Taking Back Control

The hospital table was tilted on a severe angle. Obviously, it was broken. My nurse took it apart and found the base had broken. Off it went to a local welder who was more than willing to fix it. The focus on my table stirred up some less than happy memories. Early on with quadriplegia, you seem to be at the mercy of everything and everyone. Little or nothing seems within your control. It became vital for me to regain control of some things regardless of the price that had to be paid. Most of my issues and frustrations still involve the same factor and that is control. When I feel as though I have control in a situation I feel comfortable regardless. When I don’t have control the exact opposite is true; I get nervous, frustrated and angry at the lack of ability that I have. When I first came home from the rehabilitation center, I had absolutely no control of anything. As my physical health improved I became desperate to regain some control over my life. In addition to the physical results of my accident, I was dealing with tremendous mental anxiety which left me frightened to be alone, afraid of the dark, fearful of the unknown and scared to be in certain places or positions. I had started having night terrors and was getting very anxious over my inability to exercise any control over my environment. The demons were worst at night, so that’s where I began. After a while I realized that it was possible to begin to exert control over basic issues that were bothering me.

I already had the hospital table and I knew that I had to place things on the table that would give me control of the environment, at least in my immediate area. I can’t remember exactly the way things transpired, but today on my hospital table I have several items that give me control. The most important items is a remote switching device which allows me to turn the lights on and off, not only in the bedroom, but in other areas of my home. It also allows me to use my CPAP machine. I have a large remote for the television which has a strap handle that I can grab and easily manipulate it when needed. I also have a pill container which has the two pills that I need from time to time, one for pain and the other for anxiety. I can reach them and take them any time of the day or night. There is also a small drink coozie that contains mints. Often when I wake up at night my mouth is extremely dry and having a mint relieves some of the foul taste. There is a water bottle on which I have placed handles so that I can grab and easily grip it if I need it. My LifeNet is attached to a hook on the leg of my hospital table at night, unless my wife is gone and I’m home alone. In that event, I wear the LifeNet in bed. If Marge is not at home, I also add a portable telephone to the table that is quite easy for me to use. In addition, my iPad also sits on the hospital table along with a set of headphones. If I wake up and my wife is asleep, and I want to listen to music or watch a movie, all I have to do is plug the headphones into the iPad and I’m in business. At times in the dark it’s difficult for me to find the port for the headset, so I put a small piece of grip tape along the edge of the iPad leading to the port for the headphone. I can feel its rough surface and follow it to the port. We have also strategically placed some Velcro on the hospital table; one piece is to secure the remote switching control, and the other is used to attach the mask that I wear for my CPAP machine. I use these when my wife is away or I want to stay up longer than she does. I can just grab the mask and put it on. A bed control clipped on my shirt which allows me to raise myself in bed was another addition. With the help of the CPAP mask I began to sleep comfortably through the night, only rarely experiencing my past fears and anxieties. Furthermore, as I was able to regain my control in a few areas, I began to realize I could do it in other situations as well.

Right to left: Switch Remote, Coozie, Water Bottle, Pill Container,TV Remote, CPAP Mask, iPad and Headphones,LifeNet Hanging on Leg

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