April 28, 2019

How to Empty a Bedside Commode One-handed

One problem I worried about before my knee surgery was stress incontinence.  While waiting for surgery I learned sudden knee pain can start a small urinary leak that turns into a flood after about 60 seconds.  This set off alarm bells.  I regularly get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and was worried about losing bladder control if I felt sharp knee pain.  I was freaked out about having to clean urine from my carpet.  A bedside commode would solve my problem but I live alone so who is going to empty it??

I cannot carry the bucket in my sound hand because I need that hand to hold a cane.  I was saved by serendipity.  Before surgery I put a laundry basket where it was easy for me to put dirty clothes in it.  The bottom of this basket is so smooth that it slides over carpeting like it is on ice.  This gave me an idea.  I asked a friend to put some water in the bucket and put it on top of the dirty clothes.  Instead of the liquid sloshing, the bucket was cradled by the clothes as I slid the basket into my bathroom.  My sound hand then carried the empty bucket to the shower for cleaning.  For safety, I slid the heel** of my affected hand on my bathroom counter to keep my balance.  My friend suggested I put the bucket on my shower chair and use the shower hose to rinse it rather than risking a fall by leaning down to put the bucket under the water spout.

I never needed the bedside commode.  Yet I felt triumphant because so many health professionals told me to get a bedside commode.  I also felt humbled because I arrived at the solution through sheer dumb luck instead of my OT degree and clinical experience.  homeafterstroke.blogspot.com

** heel of hand = palm of hand near the wrist

April 10, 2019

Linking New and Old Habits = Success

A PT helped me understand why walking and climbing four steps to my front door does not maintain strength in muscles that straighten the knee and bend it.  These muscles need to be strong to keep my arthritic knee in good alignment.  Despite this awareness I did not consistently do exercises at home after PT ended so my muscles got weak and my knee started to hurt again.
It has been 16 years since my stroke so the days of scheduling my day around a home exercise program is over.  However, pain motivated me to incorporate knee exercises into my daily routine.

I link a new habit to an old one and set goals I can do until I die.  For example, I sit down to don my shoes so I placed a leg weight on the floor next to my shoes.  After I tie my shoes I put the weight on my ankle and straighten my knee.  Twenty repetitions takes about 90 seconds so it is hard to find an excuse for leaving my bedroom without doing this exercise.

I was also did not do a knee flexion exercise.  So before I go to bed I put my purse and TV remote on the chair where I sit to use Theraband that is tied to a heavy piece of furniture (see arrow).  Walking to get the TV remote or get my purse before I leave the house is something I do even if I do not feel like exercising.  Since I am standing next to the chair I sit down, hook the Theraband on my ankle, and bend my knee for two sets of ten.

Incorporating exercises into my normal routine reduces my anger about having a chronic disease that will always require accommodation.  Linking new habits to old ones also provides memory aids (e.g. shoe, purse) so no thinking is required.  It is a relief not to feel guilty at 3 p.m. because I have not done the exercises I promised I would do. Twenty reps distributed throughout the day are not as effective as a long PT session, but life-long compliance is better than letting myself go down hill.  homeafterstroke.blogspot.com

April 2, 2019

Why I Both Refuse and Accept Help

I refuse help when I know I can do a task myself.  If a stranger offers to help I say "I can do it but thank you for offering."  Refusing help from friends and family is also important.  I do not want to be the sister or friend who repeatedly pulls the stroke card to get special treatment.  People know when they are being taken advantage of. 

I need to be independent when friends are not willing to change their habits to accommodate my needs.  My friends want to arrive just before the movie begins when most seats are taken.
I have to arrive 30 minutes early when the rows are empty.
I cannot creep past the feet of seated people.  With their feet hogging the narrow aisle, I have no place to put my cane tip on the floor.  Holding my cane off the floor puts me at great risk for a very bad fall.  Waiting for friends to arrive at the last minute forces us to climb up to the empty seats in the nose-bleed section.  So I drive myself and save seats for friends who want to join me.

However, I do not want my fierce independence to create a mess that other people have to clean up.  For example, on the rare occasion when I eat steak, I ask my brother or a friend to cut it up for me so it does not fly off the plate and land on the floor.  Even my best rocker knife is too dull to cut through dense meat fiber.