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).