mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Colleen came home for an hour this morning! I helped her into the car, and was followed home by Peter and Amy, her physical and occupational therapists, for a "home evaluation". It was a fun outing, but turned up a lot of problems. Some were things I already knew, others rapidly became obvious as I tried to wheel Colleen around the house in the transport chair.

Some of the obvious stuff, that I'm either already working on or had on the list:

  • The bed is way too high. They agreed with me that a pair of hospital beds would be ideal. A couple of months' rental should get us enough information that we can order the right ones. I'll need to put in adjustable shelves in place of the headboard.
  • As much clutter as possible needs to be cleared out bedroom to give her manoevering room, including the laundry hamper and the desk. Since we were already planning to get rid of the desk, and have to clean out everything in order to have the carpet steam-cleaned, that's already in progress. Right now, of course, it's a mess.
  • The ramps need a piece of metal on the ends to allow a wheelchair to roll up them smoothly.
  • We'll need to take off the door on the back bathroom, and even the strip that the door seats against, in order for the walker to get through. We can put them back when she's able to go sideways, and use a curtain for privacy until then.
  • She's going to have to keep her cell phone on her, possibly on a neck lanyard, at all times. They didn't mention that, surprisingly, but I thought of it about a week ago.

Some things that weren't obvious before, but are now:

  • The big one: she needs a self-propelled wheelchair, not a transport chair. We may be able to get away with renting one until we can get a scooter, but right now she's not able to get around the house safely even with the walker, so she needs a chair with big sidewheels that she can get around in.
  • Speaking of which, there's a big difference between the four-wheeled contraption we bought a while ago, and the four-legged, two-wheeled frame properly called a "walker". Fortunately we have one of each. The walker is needed for both stability and leverage: she can get inside it and push down hard. Try that with the push-handles of the four-wheeled thingie and over it goes. Oops.
  • The front door threshold needs to be removed - it's a barrier to rolling. Probably best to weatherstrip the bottom of the door instead.
  • The area rugs need to be rolled up and put aside as long as she's going to be using a wheelchair.
  • We need to clear away all the floor clutter around her chair, to give her room to manoever the walker.
  • The kitchen island needs to be moved out of the kitchen in order to give a wheelchair room to manoever.
  • She needs a commode, not only next to the bed for night use, but in the living room for the day. We can put it in the media/sewing alcove and pull the curtains for privacy, as soon as she's able to make the trip safely in the walker. Since Kaiser didn't pay for the one we already have (I didn't realize they would), they can pay for this one.
  • I'll need to work from home in the morning, like I did when she was on TPN, so that I can get her safely out of bed and into the living room, as long as she needs the wheelchair and possibly beyond that. Fortunately I usually spend mornings on web stuff and email; I may need to be in for the occasional early meeting, but that's manageable.

A couple of things are already taken care of:

  • They suggested a "gait belt" to help her stand up, rather than just grabbing the waistband of her pants. I found a nice rainbow one at ABC that matches our luggage straps.
  • They've ordered a knee brace to keep her left knee from buckling; that should be arriving tomorrow sometime.
  • They'll be ordering the commode and the bed(s). I'll have to ping them about the wheelchair rental if I don't find one I want to buy, and ping her doctor about a scooter evaluation once she's home.
  • They'll be recommending outpatient PT rather than home care, which is too easygoing for what she needs. It'll mean she'll need transportation, but that's manageable as long as she can either get Outreach or can schedule times that work well for me (i.e. never on a Monday).

Date: 2009-04-24 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowe-wraithe.livejournal.com
((((((((((((((((((((STEVE N COLLEEN)))))))))))))))))))))))))

YEAH!!! Closer to return for good time!

It will all work out, and even though you may miss a thing or two, you will figure things out fairly quickly. Been there, Done That...gave up trying to write the book.

I will keep you all in my prayers and keep the candles lit for smooth transitions and quick recovery/healings.

Love, Hugs and Blessings,
Shadowe

Date: 2009-04-24 05:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mdlbear.livejournal.com
Thanks!!

Date: 2009-04-24 07:48 am (UTC)
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyrielle
Yay! Re the cell phone - if she falls, would having it on the lanyard risk a head blow? Other approaches might let it fly away tho.... Is a medic alert sort of service warranted, do you think?

Date: 2009-04-24 01:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mdlbear.livejournal.com
Good point. I'll have her talk to the PT people about it.

Date: 2009-04-24 12:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] acelightning.livejournal.com
It's really annoying how the average house is designed to be navigated only by feet! If a person uses crutches, a cane, a wheelchair, a walker - hell, even the time I had a sprained ankle in an air cast - architectural "features" like doorsills and steps become major impediments. (And we won't even talk about stairs.)

Here's an idea for the cell phone: Go to a fabric store and buy some 2"-wide elastic, preferably with a soft stretch rather than a stiff stretch - half a yard will be more than enough. Also get a package of pre-cut strips of Velcro™, and a small remnant of sturdy fabric. Make the elastic into a strap that will fit around her upper arm without either slipping off or cutting off circulation, using the Velcro to fasten the ends. Make a small pouch out of the fabric, just big enough to hold the cell phone so it won't fall out, but it can be slid out easily with one hand. Sew this firmly onto the elastic. She wears this on her "off" arm, where she can get at the phone with her stronger hand. (You may also be able to buy such a thing, already assembled, in a sporting-goods store, for joggers to keep their phones handy. But I think it'd be cheaper to make it.)

