Editor's Note

Only Human

Right now, as I type this, my eyes keep drifting to a dark corner underneath my desk.

That's because in that spot under my desk sits an unopened 12-pack of Canada Dry ginger ale, a welcome-to-the-office gift from MM's art director/miracle worker, Dudley Wakamatsu. (By the way, I just moved: My new office phone number is 949-265-1573, so feel free to give me a ring.)

I know that ginger ale, like any other soft drink, is corrosive and full of empty calories and terrible for my teeth. Yet, when I am very stressed, nothing picks me up like a tall glass of ginger ale. Which, of course, is why I drink it: I convince myself that the wondrous benefits of ginger ale outweigh its considerable drawbacks just this once.

Segue to this month's cover feature on pressure sores:

One of my interviews was with Stephanie Tanguay, who has worn just about every DME hat there is. She's got OTR and ATP after her name, but she's also been a rehab technology supplier and now works for Motion Concepts - one of the go-to rehab manufacturers for truly complex cases.

Stephanie talked about how and why pressure sores come about (see the story on page 18). In some cases, it's clear that patients follow the pressure-relief regimens recommended to them, but something still goes wrong. After all, maintaining proper pressure management is a lifelong battle for wheelchair users.

Then I asked Steph about other cases in which the patient understands the value of pressure relief, is capable of performing the pressure relief, but for whatever reason, chooses not to. My question-behind-the-question: Isn't it frustrating for the rehab team - not to mention debilitating to the patient - when pressure-relief regimens aren't followed, and a pressure sore is the result?

"It's an unfair and oversimplified view for me to feel like that as a therapist," she answered. "Who am I to dictate that, when (a patient with paraplegia) is saying, 'I want to live my life. I need to have a job, I need to get on my ride-on lawnmower and cut my lawn. I have to do that; I can't afford to hire someone to do that for me.' There are so many things that can come into play. It's not that simple."

As Stephanie gave me real-life examples of former patients, I tried to envision myself in their situations. I spend 10 hours a day or more working on my laptop. If I had to stop every 30 minutes and tilt back to look at the ceiling for 15 minutes - in other words, if I were told to interrupt my interviews, my editing, my writing twice an hour - would I?

I hope I would. But I know that at least occasionally, I'd think,"I'm on a roll with this story! No way I'm going to stop now. I'll do my pressure relief later, it'll be fine."

I know I would do that for the same reasons I swig the occasional ginger ale. Most of the time, my conscience wins out, and I imbibe green tea or water. But sometimes, life interferes, and I reach for a ginger ale. I'm not trying to give my dentist a migraine; I'm just being human.

I hope this month's cover story gives you new strategies to help the wheelchair users you serve day in and day out. I hope it gives you some good advice to pass along to your clients, and that most of it will stick... even if life sometimes interrupts.

This article originally appeared in the July 1, 2009 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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