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cherylm

I'm looking for some tips and tricks...

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Hi, gang...I've got a situation, and I'm hoping that some of you who have dealt with recovering from a "variety" of injuries might have a tip or two for me..........

My brother-in-law took a nasty fall today and basically "broke himself very badly." He's a big, heavy-set fellow -- 6'1" and well over 300 pounds -- and he was already dealing with a bad right foot and ankle and a hip that really should have been replaced (but has not been, because of his size and weight). Today he managed to break his kneecap (but "probably" not the actual joint), his wrist (which may "possibly" need a cast), and his shoulder (which no-one seems to know how to try and repair at this point)...all of this on his right side. There's also some possibility of trouble with his left leg, but they've had problems getting a clear x-ray of the site. He is, of course, right-handed (sigh........) so that's yet another complication.

He was admitted to the hospital for tonight, until he can be seen by an orthopod in the morning...but once they figure out how to stabilize all the various fractures he'll most likely be sent home. "Home" is a small cottage-style house with narrow outdoor walkways, stairs at all entryways, and a totally handicapped-inaccessible bathroom.

We're all assuming that there will be some home-health vivits, DME coverage for some assistive devices, and some physical and occupational therapy, and there will be a fair number of family and friends to "stop by and help out." But my sister's job is 20 miles from home, so there will be a fair amount of time when he'll be "on his own." Since I'm retired, I'm likely to be taking up a good deal of the "slack" when it comes to getting him around. I'm good at figuring out how to do things one-legged, of course...I'm even good at dealing with one-legged and blind, thanks to a really frustrating personal experience. But one-legged and not able to use an arm as well is far outside my experience! All of my various "adaptations" have entailed being able to have both my arms available!

So has anyone out there figured out ways of doing things with one entire side of your body taken out of commission with a variety of casts, braces, and/or slings?? If so, would you mind sharing them with me?????

Thanks in advance!

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That's a tough one Cheryl..

When I was all busted up, I was in the hospital, so those things weren't a problem. Someone was always on duty..Needless to say, that large of a fellow will be difficult to move around.. Be very careful, if he gets off balance, you could end up hurting yourself if you are assisting him and he's moving from point a to point b..

Have your sister contact your local health department to see if they have a home health program. They may have sitters that can come in to assist your brother in law. That may be the best situation.Usually those programs are oriented around your monthly gross income. They charge according to what you make, and that usually very little. It sounds like his best option is a temporary bed in a downstairs room if they have that many different levels to their house..Someone that size is very diffcult to move around safely.For him or the person helping..

I am presuming that you are still attending the conference?

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You have some work cut out for you and like Higgy said; don't get hurt yourself. I agree that he should sleep downstairs on a twin bed thats well up off the floor. Get a toilet seat that raises the height so it's easier to get up and down. Get a walker that he can grab onto for support if he can even get up on his own. The danger is he may keep re-injuring himself if he struggles and stumbles early on. I've never dealt with anyone with those problems. If you get some home health care visits, have a list of questions ready for them.

Sounds like a great time for him to go on a diet. I had so much success with Atkins low carb diet 6 years ago that I'm still singing it's praises.

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Was going to say what the other two said Cheryl, take care of yourself .... I live in UK so things probably done differently but we have OT's to help sort out problems like your brother has or might have in the way of adaptations/assistance in the home. But over here, I notice the more family help people are seen to have, the less official help they get, so if its the same where you are, could be worth just stepping back initially and seeing what gets put in place for him.

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Hi Cheryl,

Oh dear, not good.

I agree with what everyone else has said and the only thing I can add is that it sounds like you will have to approach his aftercare in a similar way to caring for someone after a stroke. After all it is one side of his body effected.

Perhaps you could research it, 'caring for someone following a stroke' ...just an idea. Hopefully when he is fixed up, either surgically or in casts, perhaps you will be suprised how much he can do.

Good luck......Lynne

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Thanks, everyone...your comments support what I've been thinking. Lynne, I hadn't thought of looking at it like dealing with a stroke survivor...that's a really good idea! (I once had a mini-stroke, following a bad reaction to a contrast dye injection, so I even have a "personal" way of seeing it.)

The sad thing is that he actually had been dieting and starting to lose weight until about a year ago, when his foot started bothering him...then he didn't "start eating more"...he just "started exercising less" and the weight piled back on. It's left him in some pretty bad shape.

The latest word is that they have determined that it's truly "just" the knee cap and it's been put into a rigid brace which will actually allow him to put some limited weight on the leg. They think that the left leg is "just a sprain," although he's very nervous about trying to bear weight on it. The wrist has been fully cast (hand to just above the elbow), and the shoulder is still being x-rayed from various angles...the orthopod is not quite sure about what to do with the shoulder, but he's leaning more and more toward just being able to immobilize it with a sling. He's had a consultation with a physical therapist (who has been briefed on the challenges at home), but they've not started actually working with him yet. It looks like he may be spending one more night in the hospital at this point.

Wow...astonishing how quickly life can change, isn't it? But yes, Tammie, I'm still planning on being at the conference!

