Monday, May 12, 2008

Dispatches from the front line of home health care

The longish gap between posts has been due to heavy engagements on the front line of health care - our home. Over the last fortnight we've been up and down a dizzying series of ladders and snakes.

To cut a long story short, unfortunately my husband has been diagnosed with a complex cocktail of health problems.

Fortunately, the most urgently needed help was at hand. Since September he's had to wear a breathing mask attached to an oxygen machine at night.

It took us both weeks to get used to the original mask, but we finally managed it. By December he was sleeping all night (and I was too), and he was steadily improving. Great sighs of relief all round.

Unfortunately, wearing the mask also started to cause damage to his nose. He got one injury after another. The latest one got badly infected and chewed a nasty hole in his nose.

Despite silver dressing and careful bandaging, wearing the mask every night was preventing it from healing. A skin graft was needed - and that meant he couldn't wear the old mask at all.

Fortunately, a different kind of mask is available. It's called the Mirage Liberty, and it comes with what Lynn of Tawa would call an instructive little video (or rather DVD).

A handsome young man in the peak of health strolls nonchalantly into his bedroom. He sits down on the bed and slips the elastic blue headgear smoothly over his thick head of hair, as if he's indulging in some kind of horse harness fetish.

Then he expertly fits the mask over his mouth, inserts the nostril thingies, and lies calmly down beside his equally young and healthy wife. Both of them apparently sleep soundly all night until he unharnesses himself in the morning.

Unfortunately, this has turned out to bear no resemblance to real life. After a week of not managing, not sleeping, and worse, not getting enough oxygen (sending my husband back downhill really quickly), we finally worked out that the main problem was the headgear.

My husband is not a fit young man, and he certainly doesn't have a full head of hair. The harness was too big and kept slipping forward, letting the vital nostril thingies fall out.

Fortunately, I'm a resourceful woman. Once I'd worked this out, I got on the net and found what looked like the perfect remedy. It's a nifty skullcap designed to go under kayaking helmets.

It looks exactly like those fetching bonnets you see in portraits of people like Sir Thomas More. Only instead of being made of black velvet and fur, it's made of black rubber lined with polar fleece. So I introduced Harvey to his new fetish gear (well, he's always admired Sir Thomas, and it went with the harness), and we tried again.

Unfortunately, it didn't work. It's meant to be worn in freezing southerlies, not townhouse bedrooms. So while it kept the harness in place perfectly, it was far too hot.

Fortunately, notwithstanding my groggy state due to what was by now quite serious sleep deprivation, I had another idea. I got a piece of that thin non-slip rubbery matting that goes under TVs and tablecloths, and draped it over his head.

Then I stitched another piece around the top of the harness, pulled one over the other, and folded the front bit back. He looked like Old Mother Hubbard, but it worked, and we both got our first decent night's sleep.

Unfortunately, he got a cold, so he's having major problems again with the nostril thingies, and he's due for the skin graft in a couple of days...

So I'll keep you posted, even if you'd rather I didn't - he doesn't mind, and it makes me feel better. And if there's a gap in posts, you'll know why.

1 comment:

  1. My best wishes for a speedy recovery. I admire your resourcefulness and hope it pays off.