At the hospital, they used to move Bob using a machine called a Hoyer Lift. This device has a hydraulic arm that picks the patient up out of bed with a large sling, swings him around through the air and then deposits him in a chair. They wanted me to rent a Hoyer Lift for our home, but I nixed the idea for two reasons. Good grief, who has room for this huge contraption (it would take up most of the living room!) and second, I am a strong proponent of "tough love" and I figured that Bob needed to get moving on his own, and what better motivation than just to make him work for it and not have the convenience of a machine to do the work for him.
I spent a lot of that last week at the hospital arguing against the Hoyer Lift. The therapists told me it would take three people to physically transfer Bob from bed to wheelchair, but I remained stubborn and asked to be shown how to use a slide board (also called a "transfer board"). Finally, they gave in and brought out a slide board and showed me how to use it. Bob and I tried it out, and I thought we did pretty well and I thought that was the end of the Hoyer Lift debate, however, the day before he was discharged, I got a call from a medical supply company telling me that they had an order from the hospital for a Hoyer Lift and when can they deliver it? (GAAA! I cancelled the order.)
Here's how we do it: First, I roll the wheelchair next to the bed and park it at an angle. One wheelchair arm must be taken off, as well as the footrests. Then, Bob must pull himself forward to a sitting position and swing both legs over the side of the bed. He sometimes has difficulty swinging his legs, so I help him, but I let him get as far as he can on his own. Once up, he must scoot to the edge of the bed and get his feet firmly on the floor. Then, I position the slide board. The board is just that, a long board with tapered ends, slickly polished with varnish. One end of the board rests on the wheelchair seat and the other end is positioned under Bob's left thigh. The board then makes a little bridge between the bed and the wheelchair and Bob scoots along this bridge on his rear end and ultimately slides onto the wheelchair seat. He's got the scooting part down pat, almost goes too fast (freaks out the therapists) but he basically can do this part on his own and I'm only there to make sure he doesn't take a tumble. Once in the chair, the arm goes back on as well as the footrests and we are ready to roll! Out the back door and down our ramp, which is a bit of a carnival ride with all the twists and turns. Bob helps by grabbing onto the ramp rails as we go down.
The ramp was donated to us by a wonderful group called CASCIL (Caring And Sharing for Independent Living). Thank God for CASCIL. I don't know what we would have done without them.
Anyway, getting in the car is another thing. First, I must park the car at an angle at the bottom of the driveway. Unfortunately, The Green Machine is not set up for handicapped access. First problem is the bench seat, which because I'm short, doesn't leave Bob much leg room. Second problem is that the car is a two door, so I can't put him in the back seat. But it is what it is, and it's all we got, so we make do. We use the slide board to get him into the car. Once again, one arm comes off the wheelchair and also the footrests. The board goes between the car seat and under Bob's left thigh and, holding onto the car door, he slides into the car. I have to lift his legs up and tuck them in. Then I fold up the wheelchair and hoist it into the trunk, and we are off to the doctor's office.
Getting out of the car is another matter. The first time we practiced this was a complete disaster. We looked, I'm sure, like Laurel & Hardy with a wheelchair. Bob slipped and fell between the wheelchair and the car, and I had to race around to the driver's side and pull him back up into the car. Now, we use a gait belt, because the slide board doesn't work when he's coming out (paralyzed side first). Once again, I park the wheelchair next to the car at an angle. This time, he grabs the remaining arm of the wheelchair and I hold onto the back of the gait belt. Then, we count, One, Two, Three, and on Three, he pulls himself toward the wheelchair while I lift up by the gait belt and plop him into the chair. Whew! Somehow, it works. Then, on goes the wheelchair arm and the footrests and we are again ready to roll.
Now you know why I am exhausted after a trip to the doctor's office! But, I must admit, the first time we accomplished this feat, we were both quite pleased with ourselves. If only those hospital therapists could see us now!