Getting a new wet room…

Starting tomorrow, Monday, I’ll be exiled from my flat while my bathroom is converted into a wheelchair-friendly wet room. It’s already been postponed for the better part of a fortnight as I’ve been too ill to put up with the disruption. I did say that if they put it back too far I might be ill again and – Sod’s Law – I am, mainly because the ME part of my dismal package of fuckuppery responds very badly to stress (one of my neighbours who – and it beggars belief – decided to sit it out while chaos surged around him is now a wreck, in a permanent state of rage). Me, I’m getting as far away from it as possible. I’ll be able to sleep here, but that’s all.

To make the best use of the wet room, I need one of these, a shower wheelchair.

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The scheme manager (I’m in a supported flat), has contacted Social Services to see if they will provide one. Bizarrely – I’ve been on their books since April 2013 (or 1986 if they look back far enough) – they have decided they can do nothing without a full assessment. I had one in 2013 – all that’s happened since then is that I’ve got very much worse and the Community Nurses can vouch for that.

So it’s going to take three weeks at least until I can get an assessment, and god knows how long after that until I get a decision, with no guarantee it’ll be the right one.

So screw you, Social Services, you’ve been no bloody help since I first made contact with you in 1986. I’ll buy my own, just as I’ve bought every other piece of equipment I’ve ever needed, except my clockwork bed, and that came via the nurses. And then it wasn’t a case of “Please can I have one?”, because I didn’t know I could. It was “You need one and you’re bloody well going to have it!”.

The chair I’m buying is the one in the pic, at £219.99, VAT exempt. I can’t order it until the job’s nearly completed, as I’ve nowhere to keep it other than the bathroom.

One of the very few benefits of being housebound is that I have no social life, and thus little to spend money on except me, and toys to make my life easier.

Something else that falls into the embrace of making my life, if not easier, then at least less painful, is a dressing protector, as I doubt soaking my ulcer in soapy, somewhat second-hand, water will improve it greatly. So I need to keep it dry with something like this. Trouble is, most say “Not suitable for use with open or undressed wounds” and I have a huge open (the shape is irregular but close to 200cm2), but dressed, wound. So would it be suitable? No idea. I’ll ask my nurses, but experience suggests they won’t know. And the one I favour, as it doesn’t rely on potentially painful and damaging stretchy neoprene, is unsuitable for people with vascular problems – like me. I’ve got a horrible feeling I might wind up with a shiny new wet room and still be unable to use it. Sorry, but that’s just not acceptable, and if I have to make my own wound protection gizmo then make it I bloody well will!

I’ve already designed and built a leg support for lymphoedema sufferers that doesn’t put any pressure on damaged tissue and why that didn’t already exist is quite beyond me. Apathy, I suspect, as I posted details online for anyone who fancied making it commercially to do so, free of charge. No takers.

I’m not interested in the money, just in improving the lives of those of us with this dreadful illness, but maybe if I’d demanded royalties, it would have generated some interest? People do tend to associate free with having no value.

I also designed a cup holder for wheelchairs that would fit any frame tube at any angle (most only fit vertical or horizontal tubes). I farmed that out to a couple of companies who claimed to be in the forefront of designing stuff for the disabled community. Again, no takers, and I couldn’t make it myself as it needs workshop facilities that I don’t have, whereas the leg support was a simple assembly job using existing parts.

I already know how I’m going to make the dressing protector as that, too, will feature existing parts, just in a novel configuration.

Actually, one thing that did come via the OT was a perching stool, for the bathroom where it was supremely useless. Part of the problem is that it has arms and a backrest, an impediment in the bathroom** (the wheelchair, above, also has arms, but they flip up out of the way, or can be removed; for the added convenience and pain-free use, I can live with the backrest. The only way to remove either on my perching stool is with a hacksaw. If I owned it, I wouldn’t hesitate, but I don’t.

**My view – others might not feel the same way. Neither of us are wrong!

I’ve tried using it in the kitchen, but that’s where another feature gets in the way. For the sake of stability, the legs are set wide apart laterally. That’s not a problem. The fact that the rear legs are set so far back, also for safety, is.

I was thinking of looking for a bar stool when I came across a folding perching stool. It has no arms, comes with or without a backrest, can be adjusted to a suitable height and folded away when not in use. The £66.50 price tag is off-putting, though, so shopping around is in order.

Which I’m doing but so far, including Amazon (£74.78), everyone else wants more. Highest price so far, £85.40 (prices with the exception of Amazon exclude VAT). I’ll probably go with Amazon. I can get free next-day delivery so taking that into account the price premium is less than a fiver even paying VAT. Worth it for the convenience of knowing when it’s coming.

On Amazon, I always try to second-guess negative reviews because over the years I’ve discovered that you can’t trust them and many of them are the result of user error, and vague complaints about comfort are just too subjective to be useful (please – be specific!). I noticed on the only review for this folding stool that there was, indeed, a useless moan about comfort (did the buyer even know how to set up a perching stool? I have no idea). He’s also been sent a steel one when he’d ordered an aluminium one. Amazon stock both, clearly he’d been sent the wrong version. He moaned about that, too when he should have sent it back. User error off the scale. The guy also complained – bitterly – about the weight. The perching stool I have is steel, and has arms and a backrest. It’s not that heavy so I seriously doubt the folder is.

Of course, if there are 50 reviews and the majority are poor, then there’s clearly something wrong, but a one-off like that above can be safely ignored.

The Amazon price, above, is for the steel version, the aluminium version is a fiver more and, is, I think, intended for shower use.

