The month of October – part 1

Calendar entries highlighted in yellow

1st October – Remap to the rescue

Richard, from Remap called round this afternoon to take a look at the ergo rest arm support I have been struggling with since being based upstairs. He has taken it away with him so that he can fashion another extended arm support gutter similar to the one I have downstairs fixed to my dining table. In the meantime he has removed the one from downstairs and adapted the clamp so that it can be attached to my desk upstairs. This has made a terrific difference to my comfort as for the last few days my right shoulder has been drooping because the arm support I was using only supported my hand.

2nd October – Care package review / The return of the stairlift track / Further equipment loans

I had a meeting at midday with Rachel, my social care manager, to discuss what alterations would be needed to my care package in light of my accident, diminishing strength and stability. I feel that I am definitely at the stage now where I need to have someone around me for more hours of the day, not just to provide care, but supervision in case I run into difficulties. In recent weeks certain tasks have become progressively more difficult and it was only a matter of time anyway before I would have had to relinquish them. So I have asked for an additional 30 minutes on my morning calls and the same for my evening calls. I have also asked to have a 30 minute night call added as I can no longer undress myself or brush my teeth. Even getting into bed by myself is becoming a problem because of the difficulty in positioning the duvet over me. Rachel will now go back to her contact at the NHS Continuing Care review board to seek approval for the additional funding.

Liftech have returned this afternoon as promised and have installed the new extended piece of stairlift track. The additional 350mm of track has made a significant difference and has enabled the chair to come onto the landing so that when the chair rotates it feels a lot safer getting on and off. No longer is my body still in the stairwell with my feet hanging off the edge of the landing which gave me no confidence at all and which I felt was an accident waiting to happen. I did have some concerns about how far into the doorway to my study would the new track protrude, whether it will be a trip hazard, and how much of the doorway would be blocked if the chair was parked on the landing. I’m pleased to say that for now at least I can safely navigate past the parked chair into my study. In fact with the chair parked at the top the landing it obscures the track and removes the danger of tripping over it plus as an additional benefit it acts as a partial barrier to the stairwell. So when Kim came round to do my dinner this evening we gave it a try out and for the first time in a week I was able to revisit my own dining room and have dinner downstairs. Getting on and off the chair isn’t too bad although I would feel a whole lot more confident with someone around especially at the top where I have to walk backwards to sit on the chair. I could still seriously hurt myself if I were to misjudge it or if my balance went. At the moment I couldn’t operate it myself even if I wanted to as they have yet to come up with a ‘hands-free’ control mechanism. That is what they are hoping to sort out next week. But at least in the meantime I have access to the downstairs again as well as being able to go out and socialise.

Hampshire county council’s equipment service called round this afternoon with a couple of pieces of new equipment. The first is an AquaJoy bath lift which I’m really looking forward to trying out. I’ve been making do with a slatted bath board for the past year or so which was okay if I just wanted to sit down whilst having a shower, but what I really miss is being immersed in hot water with lots of bubbles so this is going to seem luxurious after a year going without. Time to dust off those rubber ducks and battleships! smile_regular

The other piece of equipment is a glideabout chair/commode which will be kept in the bedroom. As a glide about it may allow me to move from room to room upstairs whilst remaining seated and thus minimise the risk of falls. I believe it may also be rolled over the toilet to give greater height. At the moment though I’ll just be using it as a simple chair albeit higher than the one I had previously.

3rd October – Boys Toys

I’ve been having problems with my electric kettle lately. It’s one of those Breville Lightning’s where the whole water chamber lights up blue. I’ve had it a few years but lately it has caused one of the house circuits to trip out twice resulting in my carers having to go out to the garage to reset the fuse box. Today it died altogether in a spectacular flash which startled poor Francesca. Time for a new one! So after browsing the Argos website (we have one of their stores up the road) I settled on an even more gimmicky kettle, the Breville Spectra. This one doesn’t just glow blue it glows all the colours of the rainbow as the water gradually heats up, a true boy’s toy! Francesca and I stood there in a darkened kitchen mesmerised watching it cycle through all the colours. Sure it’s expensive and considering I’ve just had a Breville that’s blown up probably not the wisest choice but I couldn’t resist having something a little snazzy in the kitchen to liven things up. And besides I don’t buy many things these days. Mind you if this one dies I’m going back to the real basic kettles; the ones with whistles.

