A review from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 15
MOTHER'S HIP INJURY INSPIRES AUTHOR
My Mother's Hip: Lessons from the World of Eldercare
Reviewed by Diane C. Lade, Staff Writer
As a medical anthropologist, Luisa Margolies looks at how culture interacts with health and medicine. Her work has taken her throughout South and Central America, examining longevity among rural people.
But one of her studies proved far more difficult than any other in her 30-year career: The one about her own mother's hip.
"My mother's hip is every mother's hip," writes Margolies, in the introduction of her new 327-page book that chronicles a portion of her mother June's life, beginning with the moment she fell in April 1993 and fractured both her hips. Her parents had an apartment in a Pompano Beach retirement community, and Margolies divided her time between New York City and Venezuela.
The story that unfolds in My Mother's Hip: Lessons from the World of Eldercare (Temple University Press) will be familiar to thousands of South Floridians who have watched the slow decline of an aging loved one.
There are the battles with doctors and family members, and the painful transition from a private home to a care facility. There are adult children who live thousands of miles away and parachute in for each crisis, trying to stave off frustration and panic.
"This was the first time my own family was my subject, and I knew I had to write it," said Margolies, who now lives part of the year in her parent's Pompano Beach condo. She periodically returns from Venezuela for speaking engagements, and will be appearing this month at the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center in Boca Raton and at Nova Southeastern University in Davie.
For her next project, she is teaming up with Dr. Anthony Schiuma, a Fort Lauderdale orthopedic surgeon, on The Hip Primer. It will be an owner's manual for patients with broken hips, detailing the physiology of fractures, treatments and surgeries.
Margolies is following some of Schiuma's patients from the time of their injury through the next several years.
Falls and their resulting fractures often are the first step toward never-ending decline and a nursing home. Schiuma said statistics show that among hip fracture patients, 50 percent have died within two years after their injury. "Your hip breaks, you're in trouble," he said.
In the case of June Margolies, osteoporosis and medications for an autoimmune disorder had been silently whittling away her bones for years, unbeknownst to her or her daughter. Her mother's doctors think the one hip may have spontaneously fractured as her mother was standing, causing her to fall and break the other hip.
The names of her mother's physicians and care facilities have been slightly alteredMargolies said her publisher was afraid of a lawsuitbut most locals won't have any trouble figuring out the true identities.
Much of the personal narrative details what Margolies sees as the fractured mess of our healthcare system.
"It shouldn't have had to happen this way," Margolies said.
June Margolies died in a Boca Raton hospital five months after her hip fracture. Albert Margolis, her husband, quickly slipped deeper into dementia. In her book, Margolies writes that her father told her: "That's all I have, the past, because I have no future. Only death."
He died 10 months after his wife.