Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Traveling with no leg to stand on. Success is a matter of inches

shower boots (picture #1 )
Portable commode chair adapter( picture #2 )

My wife is now about 7 years post bilateral below the knee amputations due to septic shock. Her problem is further complicated by having bilateral knee replacements for over 25 years. Seeding of her damaged joints with bacteria from dental procedures may have been the cause of the bacterial sepsis. I bring this up primarily as a reminder to anyone with joint replacements to take antibiotics before and after any dental procedure regardless of how long the replacement has been in place. My wife had her knee replacements over 20 years before she developed sepsis. I would also discuss the idea of taking the antibiotics for 8 to 10 days after any dental procedure if you have joint replacements . Antibiotic use in this situation is still controversial , so be prepared to argue your case.
Thanks to our wonderful medical community my wife has fully recovered and can now walk without canes in the house. She also walks 1 to 2 miles out side almost daily . We have modified our home so that she can deal with the activities of daily living comfortable. Travel and visiting relatives requires a little more equipment and time. We have stayed in about 15 different hotels and motels in the last few years and have learned a few things that may help you or a friend.

#1 Handicapped rooms does not mean that the room is equipped for someone with bilateral amputations. Many handicap equipped rooms may just have a bar by the commode ( similar to the above picture ) or in the shower and nothing else . I have not been in a room yet that would accommodate a wheelchair and slide board. I have also visited a number of new assisted living and home for older people that would also be of no use to someone in a wheel chair. The solution is simple. There has to be enough room for a wheel chair to pull up beside a commode or bed. See the pictures below.

# 2 commodes, chairs and beds all have different heights . These differing heights create real problems . One to two inches in height can make the difference in getting off of a commode or bed without help. Higher is better . Getting to a bathroom in the middle of the night without a wheel chair and slide board necessitates putting on both legs then being able to stand up in order to lock the legs in place and walking to the bathroom usually with a walker. Low beds make it almost impossible to stand up without help. We have noticed that older hotels and motels have lower beds and commodes.

I now ask to see handicap equipped rooms before renting and avoid rooms with low commodes or low beds .

#3 Taking a bath or shower in hotel rooms is difficult . We have resolved this problem by using thigh high rubber covers for her prothesis and legs. See the pictures #1 above. These covers work but do require two people to put them on .

#4 commode height can be managed with the portable seat seen above in picture # 2

#5 bed height is still a problem. I believe this problem could be overcome with an inflatable cushion similar to the inflatable mattresses .We are still looking for one that works.

The equipment listed above has made automobile travel much easier for my wife and me. We had fun and enjoyed every day of our last trip . I hope this information will be of use to you or a friend with bilateral lower leg amputations. Dr. Calder

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Your comments and questions are appreciated. David Calder,MD