I have not been keeping track of how often, each day, I ask Susan, “Is there anything I can do for you?” But I think it may be too often, because she answers, “No, I’m just as comfortable now as I was ten minutes ago.”
I can’t help it. I’m desperate to make things better for her, even if in small ways.
And, during last weekend, I have.
The Worst Remote in the World
The hospital bed we have set up in what was formerly our living room is really good to have. Because of it, Susan is always close to the family. It’s easy for me to get her food (the kitchen is in the adjoining room). She has a great view of our cul-de-sac, which is where all the neighborhood kids play.
The bed itself is comfortable, too; the head and feet can be raised at the touch of a button.
And that’s where the problem is.
Allow me to introduce you to what I consider the worst remote ever designed:
First of all, those blister-style buttons are entirely invisible in low light, and you would (not) be surprised at how often one encounters a low light situation when one is in bed.
Second, can you tell which button raises your head? Yeah, the top-left one. I’ll bet you got that one right. And which button lowers your head? If you guessed the bottom-left button — the button that shows a lowered head — you guessed wrong. No, the button that lowers the head is the blister button at the top-right: the one that shows lowered feet.
Oh, and it gets better. To raise your feet, you press the button over the lowered head. Yes, really. And the worst one is: to lower your feet, you press the button showing raised feet. That’s right: that bottom-right button does exactly the opposite of what it shows.
If you’re confused by this now, consider how you might feel trying to decipher this thing if you were really sick and not thinking at your clearest.
I’m sorry; I need a moment to let my blood pressure return to normal. I tend to take stuff like this a little personally right now.
Anyway, here is how I rectified the problem, using sticker dots and some tape:
Problem solved. I’m a hero.
Bike Tech Rules
Another problem Susan’s got is getting enough to drink. She’s weak, she’s tired, and her hands shake. It’s a big effort for her to raise her head, find, lift and sip from a cup or bottle.
Here is my solution:
There’s a lot of clutter in that picture, so I’ll explain.
- I ziptied a carabiner-style keychain holder to the rail on Susan’s bed.
- I hung a Camelbak water bottle from the carabiner.
- I added a Camelbak drink tube adapter to the water bottle.
- I ziptied another carabiner to the rail as a place to hang the bite valve.
The result? A non-leaking, non-dribbling, non-spilling way to drink that Susan can easily find even in the dark. She doesn’t have to lift a bottle or cup, and can just let the bite valve fall out of her mouth when she’s done.
I believe this may be the best use of Camelbak technology, ever. I’m surprised that they don’t have setups like these in hospitals; they’re much easier for a sick patient to get to than a traditional cup.
I can’t help but think that my solution to this problem is strongly tied to what I know: I’m a cyclist, so of course I solved this problem using zipties and a Camelbak drink tube.
So: hooray for bike tech and its applications in the real world.