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Hi Cheryl,try to get an office chair with arm pit(in order to achieve lateral stabilization of the upper body)and the common small wheels.The office chair permits him,while sitting,to move in all directions using only his left foot to give the impulse.The dimension of an office chair passes all doors including the smaller entry to a bathroom.For the rest,I only suggest that he tries what he can;he knows better what hurts and what is more comfortable.Don't help too much,it's more dangerous for you and for him.I,as a LAK and LAE amp,never had greater difficulties in doing things,but I also never had injuries on the counterside and furthermore I am living alone with my wife in a 2.650 squarefoot bungalow,which gives me s

sufficient space to move even with a wheelchair.

Joachim

LAK+LAE

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Thanks for the tips, Joachim...he does have an office chair, and he also is storing an old (oversized) wheelchair of mine.

I think that the medical establishment is beginning to understand the problems in sending him home too soon...he's still in the hospital, "at least" through tomorrow, and they're now planning on sending him to a rehab facility for a bit after he's OKed for hospital discharge. That is a tremendous relief to me, and to my sister...not entirely sure how long bro-in-law will be willing to stick with it (he really does not like being confined) but at the moment he thinks it's a good idea. The rehab facility is also much closer to home than the hospital is, which should make visits a lot easier. (Due to a whole bunch of circumstances, he's in a hospital that's nearly 50 miles away.)

I think that, once everyone settles down and realizes that matters are beginning to improve, we'll be OK. Sis is still verging on hysteria...she gets so stressed-out when a crisis occurs...but hopefully we'll get him back up and at 'em eventually! He's just in so much pain at this point...and so "dopey" from the pain meds...that it's hard to see.

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It's good that they realise that there may be problems and that they will consider his home situation before discharging him. As has been posted take care of yourself, it may be tempting to try and help him in a way that is not safe for you but your safety is paramount. Keep us posted how he is doing.

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5/28/2011

Hi Cheryl,

Perhaps a "Visiting Nurse" type program can offer their thoughts once they have seen your brother-in-laws home. A PT / Rehap. person is usually part of their staffing.

I am just about recovered from a right shoulder rotator cuff repair surgery that happened just 4 1/2 months after my right leg disarticulation work. And I'm also right handed so I can well relate to his problems ahead.

A few tricks that really helped me was renting a hospital bed with a trapeze attachment. A 2-inch memory foam mattress pad made the bed pretty comfortable. Our bathroom is also really small so we removed the door and put up a shower curtain in its place. This enabled me to get my wheelchair into the room and still allowed privacy. My boys grumble a bit but my cats love the access. Without the door I was also able to have a shower seat that extended out beyond the tub to make taking a shower much easier. The Visiting Nurse office lent my a extended shower chair from their donated equipment supplies.

Lastly I suggest a good dose of humor where ever it can be seen. Laughter won't cure the problems but it can make the recuperation time more tolerable.

Best of luck to your brother-in-law and family.

Jane

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Thanks for the good thoughts, folks...we're still working out details, but sis and BIL are beginning to make some useful contacts.

He's settled into the rehab facility now...and it seems like a good one. He promises that he'll "try" to do whatever the staff asks of him....we'll see how that one goes, but he's faced some pretty serious health issues in the past and has come through OK.

Oh, Jane, how I wish that your suggestions for bathroom revisions would work! I've never, ever seen an "odder" and more inaccessible bathroom than the one they have...even a slender, agile person has to sidle in "sideways" through the doorway and in between the bathtub and sink, and an overhanging shower bench (which I have and would be glad to lend to him) would literally consume all the available floor space! However, renting a bed with a trapeze attachment is an excellent idea...that's what he has in rehab, and he's becoming pretty proficient at using it to reposition himself and get up and down from the bed.

He's been standing for good amounts of time, several times a day, and he can hobble ever-so-slightly on the injured knee, as long as he's wearing the brace to immobilize the knee. And being closer to home, he's been getting lots of visitors, which is keeping his mood "up." He's seeing both Physical therapy and occupational therapy at this point, so they ought to be able to get him "sorted out!"

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Just an update on matters with my bro-in-law............

He's been home for almost two weeks now. Still in the knee brace, wrist cast, and shoulder sling, but he's now able to get himself up and down the front steps and can walk slowly and "stiff-leggedly" around his neighborhood.

He's had problems with a gland in his neck becoming infected/inflamed (likely because of the pressure of the strap from the shoulder sling and/or dehydration), so they have him on antibiotics and have rigged up a way for him to support the arm without the sling when he's laying in bed...between the two, he's feeling better and does not look so much like someone with "mumps on one side."

The BIG news: Yesterday he made his first transfer in and out of his car!!! :biggrin: Granted, he's still riding as a passenger instead of being behind the wheel...but until now they've had to arrange for ambulance transport to get him to and from doctors' appointments, so everyone is thrilled that someone in the family can now drive him where he needs to go, and he's thrilled that sis can get him "out and around" once in a while! (Their "big date" last night was to drive to a local burger joint for dinner.)

Thanks to everyone for all your suggestions and tips...I think we've picked up bits and pieces from everyone, and all of it has been useful! I think he's finally starting to come around nicely!!

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