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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Slow Dancing in the Hall

One of the problems that Bob's experiencing is the inability to put weight on that right leg. Every time I have tried to get him to put some weight on that leg while standing at the rail in the hall, the result is that his knee buckles and he begins to slowly crumple toward the floor.

Last week, the therapist was trying to figure out a way for Bob to start putting some weight on his leg. It seems the typical exercise assigned at home is to have the person wheel up to the kitchen sink, pull themselves up by grasping onto the edge of the sink and stand there, sort of leaning forward, shifting weight from side to side.

She took one look at our kitchen sink and realized this is impossible.

One of the things Bob and I loved about the Pink House when we first saw it  (back then, it was "the white house on the corner") was its "old world charm". Walking into the house felt like walking back in time. Under layers of grim and dirt, all the woodwork, floors, windows, plumbing fixtures and kitchen cupboards were intact and dated from 1922. (The electrician would later call it "a god damn museum, not a house", as even the electrical wiring dated from 1922.) So our kitchen sink is an old wall hung, cast iron sink. Which basically means it has no cupboard supporting it underneath. And if 6'3", 190 lb. Bob tried to pull himself up on the sink--the result would most likely be that he would yank the sink right off the wall. Not a good thing.

So, the therapist decided we'd have to use the railing in the hall, but when she tried to get him to shift some weight to his right leg standing at the rail, she had the same result as me. Bob's knee buckles, he starts going down. She then tried placing the wheelchair at a right angle to the rail, so that he could lean forward toward the wall while doing this exercise, but unfortunately the hallway is too narrow.  After thinking about it, she devised a rather clever way to practice shifting Bob's weight. She called it "dancing". And this is how it's done:

Bob pulls himself up to a standing position at the rail, like he usually does for walking practice. His left hand is holding onto the rail. I stand on his right with my right foot in front his right foot (blocking it, so it doesn't slide). My left foot is positioned slightly behind the front wheel of the wheelchair which is behind us, in case he falls. My back is to the wall and I put my arms around Bob's waist, in a big bear hug. Then, I pull Bob toward me and we sort of sway back and forth, back and forth, shifting his weight from leg to leg. This way, I can keep him from falling down, by bracing myself against the wall if necessary.

The first time we did this, with the therapist watching, I couldn't believe how wonderful it felt just to hug Bob once again. I can't remember the last time that Bob and I stood next to each other and hugged each other. Let alone, actually danced. Of course, it isn't really dancing.

Although it does remind me of those couples on the dance floor, late at night, right before last call, when the band strikes up one last time and the lights go very low. It's usually some love song, you know the kind, such as that song that goes like this:

Only you can make the world seem right. 
Only you can make the darkness bright. 

And the dancers out there on the floor are sort of drunkenly holding each other up, feet barely moving, just sort of swaying back and forth, never really moving from one spot. While the band plays on:

Only you and you alone
can thrill me like you do.
You're my dream come true,
my one and only you.

And the nice thing about this exercise is that we can actually sneak in a kiss or two.


Rebecca said...

Everything about this sounds good.

Jenn said...

Mirror ball for ambiance? Lol.
So lovely <3

Barb Polan said...

Heartbreakingly lovely.

Anonymous said...

I can identify with that here. Karen and I are using a hug "transfer" when I move her from bed to wheelchair, or wheelchair to lounge chair, etc. We are also doing the "dance" during her PT exercise as she sways back and forth while standing. Karen made mention too that all we needed was a slow song.
I love hearing about the progress Bob is making with all your help. Enjoy the hugs, the dance, and the kisses. Dan

metalgirl162002 said...

I like that idea! Maybe it will feel less like PT and more like a bit of "fun" this way!

Karen Anne said...

I'm very out of date and perhaps this is a bad idea, but do they still use leg braces nowadays? I am thinking just during exercise, not full time, to keep the knee from buckling.