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Mobility issues in a fifth wheel after breaking a leg


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I posted earlier about making sure you're careful about not stepping out of the rv onto icy steps. It can lead to a bad fall. I am an example.

 

It was two weeks ago yesterday that I took that fateful step out of the rv expecting to find solid footing on the top rv step only to find a sheet of ice. Nasty fall. Broke both lower leg bones clear off in my left leg and in a number of pieces, mostly down closer to the ankle. I'm all screwed back together and in a "walking cast", not that I'm allowed to put ANY weight on it for at least another month. But as of yesterday, I'm back to the rv. It's just me and my dear wife so I'm not alone at least.

 

What I was wondering is whether anyone may have some advice on getting around in the rv. It's not quite small enough to just hop everywhere. I'm not so good at hopping anyway. My walker does pretty well on the main level but this happens to be a typical fifth wheel. There are two hefty steps up into the bathroom area (probably 9"-10" steps) and one more similar step up into the bedroom from the bathroom. I have discovered that I can get up them on crutches but it's not pretty and I'm kinda afraid of reinjuring myself, which is NOT something I want to do right now.

 

Some friends of ours built us a nice deck outside with maybe 6" steps. They're pretty easy to get up. And they tried to put some hand holds in a couple of different places inside. But none of those handholds have been of any use at all as I don't have enough hands to hold onto both crutches and hand holds at the same time. Besides, there were difficulties in putting in hand holds that are really secure enough to put my entire weight on so they're more for purposes of "steading me" rather than anything I could actually use for lifting purposes.

 

I've not been able to use a walker for steps. Crutches are shaky. I haven't tried sitting down on my butt and sliding up the stairs yet but that would seem like about the most practical way without the fear of falling.

 

For now, my wife got me a potty chair and the kitchen sink can probably work well for washing my hair and such, at least temporarily. But I can't say I'm exactly thrilled about either of those.

 

The toilet room is iffy at best. The shower is just entirely too small and nothing to really hang on to despite actually having a decent seat built in if I could get in and out of there.

 

I know, it will heal. And it will get better over time. The next month will be the biggest challenge with that time being the most delicate in terms of growing new bones.

 

So I thought I'd ask if anyone had any advice about getting around a fifth wheel while one leg is an absolute do not walk upon. I suspect others have had to do so. I'd be interested in what you found worked for you!

 

Thanks!

 

P.S. for the past two weeks, we've stayed with some friends that have a rancher and a few handicap amenities such as real grab bars in the shower that I can really lift myself up on without any worry. Love them dearly but didn't want to impose for another whole month.

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I broke my leg a couple of weeks ago so I can understand your issues. I go in & out of the coach on my butt one step at a time. My wife removed the bathroom door so my leg can stick out into the hallway when I'm sitting on the job. She then bought a sort shower curtain rod and curtain to put in the doorway for some privacy. For mid-night relief she got me a pee bottle from Walmart. For cleaning she bought me some large body wipes from Walgreens (I miss showers!) She washes my hair in the kitchen sink.

 

Don't take any chances and get well soon!

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Thanks, Horizon36,

 

I indeed appreciate that little "pee pot" that I took home from the hospital! That little guy is handy. :)

 

We do have a pretty nice place for washing hair, in the kitchen sink, complete with a pull-out sprayer.

 

Haven't tried the sitting on the butt and sliding up the steps thing yet but I have a feeling that will be coming before too much longer. Not quite ready for that yet as the leg is still pretty delicate.

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We had somewhat the same issues when Pam had screws put into a badly broken ankle back a few years before we had our home-base. She got into the RV by sitting down on the door and rotating inside. I retracted the steps for her to do that. Our bathroom was large enough for the cast but it was quite a process for me to assist her into it, but she did learn to manage to get there with crutches, after a little time. Bathing was a real challenge and it was quite a fortunate that we had a tub as showers were forbidden for the first six weeks. I put a bath stool into the tub and she sat with her leg outside and used the hand sprayer and a wash cloth.

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Thanks, Kirk.

 

Hope Pam is completely recovered by now and all that is behind her.

 

I have wondered whether it might actually be easier for smaller people in these situations. Being a little shy of 6' tall and a bit over 200 lbs is a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to tight spaces.

