In 1968, Tammy Wynette released a song entitled, Stand by Your Man. Some of the lyrics in the song talk about doing things that you don’t understand, but loving him even though he’s hard to understand. That song recently became my personal anthem.
I have heard it said that if necessity is the mother of invention, then desperation is the father of brilliance. Not that I could ever be considered for anything described as brilliant. I did have a recent out-of-the-box thought however that was definitely born out of a problem approaching desperation. That problem was a pressure ulcer on my back.
The term pressure ulcer is such an insipid one. In no way do those two words capture the hassle, cost and terror they unleash in the minds of someone with a spinal cord injury. My first (and worst) encounter with a pressure ulcer came about six months after my initial injury, 12 years ago. My wheelchair utilized a Roho cushion, and we were instructed that the proper position for these cushions was with the valve toward the front. That was great, except for when the straps of the sling for your Hoyer Lift caught it and ripped it. That was a $500 mistake that we had to learn twice before learning to ignore the instructions for proper positioning. (By turning the cushion 180° so the valve was to the rear) Lacking a spare Roho cushion, we simply used the nice leather seat that originally came with the wheelchair. Eight hours later ~Walla! That eight hours caused a problem that took nearly a year to heal, eventually leading to a wound VAC and other pleasantries. I have had a few others since, but none of major consequence. We have come to pride ourselves on our work in this area.
This one started innocently enough. I received a shirt for Christmas as part of our family’s secret Santa exchange. Although the shirt was a little tight, that was no reason for concern. One day however, it must have bunched up on my back while I was lying in bed, and Walla! After my second appointment with the wound care clinic, they strongly urged that I be turned every two hours. As there are only my wife and I living at home, we had no idea how we would accomplish this. Hiring someone to help was not economically feasible, and we were feeling a bit desperate. During one of the ensuing nights when I could not sleep, I decided to work on the problem in earnest. The thought of using our Hoyer Lift came to mind, but how exactly. Then I came upon an idea of using some type of strap with loops on each end, which you could roll up in the draw sheet, connecting the loops to your lift. Convinced my plan would work if I could find the right type of strap, I was excited to share my thoughts the next day with my family. They have always been loving and supportive, but this time – not so much. Perhaps it was the way I explained it, I reasoned, as my idea was greeted with feedback such as, “What,” “Are you nuts,” “That will never work.” Undeterred, I believed I just needed to find the right type of strap online and show it to them. Then they would be convinced. They weren’t. Their disbelief was accompanied by more of the type of feedback I had received earlier. Still convinced, I decided to order a strap after my dubious wife helped take measurements for a scheme I’m sure she didn’t totally understand. The strap arrived two days later – and proved to be way too long. Measure once, order twice as they say. The next strap was still too long, and now my investors were making noises about wanting a return on their investment. This precipitated yet another brilliant idea. Fold the original strap in half. That idea came close to not even passing the sanity test, but we decided to give it a try anyway. Walla, it worked! While not as good as having a second person help turn you, for the past 10 days it has successfully served as a second pair of hands, helping turn me five times a day to relieve the pressure on my back.
I think I will write Tammy Wynette, and give her an idea for what surely will be another #1 hit on CMT’s Top 100. It’s called, Stand by Your Plan!
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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