I bought Dad a walker yesterday

by CynthiaYockey on November 18, 2009

The walker is a nice one — it folds so I can easily put it in the car, and it has wheels on the front. Dad’s physical therapist said that the walkers with wheels help people with mobility impairments both with their walking and their breathing because it keeps the chest muscles in a better position. Dad hurt his back at the beginning of the month — he doesn’t remember how — and has been walking hunched over and leaning on his quad cane with both hands ever since.

By the way, I was wrong in my recent post that I should have fought the prednisone taper program — and I have apologized to the nurse practitioner, although I was just firm and not rude with her not just because it is wrong to be rude but because it is especially wrong and counter-productive to be rude to anyone who is trying to help you. The problem has nothing to do with arthritis and prednisone — it is lower back pain. I suspect he hurt his back doing something simple that he used to do with ease, like getting out of a chair, or bed, or that he thought it was simpler to get into his stair lift chair by climbing up a couple of steps and twisting onto the seat, instead of running it down to the first floor all the way.

Problems with walking can be deadly because they increase the likelihood of falling and breaking a bone. My mother died in April 2006 a few months after falling and breaking her left arm near the shoulder. After the shoulder replacement surgery, she stopped eating and drinking almost completely — her body was shutting down and she fought being given food and fluids, and vomited them up when she was pressed to take more than she wanted.

The treatment for Dad’s back pain is pain medication, which also has a couple of side effects that could lead to his death — I know he’s 93, so you are probably thinking that he has “93” and that would do the job: shut up! Pain medication can depress your breathing, which is an issue with people with obstructive sleep apnea. It also makes you constipated, which is an issue with someone with congestive heart failure, since straining to go increases your heart rate.

If you are wondering why I’m bringing this up, it’s after 4 pm and Dad isn’t up yet. OK, wait, thank God, he’s up — I hear him coming out of his bedroom. I’ve got to go make him … well, breakfast, since it’s his first meal today.

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Peter November 18, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Now that you bought your dad’s I saw a nifty one a few years back, up near you, actually, during my only (so far) visit to Washington, D.C. There was an elderly woman using one of those walkers with four wheels, it had a little seat on it for when the person got tired and needed to rest a minute. The interesting thing was that the person using it could sit and be “towed” along. The lady I saw with it was visiting the Viet Nam Memorial wall while I was, and one of her daughters was pulling her along. We visited for a few minutes. Her son’s name was on that wall.

As for your Dad being 93, so what? When your Dad is ready to go he’ll do what your Mother did, stop eating. I’d wager there was pain she didn’t tell you about or some other reason she did not want to continue. So, she went home. If we’re lucky enough, that’s what we will do when our time comes.

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