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I want to keep standing

July 18, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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A few weeks ago I learned this facility is instituting a "No Lift Policy”. That means that residents who cannot bear weight consistently will need to use machine assistance to stand. Really, that has been the policy here for many years. But management is going to be more stringent because of the number of workers’ compensation injuries that have occurred recently.

I can understand that management does not want their aides to be injured. They probably also want their workers’ compensation rate to go down as well. But when I was told about the no lift policy, I felt threatened.

During my 14-plus years here I have been able to stand with the assistance of two aides. I have worked very hard to maintain that ability. The past year of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation for breast cancer has given me quite a challenge. My legs have felt tired and sometimes they ache when I stand. They do not do it all the time but it is more pronounced later in the day.

I have been getting therapy twice a week for three weeks. My goal was to stand and to build up tolerance. I did pretty well at my first two sessions. Then the therapists asked me if I would stand in the sit-to-stand machine. We have had the machine for awhile and I always wondered how it worked. The aides had said it would not work that well for me since I am not able to hold onto it.

When the therapists wanted to use it on me, I fell rather strange. I think I stand well enough that I do not need machinery to help me. But I realized that there was no way I could fall using the sit-to-stand machine. As they buckled the apparatus around me, I was surprised at how it worked. There was no sound as it assisted me to rise. I put weight forward and on my legs at the same time, but there was no difference in the machine's action. Once I got to a standing position I tried to hold on to the bar in front of me. I could do pretty well with my left hand, which has more function. However, a therapy student had to help hold my right hand on the bar.

I stood for a while straightening my legs. When I wanted to bend my knees to stretch my hip and thigh muscles, they had to lower me just a little. Then I bent and straightened my knees quite easily. That kept me busy and I managed to stand for 10 minutes. I do not know when I last stood that long.

After a rest the machine stood me again. This time I was more tired and my legs were trembling. I stood though to see how much strength there was in me. The therapist kept straightening me and pulling my weight to my right side. Every time she did I felt that I would fall. When she raised my head up and held on to it, my inner ear went nuts and so did my equilibrium. I felt like I was flying or floating.

I decided I would use the machine to strengthen my leg muscles. But I wondered if the facility's plan was for me to use the sit-to-stand for all transfers. That concerned me because I would rather stand on my own as long as I can. I already wear braces to keep my ankles from turning so I can stand more easily.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...