Monday, July 20, 2009

So Far, So Great!

Photos: first - view from our vacation house down to the nearby lake. Next 3 are from the dock - straight across the water, to the left towards the public landing and down to the right. The last - a cold beer enjoyed on the dock.

We're here in Maine on vacation. It's been great!

We got here in the early evening on Saturday. Arrived with a car that could not have held one more item. Every square inch of space was filled. I even had to put Skip and the dogs in before everything was loaded, since I had to jam quite a few things around the wheelchair to get the last bits in. (I did get cranky twice during packing/loading. Once, inevitably, during the show discussion. Second, when I became overwhelmed, realizing that the sheer amount of stuff we had wasn't going to fit in the car [this before the strategy of packing stuff around Skip like a sardine was identified].)

We're the first party to rent this house since it was built. They've got most of the accessibility mods right, but with a few significant misses. The major miss is the bed - it's very high, much higher than normal by, I'd guess, 6 inches. It's so high the patient lifter cannot get Skip's butt up to the level of the bed to transfer her in.

The first night we were here, we went off to bed about 10. I was pooped. It had been a long day packing, loading the car, driving 3 hours, unloading (tho with help at the vacation house) and so forth. I knew the patient lifter wouldn't work for the bed, so had Skip drive her wheelchair beside the bed, planning to use the trusty "pick and plop" method, knowing it would be more awkward than usual because of the extra bed height. This is when I discovered that the old vacation methods were no longer possible with Skip's increased disability. Her legs aren't capable of providing any sort of support at all and I'm also out of practice in these kinds of transfers, since we have a lift system at home.

Fortunately, a couple of our friends were very willing to help out and got Skip up and into bed in short order. I was thrilled we'd been able to manage the transfer. Unfortunately, needing help from our friends was embarassing for Skip. I wish it was easier for her to accept the help of friends in situations where it's such a wonderful gift.

That night, as I lay in bed, I thought about how the transfers would play out for Skip during vacation. Bed to wheelchair in the a.m. I could handle as a pick and plop. Once I got her feet on the ground, it would be easy to do a quick transfer to the chair. Then, wheelchair/toilet/shower chair could all be managed by the patient lifter. At bedtime, we'd depend upon friends, but the patient lifter could get Skip almost high enough to transfer onto the bed and the final lift could be handled more easily by a group of us without the wheelchair as an impediment. I also had brought a gait belt, so we used that for the bedtime transfer on the second night to help pull her higher on the bed once transferred.

This is all the kind of stuff I expected we'd have to figure out once we got here, and it's been working out pretty well from my perspective.

The weather has been absolutely spectacular both Sunday and today, so we've taken advantage of that with time down at the dock. The path to get there is both great accessibility-wise and a big miss. Part of the path is slate stones placed on top of small crushed stones, but the slate is not flush with the smaller stones. Skip's chair foundered in the small crushed stones and broke the slate. We pulled the slate off to the side and Skip stayed in the grass along the side of the path as far as she could, so only has a short distance in the treacherous crushed stone. The remainder of the path works well. It's a nice boardwalk. Where it's inclined, the board is covered with tar paper.

Today, in particular, was especially great at the dock. Sunny, warm but not hot, low humidity. The 6 humans and 8 dogs (yes, 8, including 4 labs!) staying here all came down. The water was lovely, not too cold, and around 5 feet deep around the dock. Some folks went out in floats. I swam a bit, taking the pups on a ride on one of the floats. After a bit of swimming, we had lunch and lazed.

The sun and warmth caused Skip to get a bit weak both afternoons. In the late afternoon both yesterday and today, she's taken a nap in our room. With her wheelchair's tilt and recline functionality, she's able to stretch out fairly flat for a comfortable snoozing position. She doesn't normally nap in the afternoons, but it's working well here. She can allow herself to get a bit pooped in the afternoon and recover for the evening's dinner and visiting.

Skip really, really, really wants to get in the water and swim with the pups. This can't happen off the dock as there's no way to get her in or out of the water (the able-bodied are using a ladder off the dock). It looks like the public boat landing right near us will provide a spot to get her into the water. I'm thinking if we wheel her manual wheelchair down to the water, and even into the water a bit, 4 of us can each take one limb and get her into the shallow water. She wants to be immersed in the cooling water, get a view into the water with mask and snorkel and spend a bit of time with the pups on a float beside her. It should be quiet enough mid-week at the landing to keep us from having a lot of competition from boats.

It's been wonderfully relaxing here. The food is great. The company is even better. We are very, very lucky!


Lisa Emrich said...

It sounds lovely. Good job thinking of how to get into the too-tall bed. Enjoy the vacation.

steve said...

Thanks for the pictures. I just took a little vacation in my head.

BR and I call ourselves the Clampett's whenever we roadtrip. We keep trying to think of ways to mount his chair on the minivan roof, a la Granny, to make room for more stuff. As it is, there is a loading order, and he must be loaded right after the hospital bed, but before the mattress and shower chair.

Maybe you should consider a rental trailer? I'm sure Skip has a couple pairs of shoes she regrets leaving behind.

Now hold on a minute. Put that stiletto down ...

barrie said...

How brave of Skip to want to get in the water :-)

I am thrilled you are having such a lovely time!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Cranky stayed at home for this vacation! Way to go gf, good job. Have a blast and I so want to go in the water with you guys!! Please give hugs to the rest of the gang for us, including pups. What a sight that must be. We miss you all!

Hey Skip, say hi to the fishes when they cast you in.

Herrad said...

Hi Cranky,

What a lovely surprise to see your post.

Great photos and a good post.

Have an excellenit time.

Cranky said...

Greetings all! Thanks for your notes. Today we're planning mostly inside activities as rain is projected for this afternoon. Very, very relaxing.

awb said...

Fan-Damn-Tastic! What a beautiful view in those pictures, I'm with Steve, trying to put myself there. Have a blast, and you'll figure out how to get Skip in for a swim.