Walking around with CMT can be hard enough, but when you have one foot, weighted down by a cast, off the ground entirely, and the other foot, affected by CMT (pain, high arches, weak ankles, limited or no ability to lift the foot when taking a step), getting around is like playing a game of hopscotch in pebble- lined high heels when you feel dizzy. Try it sometime and see how far you get.
So this begs the question-How do you get around the first few days, weeks, months after foot surgery? What are your options?
The first week is especially hard due to pain, blood rushing to the foot upon standing, and additionally compromised balance from the pain meds. Yohan initially tried crutches, but that was a disaster waiting to happen. Holding the crutches too far out to the sides on a newly polished hard wood floor almost cost him his life-the first night. He was moving too fast, wanted to get to the bed. Yelping as he slipped to one side, we caught him just in time before he crashed into the wall.
Plan B included the use of a wheelchair. The Occupational Therapist in the hospital taught him how to transfer from a sitting position to the wheelchair and back to a chair again. They repeated the maneuvers in the bathroom and on the bed. This seemed to work well until we got home and tried it in our house, which, as Yohan has reminded me a million times in the last 2 days, is “NOT handicapped accessible.” “Oh, come on. It’s 95% accessible. It’s good enough”, I countered at just about the same time the wheelchair scrapped the paint both off the wall and the door as Yohan attempted to squeeze through. Smugly, his eyes screamed, “I told you so.”
It’s true. To get into the house from the front, there are 3 stairs and no railing. Fail. Wheeling the chair around the house is an option except for the very narrow brick pathway leading to the back door. One teensy tiny wrong turn of that path and the wheel will tumble right off the edge, down into the dirt. Another fail.
Once you reach the back door, there is a small step, and then the bottom rim of the sliding screen door to master. “Okay Yohan, I agree. This house is not 100% handicapped accessible. In fact, it’s not even 50% accessible.” Changes are underway.
In the meantime, I feel that if he can get back and forth to the bathroom, that’s a win-win situation for everyone, right?
We follow the wheelchair in to the bathroom, which seems so much smaller and limited than I had remembered. “Don’t pull on the sink, Yohan. You’ll rip it out of the wall” shrieks my husband. “And do not hold on to the towel rack either. That will never support your weight!”
From this vantage point, Yohan can go no further. There are still 3 feet between the toilet and the end of the wheelchair. Now what? In that moment, nature was calling so Gilles lent him a hand, then an arm to help him get into place safely. This is definitely not a long term solution.
We’ve found a provisional fix for the bathroom trips. It’s a perfect solution for now. It’s our 59 fl oz Honest Tea bottle, which we’ve appropriately renamed, our “Honest Pee” Bottle. For a man, it’s a no brainer. I’d rather have to empty the bottle every couple of hours than risk a fall. As for all other bathroom-required activities, we’ll give him a helping hand for now.
As an aside, Yohan, sense of humor intact, suggested playing a joke on Gilles by putting the Honest Tea bottle full of pee back in the fridge to see if Gilles would think it was Honest Tea and drink it. I shut that idea down quickly.
We have more important tasks at hand, like retrofitting the house to make it handicapped accessible.