Date: 2009-04-24 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mdlbear.livejournal.com
Yeah. This house is not designed for invalids. Grump.

Good idea on the phone, though I'm not sure she'd go for having anything strapped to her arm. I'll ask.

Date: 2009-04-25 12:00 am (UTC)
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
From: [personal profile] firecat
If you do want to go for an arm holster, you can buy pre-made holsters intended for ipods but suitable for cell phones. Or for that matter, some of them come with lanyards.

Date: 2009-04-25 09:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] acelightning.livejournal.com
I find that having anything as large as a cell phone dangling from a lanyard around my neck is extremely awkward and annoying; furthermore, I very often wear necklaces with pendants, so they get tangled up with each other. And women's clothes are notoriously designed without pockets. I made an armband for myself - I had some brilliant purple 2" elastic lying around (I don't even remember where I got it, but it was a loooong time ago; I think my mother bought it at a garage sale!). I didn't sew a pouch, though, because I already have a cell phone holder with a sturdy clip on it; I just made a "pleat" in the elastic to clip it onto, so it doesn't slide around. Normally I keep my phone in my purse, but when I'm cooking, my purse is usually not nearby, so I switch to the armband. (I also have a Bluetooth earpiece, but setting this particular model of phone for voice dialing is a complicated procedure, and I keep forgetting to do it.)

May I offer some advice?

Date: 2009-04-24 06:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morganhillchris.livejournal.com
I learned this & other things the hard way when I was caring for Ann. Feel free to ask questions, I may well be able to 'mentor' you & possibly save you some some trouble:

1) Have her Dr. write prescriptions for equipment (scooters, a bath bench (*very* important!), transport, etc.. That way, insurance will cover the items.
2) I can tell you what to expect when signing up for Outreach para-transit (hint: contact them asap. They'll send you a huge pack of paperwork to fill out & then have the Dr. sign some of it & write a specific type of letter to Outreach)

Re: May I offer some advice?

Date: 2009-04-25 04:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mdlbear.livejournal.com
Thanks. We knew about needing a prescription for the scooter; we're still finding out what other stuff we can get.

We found out about Outreach a couple of weeks ago, fortunately, so that's all in progress.

Date: 2009-04-25 05:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] artbeco.livejournal.com
I second the idea of using a lanyard with a small pouch or something like that, but it's handy too if she can put a few other essentials in it as well, like tissues or some medicine or whatnot. I found it was incredibly frustrating not to be able to just get up and get some very simple things like that when I wasn't walking. And having her phone on her is brilliant. A fanny pack wouldn't work because you need to be able to go potty quickly without trying to wrestle with a stupid fanny pack, and they get in the way when you're trying to move around and so forth. I would have found an armband intensely annoying and I'd bet I would have tended to bash it on things or catch it on things.

I'd also recommend having a bed tray handy for when she's in her chair or in bed for any length of time because then she can put her things on the tray and be able to do things and it can be moved aside quickly relatively easily. I was very comforted to have my own stuff right there handy and to have some choice about what I wanted to have there to do. Sounds silly, perhaps, but the choice and freedom aspects become so important!

Clearing room for the wheelchair and walker is so daunting but so essential for letting her manuever around; we had to clear much wider passages than we expected when I was using the walker and wheelchair. The wheelchair especially was wider than we expected and took much more room to be able to turn around in than we thought. Bathrooms were especially difficult; the wheelchair wouldn't fit at all and I had to rely on the walker. It was quite difficult to do on one leg and very scary for quite a while to try to do very basic things in the bathroom; there's a very real danger of falling and getting really hurt.

You'll really need a shower chair or some way for her to bathe sitting down, and some good way to allow her to wash her hair, like in the shower with a shower head that is on a hose so it can be moved where she needs it. The moveable shower head was a godsend, really. If you don't already have one, it would be well worth it to put one in; ours wasn't too hard to install and it made my life sooo much more bearable. Hope you have a step-in shower, because stepping into a tub would be right out. Sponge baths are all right but I found that a good hot shower helps you feel so much better.

Anyway, my 2 cents worth. Good luck with it all and I'm thinking of you both with love. :)
*massive hugs*

Date: 2009-04-25 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mdlbear.livejournal.com
*massive hugs back*

We'll have to get a bed tray (preferably two, one for the living room and one for the bedroom; I'll have to see whether insurance will cover one of them).

The shower stuff isn't a problem: we already have a walk-in tub with a built-in seat and moveable showerhead. It's a bit of a step up to get in; that's the only thing that worries me a little. We got that a couple of years ago when her arthritis started making it impossible for her to use the regular tub.

Dragon area rug

Date: 2009-04-29 04:44 pm (UTC)
chaoswolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chaoswolf
I just had a quick question about that, how goes the wax removal for it? I love my dragon rug, and when I actually have a house to put it in, I'll appreciate it even more. I know, I should've thought of that sooner...but I didn't get a chance to. Wanted to inquire if Kaylee was coming over at any time to work on it, since she seems to have fun removing the wax from it.

Re: Dragon area rug

Date: 2009-04-29 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mdlbear.livejournal.com
Still pretty much the way it was when you left, but it wouldn't be hard for you to finish it once it arrives. Want me to have Jane see if it fits?

Re: Dragon area rug

Date: 2009-04-29 09:08 pm (UTC)
chaoswolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chaoswolf
Nah. The floor here is mostly carpeted, and I don't think it'd be a good idea with Duvaekk visiting occasionally. Like I said, I'd need a house to put it in.

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