Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Sitting Still

I've been busy this morning already, booking medical appointments. I want to see my own doctor before I go to Mexico, and I need to get into the bladder clinic soon. So I made the calls. Next thing on my list is a call to our hotel in Mexico to attempt to gain some form of certainty around getting a wheelchair accessible room.

All of this activity is after a really bad night last night. I wanted to try an experiment. I wanted to see if I could still transfer onto the toilet from my manual chair, get my pants off, use the toilet, and then use my small transfer board to get back on my wheelchair. I wanted to try this on my own, without help, to see what I could accomplish and to see where I would need help. All of this is in preparation for our trip to Mexico, so I can feel confident in almost any situation if need be. This was not a success or failure experiment as much as it was a qualitative test of what might happen.

First of all, I can get onto the toilet fairly easily, especially with the small transfer board. That took only a moment or two. The second step, getting my jeans off, was significantly more problematic. It took well near an hour of wiggling and rocking sideways to effect the needed disrobing. Unfortunately my bowels did what they like to do when I am sitting on the toilet with my butt cheeks spread open. So I got dirty, messy. So did my jeans, my underwear, a couple of washcloths, and at least one towel. They are in the sink, soaking. I will be doing laundry today.

I did, however, finish the use of the toilet, including using the spray function to clean myself up. While the process of getting my pants off was exhausting, I actually used the toilet as intended. This is a good thing. Now I know that if I can get some help with pants and underwear, I can likely use a normal toilet at our hotel in Mexico. All I have to do is find a volunteer to pull my pants down. It could happen.

Getting off of the toilet was far more difficult than I remember, far too difficult for me to do on a daily basis without assistance. It only took about 30 minutes to effect the transfer, but it was really tough on my arms, and scary as hell. I ended up not being able to get the transfer board out from underneath me, so I left if there and cleaned up the mess, another 30 minute task including rinsing soiled clothing and linens as well as mopping up the floor.

So here is what I know. If we get a non-handicapped room in Mexico, but one where the bathroom door is wide enough for a commode chair and the toilet is well placed, I am good to go regardless. If I am compelled by the shape and logistics of the bathroom to use the toilet like a normal person, I need help with pants and the transfer back to my wheelchair. And no matter what the situation, there will be soiled washcloths.

On the other hand, even with a wheelchair bathroom, I am still going to want a commode chair and, if possible, a home care assistant there in the hotel. The only real advantage of the wheelchair bathroom will be safety bars and, with any luck, a handicapped height toilet. Oh, and a roll-in shower. I know this works; David and I did this for three weeks, with only a few accidents.

I'm just seeing how it might work. It's messy. I don't recommend this process. But, at a minimum, I can still sit on a toilet.

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