Category Archives: Surgery

Simple (and Temporary) Home Modifications

Last August my Mom underwent a double knee replacement. After spending several days in the hospital and nearly a week in a rehabilitation facility, she was released to come home. While I was excited that she was checking out of the rehab, after all leaving the facility equated to progress, I was also scared. She lives alone and although I was planning on staying with her for a few days, I was concerned that it was too soon in her recovery for her to be by herself.

The night before my Mom was released I was frantic. Armed with a list of suggested home modifications, I felt overwhelmed with an inordinate amount of pressure to make the transition as safe as possible. Knowing that time was limited, I began to tackle the list.

I removed all throw rugs from the home, including the kitchen and bathroom. I know from experience that the decorative little carpets quickly become tangled under crutches, wheelchairs and walkers. The last thing I wanted was for my Mom to get tripped up and fall. The floors looked bare, but they were safer without the rugs.

Against her wishes I purchased and installed an elevated toilet seat. I knew that she underestimated her abilities to stand without support and the last thing she needed was the humiliation of becoming stuck on the commode. The elevated toilet seat was necessary at the time but was easy to remove and stow once she regained her strength.

Removable grab bars were placed in several locations around her bathtub. I’ve written about these marvelous little inventions before because they have been so helpful to my regaining my independence.  My Mom has come to rely upon the security afforded by the grab bars, and I know that they are strong enough to maintain suction.

As my Mom began to heal and master her new knees her home slowly began to revert. Throw rugs have been put back on the floors, although they now have rubber backs to thwart slipping. The elevated toilet seat is on a shelf in her garage, and her walker is folded under her bed. The recovery was lengthy and difficult, but because of a lot of hard work, time and the right tools she has regained her mobility.

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

The Multi-Use Grabber!

Although we tried to anticipate all of the needs that might arise after my Mom’s double knee replacement, in retrospect we were woefully unprepared for her recovery. While she spent a week in the rehabilitation hospital working on regaining strength, I spent my days running around trying get her home ready for her return. The therapists taught her how to use a variety of tools, but unfortunately they failed to provide us with information about where they could be purchased. (If I had known about UNlimiters I would have been spared a lot of stress, as well been able to save the gas and the time I spent driving around town trying to find everything!)

One of the tools that my Mom relied heavily upon was the grabber. Because she had difficulty moving anything below her waist, this apparatus became her lifeline to independence both at the rehab and at home. She quickly mastered picking up everything from the television remote to lifting up her covers while she was in bed. If it was within grabber reach, she didn’t need to call for assistance to obtain it.

It has been a year since her knee replacements, and while many of her adapted aids are stowed away, the grabber is still in use. She no longer requires the assistance for basic reaching but has found it invaluable for tidying around the house and yard. I had to chuckle the first time I drove up and saw my Mom in her yard picking up sticks with the grabber. What a strikingly different use for this tool compared to her initial introduction in therapy. She now habitually uses it  because it allows her to stay upright, keeping her from bending and contorting during yard work. Anything that she can do to save straining her back and knees is worthwhile!

My little boy loved using his Nana’s grabber so much that we bought him one of his own. He loves using his grabber when it is time to clean up his toys, a task which used to result in endless laments and avoidance. It certainly takes him a long time to pick up his Legos block by block using the grabber, but he is happy and busy during what used to be a dreaded chore. I’m now at the juncture where I don’t care if it takes him an hour to pick up his toys as long as he isn’t complaining and my request is being followed.

I suspect that the grabber will be hanging prominently in both of our houses for a long time, although we both have different uses. My Mom uses it to simply her work and save straining her back. My son uses it because it has become a fun way to complete his chores. For me, it is a win-win situation!

Lessons From Knee Replacements

I endured more than 20 surgeries in a quest to save my foot. Each time I was wheeled into the operating room my Mom patiently waited, and worried, in the waiting room. She became experienced in her role, eventually bringing a bag snacks, light magazines and a sweater.

Last year my Mom underwent a double knee replacement, and our roles were switched. Instead of being the patient, this time I was the one nervously waiting for word from the doctors about her status. Until I was put in her position, I never fully appreciated the anguish my Mom must have experienced each time I was wheeled away.

When the surgical pain waned, I entered my Mom’s recovery phase with a sense of confidence. After all, I am accustomed to living life with compromised mobility, so I assumed that many of my tricks would easily transfer. I could not have been more wrong, and we were woefully unprepared.

For six weeks my Mom had little to no strength in either of her legs. During her stay at the inpatient rehabilitation hospital her physical therapist taught her how to use a leg lifter, which is a wonderfully simply little contraption. She proudly showed me how it worked, and delighted in the fact that she didn’t need to ring the nurses bell each time she wanted to move. For the first time since she entered rehab, my Mom experienced a glimmer of independence.

Unfortunately the Physical Therapist remembered that he left the leg lifter in her room, and came to retrieve his contraption. We were told that we would need to buy one if she wanted to use it outside the therapy room. I remember frantically begging the volunteer at the rehab hospital to open up the gift shop so that I could buy the coveted, and needed, leg lifter.

Had we been a little more informed about her post-operative recovery, and had I known about UNlimiters, I would have had the leg lifter in hand before her surgery. Being prepared with the proper devices would have saved us all  lot of frustration, enabling her to simply concentrate on her rehabilitation. Instead we were relegated to figuring it out on the fly.

Until she regained strength in her legs, a process that took months, we had to make a lot of accommodations to her home. With so many people undergoing knee replacements each year, it should not have been difficult finding contemporary information about the recovery! In an attempt to pay it forward, I am dedicating my next few blogs to tips and devices that helped my Mom during her recovery from her double knee replacements.

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