Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Commode Chair Failure

Well, my new commode chair was a disaster today; not quite an unmitigated disaster, but a disaster nonetheless. It was supposed to make things easier for me, supposed to reduce the number of transfers I had to make. I did none of that; it just made things more difficult.

Yesterday, Alan from the ALS Society came over and adjusted the commode chair so it would fit over the toilet. It did. We checked, sort of. We didn't actually run through a test utilization of the chair, one that would have required me to get undressed and actually use the toilet. Instead we did a positioning check, and eyeball look at things. It fit, so the real test was to be this morning.

It all started out looking good. The transfer from my bed to the commode chair went fairly well, until I got halfway and my right leg, the first one in the transfer, slid into the butt hole in the middle of the chair. I kind of got stuck trying to move it out, but Michael was there to help. Lesson learned. I have to be careful in the transfer.

Then came the roll into the bathroom. Before I go too much further, it's important to know that the wheels on the commode chair are solid plastic, not flexible rubber. So they don't flex and flow with the bumps on the floor. Also, the chair is set higher so as to go over the elevated handicapped toilet that I have in my bathroom. This means I don't get a good grip on the wheels, and they tend to slip very easily. Then there is the slope, a very slight slope, up into my bathroom.

I can make the slope in my regular wheelchair and PWC with no difficulty at all. However the raised seat on the commode chair also raises my centre of gravity, so when I hit the slope at the door, I started to feel like I was tipping over backwards almost immediately. Then, as the front casters on the wheelchair hit the top lip of the slope, they failed to rise to the challenge. The chair stopped.

There I was, leaning over backwards with a high centre of gravity, stopped by a door lip I'd never even noticed before. I tried edging forward. This is when I discovered that the hard, plastic tires on the commode chair have absolutely no grip on my laminate floor. They simply spun when I tried to roll forwards.

At this point I called Michael, my Home Care Aide, to help me get into the bathroom. He tried pushing forward but the lip still held back, and I felt like his pushing would tip me forward, out of the chair. So we changed tack; he pulled me into the bathroom instead. I thought I should try this myself, so I went out and came at it in reverse. Sure enough I could get there, but it was very difficult, and risky.

Once in the bathroom I found that I could, sure enough, get the chair over the toilet. However I also found that the non-stick tires of the commode chair moved with every movement I made. This made getting my underwear off a challenge, and made positioning a multi-stage event. It finally all came together, and I relaxed and began what needed to be done.

This is when I discovered that the position of the commode chair accommodated rear action, but not front action. As I sat there, restfully enjoying the release of my bladder, I heard a splatter. I looked down to see a stream of urine going through the commode chair, bouncing off of the front of the toilet seat, and making a large, yellow puddle on my bathroom floor. Unfortunately at this point there was little I could do. I grabbed for my jug, and dropped it in the excitement. The puddle got bigger. I gave up, tossed down some readily available paper towels, and called Micheal for help.

Michael cleaned up the mess. Then I tried to complete the task at hand. Unfortunately by this time my colon was sufficiently frightened that it closed up tighter than a Mennonite's wallet. There would be no poo today. That's when I realized that if I could not use the commode chair for the toilet, there was really no use in trying it for the shower. Using a regular chair for the toilet, with the required transfer, then using the commode chair for the shower, with another two required transfers, simply increased the work of my morning instead of lessening it.

I rolled back into the bedroom, transferred to the bed, then transferred back onto my regular chair. I was beat. Nonetheless the bathroom called to me, so off I went. I tried to transfer from my regular chair to the toilet. Only this time I was bare-assed naked. I had no cloth between me and the toilet seat to ease the slide. Instead my bare skin grabbed onto the toilet seat, the surface tension clamping like it was a magnet, a very powerful electro-magnet.

Instead of me sliding onto the toilet seat, the toilet seat almost immediately popped its couplings and rotated in the direction of my slide. I ended up at about 30 degrees off centre, the seat beneath my rear, but the hole to the bowl of the toilet well south of the intended target. Try as I might, I was unable to reasonably re-position while seated on board. So back into my wheelchair, my colon still refusing to release, only this time I was grateful. Instead I went directly into my shower, after which I got dressed and did exercises with my HCA.

Here I am now, sitting at the table, wondering when my cowering colon will recover sufficiently to allow me to do what I know I will need to do. I am also wondering if things will happen slowly, giving me time to do my part, or if there will be a repeat of Friday's debacle. Either way, something's gotta give. Ah the joys and excitement of my deteriorating life with ALS.


  1. Let's hear from the creationists again about Intelligent Design... oh yeah, and how we're created in God's image. Really? He puts up with this shit too? (pun intended)

  2. Ruh-roh!! I was about to buy one of these things! A lot more to think about than I thought. It costs about 1600 dollars and is "no return"....but gosh, sure don't know what else I'll do....Thanks for info....And good luck!

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  4. How about this: Would removing the cushion from the PWC and replacing it with a towel make the transfer from the PWC to the toilet the same elevation? Of course you'd have to transfer back onto the cushionless PWC and back to your bed, but then you could put the cushion back on at that point.

    My PWC, with cushion, is slightly higher than the toilet, like by an inch. The transfer to and from the toilet is pretty straight forward, though I do have my Assistant help with the slide and disrobing/dressing part.