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A resident's day trip

July 25, 2011
by Kathleen Mears
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When my Mears cousins invited me to a family reunion in 2008 I wanted to go. But it was 70 miles away from the nursing home and I had not traveled that far since I moved there. I was concerned about whether I could do it physically. Since I can no longer stand with one person, I would have to hire an aide to go along with me and my driver so that I could be toileted. I wondered if I could travel there, stay most of the day, and then travel back. I knew it would take some planning.

Nurse's aides were all around me but when I tried to hire one to go along with me, management would not allow it because of liability issues. So I found an aide by running an ad in the newspaper. Strangely enough she used to work at the nursing home.

I needed a bedside commode to take along with me so I asked maintenance if they could locate one. The only thing they had was a bariatric bedside commode. It would work but it was large. With the help of resident friend we located a standard commode in a resident's room and were able to switch it out with a bariatric one for the day.

I asked the nurse how I could take liquid medicines with me. She told me the nursing home had no containers but offered some from her husband's veterinary practice. Since she was working reunion morning she offered to pack my meds for me.

Because of the cooperation of the staff I have gone to family reunions from 2008 through 2010. But when I moved to this facility last fall, I wondered if I would be able to go to the 2011 reunion. I now live twice as far away from the location—a three-hour drive one way.

I knew I would need assistance from the staff here for me to get to the reunion. I emailed the administrator and director of nursing months before asking to take a standard-size bedside commode along. I sincerely doubted whether one would be available. But I was assured that I would have one.

I made the mistake of thinking that this nursing home would work pretty much like the other regarding taking medications on a day-long outing. When I asked my nurse about taking meds the day before she said she would have to check. After some phone calls she said I could take everything but my liquid medicines—since there were no containers to put them in.

I got up at 3 a.m. for my bowel regimen and I was showered and dressed afterward. My local caregiver came in at 6:15 a.m. to feed me breakfast. Even though I had to wait for breakfast, I was finished by 7 a.m. I wanted to leave at 8 a.m. and it seemed we were on schedule.

While I was in the bathroom a housekeeper gave my caregiver the bedside commode. When I got to the front door she was still outside so I asked to go out also. I saw her trying to fit a bariatric bedside commode in the front seat of my minivan. I told her that would not work and went back inside.

I was upset and aggravated and thought there had been a mix-up. But I discovered that was the only commode that was available. I called my other driver and asked him if he could purchase a bedside commode for me. He called a few minutes later to say that he was picking one up. But I decided to take a bariatric one along just in case.

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I am so glad that you were able to make it to a family event like you had in previous years. No one has any idea all that us quadriplegics have to go through just to get from point A to point B.

I am not in an institution but because of my health issues over the last two years I have not been able to go on a day trip in over two years.

You made it work and you were very fortunate! Everything worked out in the end. I'm sure you're exhausted, to say the least, but you made it!

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

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