Archive for the ‘Health and Safety’ Category

A Lot to Think About

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

An Orthotics Option?

Today Nyel had an appointment with the Hanger Clinic in Astoria.  They deal with orthotics and prosthetics.  In case you are not clear, orthotics is that branch of medicine that deals with the provision and use of artificial devices such as braces.  Nyel already has a complicated knee brace that was helpful in stabilizing his leg after his quadriceps parted company with his knee for the third and final time.  Now that he no longer has a hip, he needs something more.  Perhaps something that goes from hip to ankle and involves cables attached to his good hip for extra stability.  Complicated and not altogether ideal.

However, the physical therapist at OBH strongly advised him to look into the possibility.  Nyel’s ultimate goal is to be able to walk again with a cane.  However, without the stability offered (hopefully) by a sophisticated custom-built orthotic, there really isn’t a path forward for him.

While we were at the Hanger Clinic, the word “amputation” came up for the first time.  In that case, a prosthesis  (artificial leg) would be the way to go.  There are many advantages, apparently.  And, even if he can get reconstructive surgery (which he is looking into), there are no guarantees that, down the line, amputation wouldn’t still be required.  So, part of the equation to consider must be whether or not to try “smaller” fixes first.

A Prosthetic Option

A crystal ball would be good.  In lieu of that, the Hanger clinician said that she would be glad to put Nyel in touch with patients who have had similar problems (though she admitted that she had only seen a few with Nyel’s complications).

There was lots to talk about on our way home.  Nyel, as always, is pragmatic — weighing pros and cons and making arrangements to talk to his various doctors and, if possible, to someone with a similar case history.  Bless him!

Oh no! Another country heard from!

Friday, July 5th, 2019

During my childhood, when things got so complicated that my mother thought she’d probably have a nervous collapse, something else would invariably happen.  Whether it had to do with a person or an event or just an unexpected circumstance, my mom was sure to say, “Oh no!  Another country heard from!”

Those very words came tumbling out of my mouth just a few weeks ago.  Nyel was still at the Seaside swing bed facility and I was spending days with him and nights here at home.  I felt a little overwhelmed with things that Nyel needed,  household responsibilities, and did I pay that bill or not?

About the second or third evening, as I was moving through the laundry room into the kitchen, I heard a distinct rustling.  I turned on the light just in time to see a furry little mouse dart behind the freezer.  Another country heard from, indeed.

So… I checked the nearby shelving where we store extras — mostly household supplies from CostCo, canned tomato sauce (salt free for Nyel) for spaghetti or pizza or lasagna, bottles of mustard and mayo and catsup.  We laughingly call it our ‘pantry’ but it’s really our overflow.  Sure enough — mouse droppings, holes chewed through the cellophane wrappers of three (count ’em three!) packages of rice crackers — one package totally empty(!) and the other two with several crackers missing.  I pitched all of them, cleaned up the mess, and set a couple of mouse traps with peanut butter.  Adams peanut butter.  It’s the best.

Several days went by.  Then… peanut butter missing, trap sprung, no mouse.  I repeated the peanut butter and trap routine several times.  So did Ms. Mousie.  (Probably Mrs. Mousie.  She certainly stashed enough rice crackers to feed a large family.  Or maybe enough for an army and she’s General Mousie.)

I told Nyel about our visitor (read live-in companion) and he gave me advice — as in maybe I should call the exterminators who come once a month to spray our outer perimeter to keep us “pest free.”  Good idea.  The “technician” came a few days ago carrying a clipboard and wearing one blue vinyl glove.  I showed him the area and a bit of mousie evidence I hadn’t cleaned up.  He felt around behind one of the shelves with his blue hand and said (rather ominously, I thought), “Oh yes.  Still soft.”  Turns out he was sticking his gloved finger in a pile of unseen mousie doo-doo.

He explained their “rodent service.”  They set traps using Adams peanut butter and, if you aren’t too squeamish, they will lay those glue pads out — pretty much foolproof he said.   He appeared to be through talking so I said, “And what about the clean-up?”  “Oh we don’t do that.  That would be your responsibility.”  SAY WHAT???  FOR $250 YOU SET A TRAP OR TWO AND THAT’S IT?  “Pretty much,” was the answer.

We still have a mouse problem.  We are still putting traps (and a sticky pad) out.  Yesterday, no mouse, trap not sprung but there was one slightly nibbled rice cracker way out in the middle of the floor — as in nyah-nyah-nyah!  I’m trying to figure out how I can move that damned freezer.  I really do NOT want to see what’s behind it.  And I guess I’ll have to take everything off the shelves and see whether there are more “soft” spots.   eeeewwwww!  But first I have to get over that whole $250-to-set-a-trap-or-two thing.  Do they really sell such a service?  If so, there must be a lot of desperate little old ladies out there .  I hope I don’t have to join their ranks!

