Tue 12 May 2009
Written by Jeff
Non-GOTM pictures credited by hover notes – move cursor over image
Changes in attitude, changes in latitude
Having gotten things under way with the walker and the wheel chair, I was feeling pretty good, but when discussing our coup with my wife, she said: “Did you request a light weight wheel chair?” Duh, no I didn’t. So…the next day it was on the phone to the medical supply place and a need to get a new request for a LIGHT WEIGHT wheel chair. These are more expensive to buy/rent and therefore need a special request; it couldn’t just be changed.
Here is my gripe. When a patient goes to an orthopedic doctor with the type of injury I had, the office should know what a person my age would need. They have been through this before. I should have left the office with an order for a light weight wheel chair with right leg extension, a shower stool and a wheeled walker with a seat or knee rest (at least a rental). The only thing they offered me was an order for a pair of crutches. I had to “discover” my needs as I bumped around the house the next couple of days.
It is very difficult to use the bathroom facilities having only crutches to help one on and off the commode. Standing up using the crutches provides even more of an adventure.
So here I am trying to use the crutches and putting my entire body weight on my left leg. This in turn caused me pain in my left knee which had its fair share of abuse during my life. It was quite a realization how having the one foot out of commission puts added strain on different parts of the body.
One of the things that was most bothersome was the abrasive quality of the cast. No matter how much buffering material they put around it, the fiberglass (or other substance) used to mold the outside of the cast has a netting-like mesh that can abrade soft tissue and other things. At times I found myself stuffing part of an Ace bandage down my cast and wrapping the rest around my leg so it buffered the area from where the cast stopped up and around the back of my knee. This was getting very sore prior to this improvisation.
Carrying anything was certainly a challenge with the crutches. I found myself wearing items with large pockets. I did try to use a canvas tote over my shoulder, but it swung wildly and tended to pose more balance questions. The walker provided a better opportunity for carrying items. The walker had a basket, but it did not stay in place properly on my model so I hung the canvas tote over the handlebars. This allowed me to carry books, bottled water, pencil, etc. Coffee still provided some work, but using a large travel mug with lid was a big help. Overall the walker and canvas bag added greatly to the quality of my daily routine.
Another important aspect of my living with all of these life aides, was the purchase of several bottles of waterless, anti-bacterial lotion. I carried one with me at all times, placed one in the bathroom for use immediately after toileting and another on top of the kitchen counter. These provided a sense of cleanliness and made it easier to go about my daily routine in a relatively normal fashion.
My last puzzle was how to do the ordinary things like putting on my shoes, getting in and out of bed and getting in and out of cars. Whenever I favored my “good” leg, it tended to get strained and twisted. I used it for pivoting, but this did put extra pressure on my knee and ankles. Luckily I am in fairly good physical condition, but I could still sense the physical strain. One of my biggest frustrations was finding comfortable sitting positions. Where could I place my heavy leg with its bulky cast?
In general, I faired pretty well. As a “belly sleeper”, sleeping on my back and keeping my leg on top of the covers wasn’t the most natural position for me, but I did manage to get a decent rest most nights. I would be fooling you to say that I wasn’t counting the days until I am out of the cast, but then again, who wouldn’t be?
NOTE – It has been several months since I originally had the accident and my break did not heal completely. I now realize that I did not receive the appropriate treatment in a timely fashion and thus missed the best healing window. I am in no real pain and I can do everything I want up to a point; I just need to do things more slowly. My walking is a bit unsteady and I still have a limp, but I am hoping with the appropriate PT (which I do daily) and regular use that I will continue to see progress. I have another visit with the doctor in a couple of weeks and we will make some decisions at that point. This has been a real education!
Gardening on the Moon, www.gardeningonthemoon.com, originally published this post