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My New Year Wish

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

An Extra Set of Hands

It is that time of year when many make New Year’s resolutions or think of changes they would like to make in the coming year. My current wish has its roots from Christmas day 2019. In the process of researching gifts as part of our families secret Santa tradition, I found a short-sleeved shirt on sale that I purchased for myself. It was a brand known for their athletic cut, which should have been my first clue. My body lost its athletic cut years ago. It was a few months before I wore it for the first time as I waited for the weather to turn warmer. The second day I had it on, my wife noticed evidence of a pressure ulcer on my back, the result of an hours long, unresolved wrinkle in my shirt.

The finding both angered and depressed me because I knew what it meant. Ongoing trips to the wound care doctor and the need to be turned on a regular basis. That was in April 2020. At first, I thought I could bypass the second requirement because I have an alternating pressure mattress that (I hoped) would negate the need for turning. Besides, we only utilize home health three days per week, and could not afford to have them come in multiple times per day to help me turn. It was the first pressure ulcer on the back side of my body in 12 years. The first took well over a year to heal, and that happened only with the help of a wound vac. After a month or two had passed, the wound was not healing like it should, and the doc told me the only solution was to start turning every 2-3 hours. I could not sleep that night, trying to figure out how we were going to turn with only my wife to help me. Since I am a C4 quad, I would be of no help. The only help we had was a portable Hoyer lift, but how would that work? I mentally tossed and turned, trying to come up with a solution. Then it hit me.

What if we purchased a construction sling, the type used to hoist pallets on a construction site? I envisioned rolling the draw sheet around the sling, then connecting each end of the sling to the hoist bar of the lift. The next morning, I shared the idea with my wife, who didn’t think much of it. Nevertheless, I had her measure for the length of a sling that we would need and ordered it online. When it came, we gave it its first try but found the sling was too long. Even by folding the sling in half it was still too long. Undeterred, I ordered a second sling, and this one did the trick. That began a process of rolling on my side on a regular schedule, both day and night. I found I could even continue working on my computer while on my side by rotating the screen 90°. (Control-alt-right) My wife traded her skepticism for an understandable disdain for having to get up at night. Instantly, we began to see positive results with the pressure ulcer. By August, the wound care doc thought we could stop turning. In retrospect, that was a mistake. Pressure ulcers once incurred, never really go away. They simply lurk in the background, waiting for the chance to create havoc once again, and that is what happened in July of this year. So, for the last six months, I have been turning three times a day, although we are skipping the night turns. Once again slow but steady progress is being made, leading to my 2022 New Year’s wish, a simple one. I wish my pressure sore was no more. Happy New Year!

Best Of series articles are those that showcase a product or place that is exceptional for those in the spinal cord community. Do you know of a product, or have you been to a place (restaurant, doctor’s office etc.) that has made your life much easier or better? Share it with us

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