broke out was discharged from the rehabilitation hospital thirty days after fracturing my femur. While I am excited to be home, I would have appreciated a smoother transition. To help me explain, let me describe a bit of the past two weeks before I talk about the events of the past twenty-four hours.
I am still non-weightbearing on my left leg (the one with the fracture) for at least three more weeks. And the soft-tissue damage to my right knee means it is still not strong enough to hold my weight. Prior to “the fall” I was a stand-pivot transfer, meaning I was able to bear weight on my legs as my Personal Assistants (PAs) lifted me from one surface to another. During rehabilitation, my Occupational Therapist (OT) and Physical Therapist (PT) worked with me on transferring in and out of my wheelchair. This was my primary goal, as I needed to complete this task with the assistance of only one person in order to go home.
Thanks to a slide board called the Beasy Glider and trial and error with my PT, I am able to safely transfer without putting any weight on my injured leg. However, using a slide board creates other complications for transfers. In order to go to the bathroom, I now need to use a different commode than the one I had been using at home. After trying several models, my OT and I discovered I would need a bariatric drop-arm bedside commode. Specifically, I needed the Convaquip Bariatric Bedside Droparm Commode. The removable arm makes it possible for me to easily slide on. Because the commode is built for someone with girth, there is a platform next to the toilet seat. This platform gives me space to shimmy and maneuver as I pull my pants up and down. *Note: I am not being paid to endorse these products. I am just happy to find something that works!
Although these durable medical equipment (DME) products are essential for me to live independently at home, they are not covered by insurance. Insurance will pay thousands of dollars per day for me to live in a nursing home, but they will not pay the $694 for me to purchase these two vital pieces of DME so I can live cheaply in the community (where I can be a tax paying citizen). This ableist policy deserves (and will receive) a lengthy blog post of its own. For now, enjoy this photo of my new commode, which came yesterday after I arrived home, and my transfer board which came this morning. I call this photo “Independence.”
It is important to manage your pain. You can’t let the pain get ahead of you. If I heard these sentences in rehab once, I heard them close to seventy times. I am not able to drive right now. Knowing how important pain management is, I made arrangements for one of my PAs to pick up my pain medications yesterday at the pharmacy.
In the hospital I received two pain medications and the doctor wrote prescriptions for me to continue these at home for a month. One of my medications recently became classified as a generic, a fact I did not discover until I called my pharmacy to ask if my medications were ready. Unfortunately, the doctor did not write “dispense as written” on my prescription, which meant the pharmacy had to use the generic drug to fill the script. I use a large chain pharmacy which has several locations in my immediate area. The only location with the generic in stock is a forty mile round trip drive away from my house. I called other pharmacy chains to see if they carried the generic. Each pharmacy told me no, the drug was too new and they only had the name brand in stock.
After two calls to the rehabilitation hospital last night and two more calls this morning, my pharmacy received a “dispense as written” prescription at noon today. I can now resume my pain regimen, which is good because I have now taken close to my daily limit of acetaminophen. And it is just 2:00 as I write this.
I still have to hire a new PA to replace the one who dropped me in January. If you know anyone who is looking for part-time work near Albany, NY, please send them my way. I have afternoon and evening shifts available. No experience is necessary. I will train the right person. The right person will be dependable, timely, personable and he/she will be able to listen and follow instructions (particularly under crisis situations such as when I might fall).
Even though the transition was not seamless, I am happy to be home. Sleeping in my own bed felt heavenly. This morning’s coffee was delicious. Having my regular PA staff assist me is much less stressful than having to explain my needs to a stranger as I have done repeatedly for thirty days.
I am on the mend. I still have a long way to go, but at least I am home.
Thank you to all who have taken the time to write, call or visit. Ryan Ahlwardt wrote a blog post about heroes which resonated with me today, especially this part:
You don’t have to be a mighty warrior to be a hero, friends.
You don’t have to slay lions to save the day.
Sometimes all you need to do is reach down and pull someone else up.
So many people have reached down to me while I was in my pit of darkness this past month. I am humbled and awed by the love and support offered by friends near and far. You are my heroes and I am grateful.