 

Our first rv, a 32' Jayco travel trailer, had a very tidy little bathroom with a toilet, sink and tub with shower. There are times when I think it would be easier if we were living in that again, or something more like it. But I suspect I'd still have trouble getting my largeness into those small spaces. It is one time when having either a motorhome or travel trailer with all one level would be very welcome!

 

I guess I got lucky on the showering part. I'm allowed to shower, no problem. I do kinda remember they didn't want me to soak the leg in the tub. And the original post-op cast was only on for the first two weeks. Now, it's a walking cast that I can take on and off which makes it much nicer to be able to (CAREFULLY and GENTLY) wash and put on a clean sock. They still don't want me out of the thing much yet, though, too delicate.

 

One thing I do wish our shower had was some kind of secure hand holds. It's fairly roomy and does have a seat built in. But there is absolutely nothing to hang on to. The door isn't big enough to get the walker in part way, even sideways. And I'm just not that agile on crutches. So it's the kitchen sink and a bowl and wash cloth for me for a while, I think.

 

This too shall pass... :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some drinks need ice!!!

 

If you only need something to hang onto once in the shower or to get up from a seat this might work: http://www.amazon.com/Safe-er-Grip-Bath-shower-Handle/dp/B000S8O9ME/ref=pd_bxgy_hi_text_y. The wife uses a variety of these around the house and in the fiver shower. I have used them to handle large pieces of glass. Clean the shower surface with alcohol and attach.

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As per the product description, "full body weight is not to be applied to product". Not a good choice for me right now as I need something that I can apply full body weight to, and full body weight is in the 250 lb area, I believe.

 

I did have some new x-rays and a consultation with the doctor yesterday. They're pleased with the progress and bone is starting to fill in as it should. But they still do not want me putting ANY weight on that leg for at least four more weeks. The bones are not far along enough in their healing that they could still be reinjured pretty easily so I need more time.

 

We have some friends that have allowed us to stay with them for significant blocks of time. They have a walk in shower with the 2" stainless hand holds that I really can put my full body weight on. It makes it pretty easy when I know I can trust the hand holds.

 

It feels like watching paint dry and watching grass grow are speedy events these days but I know I'm healing and I know this too will pass. For now, certain parts of the rv just don't work. As I heal, they will again.

 

Some drinks need ice!!!

 

If you only need something to hang onto once in the shower or to get up from a seat this might work: http://www.amazon.com/Safe-er-Grip-Bath-shower-Handle/dp/B000S8O9ME/ref=pd_bxgy_hi_text_y. The wife uses a variety of these around the house and in the fiver shower. I have used them to handle large pieces of glass. Clean the shower surface with alcohol and attach.

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That's an interesting idea, Kirk. I just heard about such a thing within the last couple of days.

 

One of the biggest challenges, though, at least for me is STEPS. If they have a sturdy hand railing, no problem. If they do not, they can be quite difficult for me, especially very tall steps. (Our inside steps are something like 10" tall, not particularly friendly even when nothing is broken.) I haven't tried it yet but I am seriously considering an attempt at climbing them by scooting up them on my butt. Getting from a sitting-on-the-floor position once I get up there, though, causes me to give pause until I feel like I have a good answer for that.

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We've considered renting a motel. It would be an added expense that we're not really prepared for. I do have a few "points" accumulated on the credit card that would cover maybe 3 or 4 nights but that's about the limit on that. The little bit of insurance we have will not cover a motel.

 

The motel may be a limited option for a night or two when we need to. The lower level of the rv is usable as is. I despise the potty chair but I can do the "sponge bath" thing at the kitchen sink pretty easily.

 

(I am convinced that the potty chair was designed by someone who never had to use one. It can be a bit humorous, not sure if it's too graphic to write about on here. At our friends' house, we had a good laugh, though.)

 

I'd seriously consider an apartment or a rental property if that were to make itself available. I think we'd have to do something to put the rv to bed, though, as we can't afford both.

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(Our inside steps are something like 10" tall, not particularly friendly even when nothing is broken.) I haven't tried it yet but I am seriously considering an attempt at climbing them by scooting up them on my butt.

That was exactly the way that Pam got into and out of our motorhome with her first ankle surgery. Those steps to the bedroom are one of the reasons that we chose a motorhome over a fifth wheel also. We also had a larger than typical bathroom in ours which proved to be a big plus.

 

You can probably rent one of those knee walkers and while it won't help with steps, you will be amazed just how much more mobile it does make you. And Pam said that it was fun also!

 

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