I mentioned that finding products for our growing family would also be a challenge due to Bill’s disability. This post is about the accident that left him a quadriplegic, what limitations he has/doesn’t have, and how adaptability is important to him becoming the type of parent that everybody envisions when having children.
The story starts in the summer of 1991. Bill was 16 years old and had recently got his drivers license. He was traveling out of town on a gravel road and came over a small hill. He lost control of the vehicle after swerving to miss a vehicle that was in a field driveway.
After losing control, his vehicle hit a telephone pole. He was taken to the local hospital where it was discovered that he had broken his neck. He was then air lifted to North Memorial Hospital. There he was diagnosed with a c5-c6 incomplete spinal injury. At first he had no feeling at all. Later on down the road is when some feeling was regained. He spent 3 months in the hospital recovering and going through physical and occupational therapy. Although he is a quadriplegic, he does have some use of his hands and use of his arms. He also has most feeling in legs but it gets “spotty” above the waistline to about the armpit line.
He is fortunate to have the regained the function that he lives with today, and he is thankful for that.
He will be in a wheel chair the rest of his life, but it does not slow him down. He likes to do things that most able bodied people do (with limitations , of course) and he is never down about his injury. He doesn’t mind talking about it, he always tells me (and others) that he would rather have people ask him questions than just stare at him.
Because of his quadriplegia, some of the normal, everyday products that most of us take for granted, he either is unable to use or had a more difficult time using. Though he had adapted well, there are still things that are difficult. One example of this is using a regular knife to cut food. Because of the way he has to hold the knife, it is difficult to be able to actually cut the food. We discovered, not all that long ago, that to cut food, it is easier to use a pizza cutter.
This brings up why it is a bit more of a challenge to find baby products that will work for him. The main one that we realized would cause some issues was a crib. With how a “normal” crib is built, he would have to reach over the top and down to pick up the baby. This would not work for him. We had to find another option. Scouring the internet proved both helpful and disappointing.
Disappointing because to go buy a crib that was made for parents in wheelchairs was quite expensive and not that easy to come by. Helpful because there were people out there that talked about modifying basic cribs to make them accessible for people in wheelchairs. With Bill having a couple very handy brothers, the decision was made to modify a crib, well 3. At this point in time, the modifications have not begun. I am hoping that they will remember to take pictures during the process so we are able to post the project here and possibly help out other parents in the future.
Other items that we are finding necessary are things like a carrier, just to simply move baby(s) around the home. Because of his leg spasms, and the possibility of movement form baby, placing them on his lap to wheel around is not the best choice, for obvious reasons.
What about bathing? Many baby bathtubs are out there. As any of you parents know, wet babies are slippery, even with “normal” functioning hands. When babies move, they tend to slide down and could possible get there face in the water if they fall right and one isn’t quick enough to get them up. This prompted me to look at a better option than just one that the little one just sits in the water. What about the one that can be put in the sink? Seems like a good option, except with the lack of a completely accessible sink, that would also make it difficult for Bill. Then I saw a baby bathtub that could sit on the table, with a sling in it. The sling would allow baby to not sit in the water and slip down. Also, this tub could be put on a table at a good height for Bill to be able to bathe the babies.
Most of the products are going to be just fine, he can adapt to using them however works for him. It will take some trial and error, but with three babies, he will have plenty of practice.