4th October – Bliss!

I had a real treat this morning. Francesca called early so she could set up my new AquaJoy bath lift and leave me to luxuriate in a hot bath whilst she got on with some housework. Oh how lovely it felt to be immersed in hot water once again rather than being sprayed. I can’t even remember the last time I had a bath. The bath lift is simple to use and gently lowers you into the bath almost silently. It doesn’t quite get you down to the bath floor level but gets pretty close. On this particular model the back support doesn’t recline as I was told by my OT that those models take up more room in the bath. Even so it is a massive improvement over what I had and improves my quality of life.

5th October – Approved! / Stairlift woes / Nuisance calls

I had some good news this morning. Rachel, my social care manager phoned to say that funding approval had been granted for an additional 1 1/2 hours each day which is exactly what we had requested. So my care package will grow from 28 hours per week to 38 1/2 hours per week (5 1/2 hours per day), a clear indicator of my escalating needs. But the good thing about it is not just having the extra care but also having someone around for more hours of the day in case I run into difficulties, a comforting reassurance when living alone.

My stairlift has been giving me problems… already! It has become very temperamental in deciding whether it wishes to move or not when a carer uses the joystick control on the armrest. We first noticed the problem last Friday when we couldn’t get it to take me back upstairs straightaway and it only worked after much messing around with the joystick and me wriggling around on the seat. The problem persisted all weekend but today it has begun stopping one step before ground level and failing to move when in the parked position at the top of the landing. Fortunately I have the folks from Liftech calling on Wednesday so I’ll get them to look at it then.

I seem to be plagued with nuisance phone calls the past few days which makes me wonder if I have a big neon sign stuck on my roof saying ‘please phone me’. These things are an irritation at the best of times but as each call requires me to stand up so that I can swing my arms and grapple the phone they are costing me valuable energy. Standing up is getting harder and harder so you can imagine how happy I am when after all the effort of picking up the receiver all I hear is a recorded message.

6th October – Dropping like flies / Measuring up / Remap does it again!

My care package is starting to creak and groan as my main carers succumb to colds, chest and throat infections, and the flu. Kim pulled out after doing my personal care yesterday morning and is still off. Francesca is really quite poorly and has had to pull out of all her commitments this week and is laid up in bed. Only Ann remains unaffected at the moment and she is due to go on holiday later this week. So at the moment the care agency is struggling to fill my calls, which is not made any easier by the fact that other carers are also off sick. Even the home care manager is off sick!

Roger, the craft technician working for the OT services, called round this afternoon to do so measuring up outside my front door. The intention is to do away with the timber platform that was fabricated about a year ago which enabled me at that time to gain access to the lock on the front door by raising me up about 8 inches or so. Now however that platform is becoming dangerous as stepping on or off it plays havoc with my balance. In its place I am going to have a ramp that will be wheelchair friendly. I’m told that it will be ready in about 10 days.

Richard (my friendly contact with Remap) has saved the day again. For quite some time now I’ve had to stand up and position myself directly over the cordless phone so that I can operate it. I would then have to use one hand to steady the phone with my other pressing the buttons. My phone has a curved underside which sits neatly in the palm of your hand, except of course I can no longer hold it, which means if I place the phone on the table and then just use one hand to press down on the buttons the whole phone will rock side to side and slide about. The other day it occurred to me that all I really needed was some kind of cradle that will support the telephone and be of sufficient mass not to slide about the table. I sent an e-mail to Richard a few days ago explaining my thoughts and asked him what he could do to help. This afternoon he dropped in with a neat looking cradle fashioned out of a piece of oak wood. The base was covered in nonslip rubber so the whole thing would stay in one place, and the wood had been scooped out of the middle and profiled in the approximate dimensions of my phone. Again there was some rubbery material on the inside to act as padding and to prevent slippage. It worked straightaway! Now when I’m sitting at the computer with my arm in the ergo rest support all I need to do is pivot in the opposite direction and I can reach out and activate the phone. No more do I have to stand up to pick up the receiver, sit down to listen, stand up to end the call, and sit down again to carry on working. What an energy saver! And like all the best ideas it is simple but efficient.


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