to go to the hospital to be with her. I told him that her doctor was going to give her two new knees but that she would be okay. I continued by assuring him that after she healed and learned how to use the knees she wouldn't hurt anymore and continued by predicting that she would be able to push him on the swing again. Robby seemed to accept my explanation and, with the exception of making sure that she would be asleep for the surgery, he didn't have any questions.
Everyday while I was away Robby asked about his Nana. He fretted that she was in pain and worried that she was sad. Yesterday, upon hearing that we were going to stay at Nana's house, and that he was going to be able to visit her, he took off skipping into his bedroom with a look of purpose on his face. I frantically packed for our trip, trying to anticipate every need, when he came into our room with a handful of change. It turns out that he was raiding his piggy bank because he wanted to go to Cupcake Heaven to buy Nana a "yummy surprise."
After getting packed up, kissing Daddy goodbye and securing the cupcake treat, Robby and I took off on our road trip to visit Nana. He quietly played his DS for the first two hours of the drive, affording me some much needed quiet time. As we neared the rehab facility, he put down his little electronic toy and began to ask questions.
At first he wanted to know if Nana was still hurting. I explained that she is still ouchy but promised that she is getting better everyday. He then wanted to know if she can walk on her new knees yet. I took the opening to warn him that she is using a walker to help her get around.
His final question took me off guard. "Momom, did Nana get the new C-Leg or did she get the Rheo knee?" (In case you are unfamiliar, the C-Leg and the Rheo are two commonly used prosthetic knees.) I almost slammed on the brake when I realized that Robby thought that Nana's "new knees" were prosthetics!
It never occurred to me to explain that the knees were implanted inside her body, not donned like my leg. Robby is so used to being around amputees that he simply assumed that the "new knees" were prosthetics. A visible sign of relief come across his face as I explained that she has the same legs because the doctor simply replaced the bones inside.
He was delighted to learn that the knee could be replaced without cutting off the entire leg. "Wow. I didn't know that they could do that. It's a good thing that she kept her feet because walking with two C-Legs is really REALLY hard!"
I just love his unique perspective on the world!