First Solo Shower

I’m clean! I’m clean! Today I took my first solo shower in five months and it was WONDERFUL! I’d practiced with occupational therapy, figuring out where towels needed to be, and how to manage the actual washing, and standing up. That was a kind of risky part, but it worked and the legs stayed steady. What we hadn’t quite planned was that I would need three towels for this project – one for the wheelchair, one to dry off with, and one to mop up the water that got on the floor. To keep that from happening, I think I need to get a new shower curtain liner, and to rethink where the towels during the shower itself. No reason why they couldn’t get piled into the wheelchair instead of threaded through the grab bar. I’ll try that next time. Maybe tomorrow?

Some progress, some not

  1. OT is coming tomorrow afternoon and we’ll practice me giving myself a shower. Words can’t express how happy this makes me!
  2. PT is coming tomorrow morning. At least they’re not overlapping visits. There’s something wrong with my right big toe, very painful, maybe corns?, so it should be fun walking. Maybe Harry can take a look and tell me what to do for it. It’s unhappy most of the time anyway with nerves waking up, what’s a little more owie-ness? Except that would be bad.
  3. Foot doctor’s office is sending me an Rx for a left foot AFO to go with my right one. PT tells me these run about $1800 each. So far this is a very expensive year.
  4. Brickstreet Pharmacy will take back the unuseable blue wheelchair and give me a refund, but they don’t have any chairs that I need in stock and don’t seem interested in finding me one. So tomorrow I start making phone calls to other places. At least I know very precisely what it is I’m looking for now. I’m hoping that some of the places that may not usually have them would order for me if I give them exact specs. Apparently the wheelchair people don’t want to take orders directly from the folks who actually need to use them.

I need a shower

It’s been two weeks, and I feel horribly grubby. Oh, it’s not as bad as when I first went to rehab (that was a 3 week wait), because I’ve been giving myself sponge baths and washing my hair in the kitchen sink. But my aide had some medical issues to deal with and hasn’t been here, and now her schedule is changing again. I am not her priority, nor should I be, but it’s hard to work out something else when there’s so much I don’t know.

The plan was to work with Occupational Therapy last Friday on how to give myself a shower. I could figure out how to get in and get clean, but getting dry, out, and back in the chair was the challenge. But last Friday, an hour before the OT was scheduled to arrive, we got word that water was cut off to all of Meadow Lake. No water, no shower. We did strategize how to make it work but never got the chance to actually try it out. And ha, still no shower. I promised that I won’t try to do it when I’m completely on my own because I’m a major fall risk until we know for sure that our plan will work. Even then, I may need to have someone here while I shower, just in case. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

I’m hoping that will change sometime early this week. I’m tired of feeling grubby and smelly, though I probably feel those more than actually are real. Monday I’m calling about the wheelchair and will call the foot doctor AGAIN (after leaving a message on the portal last week for a promised 48 hour turn around that never happened). Except wait, it’s MLK Day so maybe they will all be closed. Ah well, I can still try and see what happens.

One good thing is that a small but very, very heavy box of genealogy reference books will be picked up tomorrow by the East Texas Genealogical Society to sell, donate, or give away as works best for them. They’re good books, I just no longer need them. They were in my car to go to the Tyler Public Library when I moved and then, well, never got there.

Image credit: Photo 83347015 © Anton Shevialiukhin

Another Day, More Therapy

Let me start by following up on a few things from yesterday that generated a fair amount of comment. First, the wound on the back. I saw the Director of Nursing this morning and asked if he had heard back from my surgeon about the photo of the wound that I knew had been sent. The doctor was apparently not worried about what he saw, confirmed my next visit as being Sept. 22nd (next week), and asked that the wound be dressed daily. The dressing was changed this morning and was, in fact, placed better to provide protection from gait belts. The rest of the incision is healing beautifully and doesn’t need to be covered. Rest assured that I will stay on top of this.

Second, aides helping me dress but doing too much themselves. This morning’s aide is one I know and who knows what I’m trying to do for myself, and she let me do what I could before asking for help. I talked with the OT this afternoon about the best way to approach this with other aides, and she confirmed that simply saying that “I know I need help but I also want to see how much I can do for myself first” was the way to go. I like to know everyone’s name and to chat with them through their time with me – I don’t take them and their valuable help for granted, and I always thank all of them for whatever help they provide. I do not want to be THAT PATIENT that no one wants to see when the bell goes off. But I also know that I need to stand up for what I want and need because I want to go home. As I add new life skills, I will be clear in conveying what they are and what I need to be working on so they become ingrained.

One of my therapy friends went home today, an 87 year old woman recovering from knee replacement surgery. She’s done very well in her therapy and recovery, and was a delight to talk to at meals. I’m very proud of her progress and the grace with which she faced her challenges. Another man on my hall also left today but he was going to a nursing home, which he doesn’t want to do. My next door neighbor had a stroke in July and has been here a month; she’s not ready to go anywhere yet. And there are a few others. Most of us take our meals together, though not all and not all the time. By dinner time, many of us are just really tired. But today I’m heading out to see what’s for dinner – it’s usually a mystery even though we had the chance to select our meals, we’ve forgotten by the time the food shows up. It’s never actually that good.