Ins and Outs, Up and Downs

Monday, May 6th, 2019

Farmer Nyel – A Few Summers Ago

I was deep asleep in a real bed at the Providence Guest Inn last night when my cell phone rang.  1:26 the readout said.  The doctor on duty said she thought I should know that Nyel was experiencing some serious, unexplained bleeding…

Fifteen minutes and I was in his room.  They (four of them)were re-wrapping the “wound-site” (read: where his surgery had taken place a week ago), the bleeding had stopped, his vital signs looked good, they were working on pain control, and they were continuing to evaluate.  Nyel said I’d missed the “big show” — said there were a great many people in his room for a while.  He, of course, asked the doctor not to call me.  I’m so grateful she did (and, Nyel said with a big smile, “So am I.”)

Basking Nyel — A Summer or So Ago

“They just gave you a unit of blood earlier today,” I reminded him.  “Guess I didn’t really want it,” was his response.  The tension in the room dissipated somewhat…

Nyel slept for an hour or two.  So did I.  The cardio-mem technician came and got a reading on his heart pressures.  The ultrasound technician brought his portable machine and took a reading. Or a picture or whatever. As we speak ,the wound-specialist team is here looking and evaluating.  A surgeon (the one that did his first surgery in March) will come in when he can (between other surgeries) to weigh in.

For my part — lots of watching, listening, waiting.  Nyel is tired, dozes when he can, and is generally stoic, as always.  We both thank all of our “followers” for their interest and good thoughts and I, especially, apologize for not being in touch with each of you, individually.   Your concern and your messages have been a wonderful solace through all of this.


Coming to Consensus

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

They say “too many cooks spoil the broth.”  We hope to hell #1 that 20+ doctors are not too many and #2 that hospitals and kitchens are in no way comparable.  Now that Nyel’s care is being fine-tuned for possible discharge, we are eagerr for all of his caregiving teams to agree on next steps.

In general, everyone wants him back on the dosages and protocols that he was following before coming into the hospital.  But, of course, his body has undergone changes — loss of bone (and height!), increased degrees of heart failure and kidney dysfunction, etc. etc.  In addition, his blood pressure is not coming up as “they would want” and how to address that problem is one of many other “details” under discussion.

At best it is nuts-making.  At worst it is terrifying.  Who to listen to?  Who to believe?  Is it the doctor with the charming bedside manner who is most interested in Nyel’s comfort?  Is it the doctor who judges everything by the numbers (and believe me, there are dozens of them that they look at before and after every bit of input, output and putt-putt!)  Or is it the doctor who seems to feel experimental — sort of the do-this-and-wait-and-see approach?

And, of course, there is the most basic of all considerations — how does Nyel feel?  Today — not so good.  Not nearly as well as he felt yesterday.  Again, everyone weighs in with a different idea as to why.  Fortunately, opinions are somewhat limited as it’s Sunday and there don’t seem to be as many doctors on duty.  Or maybe they are out celebrating Cinco de Mayo.    I surely wish we were!

Another Rite of Passage

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Look who’s in our shower!

Grab bars have never been high on my home decorating wish list.  In fact, though I cringe a bit at admitting it, I’ve always been a little bit put off by a motel or hotel room assignment that includes those handicap amenities.  On the other hand…

Now that falling has become a part of our lifestyle (well… Nyel’s lifestyle, and mine by default (at least so far) … we have developed new sensibilities.  Almost.  We aren’t jumping up and down for joy, mind you, but we have fully conceded that this is the way to go.  Grab bars in the shower!  Woot!  Woot!

One of the Occupational Therapists working with Nyel seems to be focused primarily on Shower Safety.  On her second visit to the house when Nyel was scarcely able to get out of his wheelchair and into a standing position, she insisted that he demonstrate to her how he would be able to manage in the shower.  We do have a shower seat (from previous needs) which I found and put into the stall.  Then Nyel used wheelchair, walker, and a bit of balancing help from the two of us women to demonstrate where he would need to have supports in getting himself safely into and out of the shower.

The O.T. marked the walls with a handy-dandy felt-tipped marker and we called Don-The-Tile-Guy and asked if he could help us out.  (We figured that since he put the tiles in, he should have the privilege of drilling and screwing and all that.)  He said, “No Problem.”  He measured, advised us what and how many to order and… today is Installation Day!

Safety First!

I’m not sure why it is, but I’m liking what I see.  Maybe it’s because I have great faith in Don.  Maybe it’s because the safety measures are for us, specifically.  Maybe it’s because this is our choice and we are feeling good about being pro-active concerning safety where and when it’s possible.  Not that any of Nyel’s falls could have been prevented by grab bars… But maybe his next one can.  Or my first one…

It’s interesting about rites of passage.  Baptisms, weddings, birthdays, retirements all can be anticipated with eagerness.  But those connected with aging … not so much.  The best spin we can put on this one is to focus on the glories of showers!  When I was a kid, we didn’t have such a luxury.  Baths were it!  And… if you couldn’t get into or out of the tub, you just made do with “spit baths.”  So, I say – Hooray for showers and for the grab bars that make them safe for us old folks!  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.  And, in this case, the emphasis is on holder!