After caring for Darius a few months, I could feel the enormity of our new life beginning to take its toll. The burnout began to creep in, and it didn’t take long for my body to begin showing some signs. Trying to bring Darius back into a normal rhythm of life felt like nonstop extreme juggling. I was ripping and running from the time my feet hit the floor in the mornings until Darius’ bedtime. I didn’t have a lot of time for myself so I would stay up late, (and I still do). I knew before Darius arrived I would need help with his care, so I brought in a daytime caretaker. Darius’schedule included bathing, toileting, and bed turning schedules, transfers, meals, therapy, doctor’s appointments, dailymedications, and transportation. It was a lot, but we soon founda routine that made it tolerable.
Prior to Darius coming home (for good this time) I rented a 2-bedroom apartment that was spacious. Darius’ inpatient therapy team did a home visit prior to him coming home to ensure that it was safe. I purchased as much as I could think of to prepare, and we of course learned what worked as time went on. Darius’ showers proved to be the most taxing, so I bought a swivel and slide shower chair that fits over the tub. If you have a bathroomthat is tight between the toilet and the shower, you will struggle, especially if your loved one is in a wheelchair.
With the swivel shower chair we were able to transfer Darius from his wheelchair to the shower chair which slides directly under the shower head. I also had to rearrange our furniture to make room for his wheelchair and all his equipment. In fact, the apartment was chosen and arranged to accommodate Darius.
We also learned that obtaining regular transportation for Darius was an unavoidable expense. He had to get around, so we would pay a wheelchair van service for transportation to his doctor’s appointments and church. I recall paying over seventy-five dollars to get us to and from church each week. The church was only 10 miles away, and the driver told us he discounted it. Darius’ doctor’s appointments were a bit further out, so it cost us well over a hundred dollars to get him there and back. Darius was not able to transfer into a regular vehicle without a lot of manpower, so
although expensive these services helped a lot. We soon counted the cost and realized that it would be more affordable to purchase a used wheelchair van. We got a 2008Honda Odyssey conversion van, and this changed our lives tremendously!
Although there were trials and errors during my husband’s first six months home, we did settle into a routine that was working. Whatever I could do to make our lives more efficient I would implement. When I needed help I asked! Being a caretaker is hard work, and I don’t believe one person can do it successfully, and that’s physically or mentally. Learn early to ask for help.