PT this morning started again with a walk from my room to therapy, which is 175 feet. I had one short stop on the way after 75 feet. Once in the therapy room, we started at the bar by doing standing leg exercises. To my surprise, they were actually easier to do today than yesterday, though don’t get me wrong, these muscles still need a lot of help. It’s easier to do the leg lifts and kicks and even marches while standing instead of in the chair. Have I mentioned that I’m not in love with being in the chair? After these exercises, I did 15 minutes on the stationary bike, doing some little pattern with a goal of keeping a car in the middle of a lane by pressing evenly with both feet. Press too hard with the right, and the car goes into the right lane; the same if you press too hard with the left. It’s still boring but it’s less boring than doing the arm bike (which I did in the afternoon) with nothing to look at. Oh, and I almost forgot already that I walked another 100 feet at the end of therapy. Couldn’t make it the whole way, but It’s still progress.

OT started right after lunch with the arm bike (see above) and then scooting myself around the mat from one side to the other and back again. This should be easier than it was, but my pants kept getting twisted up. And going around the corners was very hard. Note to self: try not to scoot around corners on your butt. After that we did a fun exercise with a big orange ball and a 3 lb weighted stick, with the therapist tossing it to me and me hitting it back to her using the stick. I thought it was just hand-eye coordination and arm work, but apparently it’s also working unsupported back, and trunk flexibility and some other stuff I’ve already forgotten. It was more fun than scooting, I’ll tell you that. We finished up with standing at the bar and putting little rings on posts on different sides, then putting them back, followed by a similar exercise where I had to shift my weight and side step to reach the place to put the little rings. I noticed that my left leg was picking up but the right leg was just sort of dragging, so I made more of an effort to actually STEP and not just slide it. More work but necessary. Yayyy me for noticing it.

I had a visitor this afternoon and we got caught up in general and also spent some time going over questions she had from covering part of my church job while the position is vacant. I feel a tad guilty about resigning with no notice; I don’t think I had a choice, but I’ve never done that in a job before. So since many of the tasks are things that I started, or at least in their present format, I’m happy to help someone else figure out how to do them. I never want any job to be gutted because one person is missing; very few people are irreplaceable. I know I’m not, but I never planned to leave without an exit plan to help someone new pick up the tasks.

Oh, one more thing – I saw the head of maintenance from the building I live in, and asked about the status of the porch screen and the glass shower door. The porch screen is in process (they had to wait for materials) and the other had submitted a quote but no commitment had been made. So I had a chance to kill that shower door before it got started. When I asked for the shower to be glassed in, I was walking. Now I’m in a chair and headed for walker. What I need is a roll in shower, which I already have. No glass door will make bathing a lot easier for me. So relieved I was able to stop that without incurring any funds!

Therapy Notes – Monday, 9/6/21

Today was my last full day of therapy here, and I made it count. Started the morning by walking to the bathroom from my bed using the walker, about 25 feet. This is a life-skill and a goal I wanted to reach before I leave. I did it again in the afternoon, walking to AND from the bathroom with the walker. I felt kind of normal. Getting up off the commode is still difficult with a grab bar only on one side, but I had help.

I also had help getting another shower and shampoo. I wanted to leave here clean and with clean clothes, and it was soooo relaxing to wash. I don’t know the schedule for showers at Meadow Lake so it was important to do this today. Tomorrow will be busy with packing, an hour of PT, and checking with various doctors and the case manager.

In PT I broke my own record and walked 75 feet with the walker, without a trailing wheelchair, followed by another 25 feet after a short break. My goal for tomorrow is to walk 100 feet or all the way around the central core area in the rehab space. We used the rest of the time to do standing leg exercises, which naturally involved a lot of standing up as well as the actual exercises. I’m definitely smoother doing it. We ended with 15 minutes on the Cybex Kinetron, which I absolutely despise. Miss V said that things I hate are exactly the ones I need to do. Grrrrrrr.

Veronica reminded me that I need to set very small, specific goals of tasks I need to be able to accomplish on my own before I can go home, things like getting in and out of bed by myself, and putting my shoes on, none of which I can do now. By the time I go home, I won’t be under the back precautions from the surgery, so I’ll be able to bend as well as twist and lift (within limits), and those will help me do some of those things on my own.

Most of our OT time was spent doing the shower, but I went back after lunch and we did more standing, this time at the raised wooden table where we worked a jigsaw puzzle. I stood up for 7 min 45 sec, yes, leaning against the table, but still, standing up.

My back has a not happy spot that looks to me as though it’s abscessed, but the doctor doesn’t think so. But it needs to have a dressing and that process is changing. The wound nurse didn’t come back to finish that, so right now it’s open and feels quite uncomfortable without some padding. I’m hoping she finds me before she goes off duty.