Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Commode Chair Disaster, Almost

It could have been a disaster, a catastrophe where I ended up on the floor, injured, unable to move; a catastrophe which, if I was fortunate, would have meant time recovering from injury, likely a period of hospitalization. All because of a little button on my commode chair wheel. It had been accidentally pushed in, and the commode chair wheel fell of. Fortunately I noticed it before it made its final departure from the chair itself, and thus saved myself.

I am not sure how that button got pushed. There are a thousand possibilities. That button is the release button for the wheel, called a quick release. When pushed intentionally, you can pull the wheel of immediately, an action very useful for packing and transporting a wheelchair, or commode chair. Almost all decent wheelchairs have this button.

The commode chair, however, has a less expensive version of this button than my manual chair. With my manual chair, the button is large and set flush with the center of the wheel hub. It's also designed so that if you push it, it does not release the wheel immediately; you have to both push the button and push the wheel to get it off. This means you can sit in the chair and push that button all day, and nothing will happen. The wheel will stay in place.

With the commode chair, the button, also set in the center of the wheel hub, is a less secure action. When you push it, particularly if nobody is in the chair, it will release the wheel immediately, without pulling hard on the hub. So what I think happen is that someone accidentally hit that button while moving the commode chair. It was most likely me, or it could have been anyone else in my apartment over the last few days. The chair was good on Monday morning, but David and I moved a bunch of stuff on Monday afternoon and I was yarding that commode chair out of the way with a pretty firm fling. What happened at that moment is the wheel was released, but not enough to come off.

Move forward to this morning. Without knowing that the wheel was loose, and it didn't look like it, I transferred into my commode chair. By the time I got into the bathroom, I noticed the wobble in the wheel. By the time I got positioned over the toilet and had locked the wheels, I could see the exposed axle shaft and the wide gap between the wheel and the chair. I knew it could come off at any moment. After my toilet time I called my HCA; this is precisely why they are here when I shower, for these kinds of situations or emergencies.

I very tenuously and carefully wheeled myself the few inches towards the shower and immediately put down the shower bench. While Michael held the commode chair steady, I made the transfer to the shower bench. He went to roll the chair, loose wheel and all, to the living room where I could fix it. He was no sooner out of the bathroom when that wheel came off completely and the chair fell over.

There but for the grace of God was I. I an easily imagine what might have happened had I not been away of the loose wheel. I can imagine myself falling sideways in the shower or in the bathroom, my body smashing to the floor with all my weight, my weak arms and useless legs almost completely unable to prevent or protect. I would have taken quite the beating. I might have been seriously hurt.

Fortunately I was not hurt. Fortunately I noticed the change in the way my commode what was rolling. Fortunately I had the HCA there, and I have the HCA there, when I take my shower. But there are times, many times, when I am home alone and use that chair. I plan on being more diligent when getting into it, checking more often to make sure it's all in one piece. I don't need this kind of trouble.

1 comment:

  1. By the way, someone has already suggested I get a Life Alert Button. You know, the ones where that 90 year old lady calls and says "I've fallen and I can't get up."