However, before I part with any money, I’m going to try the perching stool I already have in the kitchen for an extended test. It’s really not comfortable – the seat is board-hard and it’s a bit of a squeeze to get it in, but in it will go, not quite where I want it, but close enough to figure out if I can live with it. If it works out then I’ll get a folder, as there’s just not room to keep it in there permanently while the folder will come down from a couple of feet front to back to a few inches, allowing it to be stashed out of the way.

And then I’ll post a considered review, both here and on Amazon.

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2 thoughts on “Getting a new wet room…

  1. The protector that you have highlighted is great – I have my one still – it was worth every penny although I got it from Ebay at a much lower price. I had an open wound (dressed) for over 9 months until I had the amputation, so I got a lot of use from it. All of them are a bit awkward to get on and off, but you do get used to it in time and it kept my leg and foot dry, so I can recommend it.
    I can’t get my perching stool into the bathroom as there is no room – I have little room in the bungalow and I can’t even use the wheelchair in the house as the doors are narrow 😦 The perching stool is in the kitchen and I use if when I am ironing or for food preparation.
    The bathroom is a huge problem as the shower is over the bath – my Social Worker asked the landlord if they could put in a shower, as it is a wet room but they took the shower away and put in a very small bath! The landlord said “no”. I have to make sure that someone is in the house to help me shower, I have to sit on a shower seat, then slide from that to a bath board and then pull myself up with the rails, also making sure that the bath mat is really stuck as I don’t know how many times I’ve nearly gone! My GP and my Prosthestist say that I am in danger, but what else can I do?
    Hope it only takes a week to do the wet room, and not a builders week – I have the builders coming in at the end of April to strip out and then fit a new kitchen. That’s going to be fun as everything has to go from the kitchen, we don’t know where everything will go, and it’s going to be damned dangerous due to my prosthetic leg and a huge plaster on my arm as I go into hospital the end of this month to have a wrist fusion. I’m so scared about the operation but I need it desperately due to pain and the continual cracking and sticking in one place. Its really going to be fun as I won’t be able to get my prosthetic on by myself for at least 8 weeks! I’m also frightened because I only went in for an ankle fusion and ended up with a below knee amputation due to a surgeon’s error – I know it’s a different surgeon, I know he’s said he will take extra care with me and I know he’s told me that the blood supplies to the wrist are better than those in the ankle, but I’m still scared.
    Good luck Ron.
    Jay x

  2. Hi Ron, my thoughts are with you as i’ve been there myself… back in 2009 when the council/housing association did the renovations around here..(can never figure out which owns them these days because as far as i know,these ex council homes ..and those in other towns… now belonging to a housing association initially formed by local councils as the then central government wanted them to do, then after 12months that HA was offloaded from the council and the latter from then on was supposed to have nothing more to do with it.(i was closely involved as i was one of the tenants who got letters and info about each stage and attended meetings initially)all this so those councils could get their hands on money being allocated to them in order to renovate and update that housing stock.people still insist on calling them council houses however, leading to confusion a few years down the line. are they council or HA owned now?) anyway. i still moan about certain aspects of those changes 5 years later. 1. they took my pantry ,turned it into a boiler room with little space for storing tall items like vacuum cleaners, steam mops, long handled brushes etc. or 2.for shelves for pots, pans and tinned foods……. while 3, putting in 2 wall cupboards. corner ones making the corner bit impossible for me to get into, only useful for storing things like glass dishes you only use on special occasions.one for packet goods.1 for things for the dog like treats, flea drops, meds etc. and dishes. to keep out of way of my own things/foods.4. base units =1 sink unit with under sink cupboard, 2 corner cupboards with 12 inch wide doors,useless for elderly and disabled people to use. 5.bedroom lost 4inches of its width due to boxed in pipes and double radiators.(new carpet needed too all through because dog was so freaked out he kept weeing on the one in bedroom. lounge one was thrown anyway.it was getting on a bit anyway, and after first 2 weeks spent in shed during day. using laptop i couldn’t get online with .dongle i had been told would be fine was useless, dropping connection as soon as you got online all the time.spent the time playing games my daughter had put on disc for me.women’s murder club etc… was freezing cold. April (every other April since 1997 when i moved here had been glorious..sods law eh?
    anyway, single radiators would have been ample.and was left with nowhere to put my hall table which i loved to have a bowl or vase of flowers on to make the hall look nice and inviting. they had closed off pantry door in kitchen so useless corner cupboard could fit and opened up door in hall in the corner that table went,why they couldn’t have put the door 2 feet to left i don’t know or better still knocked into the pantry. pulled down a 3 foot dividing wall between hall n kitchen making no pantry at all.and door on the corner of the L shaped hall. but bigger kitchen..so instead i had much less cupboard and storage space than before and there wasn’t much of it in first place………. however.. the wet room is a joy,. never realised how big that bathroom was till the bath was taken out..only thing i wouldn’t have chosen if i had to go back to then,is the flooring. it has steel chips in it. NOT very good for anyone with foot problems. especially diabetics or as in your case, through lightening strike or other injury.so if you have the choice,, find out whats in each sample before deciding. i never realised how UN-comfortable this stuff could be.apart from a fight with a 4foot midget woman (i am 5foot 6) about where my tabletop cooker was to go…(bought because i couldn’t bend down to lift anything heavy and hot from a normal oven, and being only me was fine… but she wanted to put it with hobs (which were on top) level with counter tops……..she said EU regulations…ooo red rag to a bull that one.. so i lost it and said how the hell can the EU tell us where to put our table top ovens when they have never met me and don’t know my circumstances?…she says.well you cant reach into a pan to stir it safely……. i said excuse me. but i am a good head and shoulders above you.. of course i can see to stir a pan. had to get social services involved. they were good./fought my corner but still had to compromise and have it half n half. below/above the unit surfaces.always have felt they ignore the elderly and disabled in these things.surely we know what works for us best?we are living it after all. these are bungalows for such people so adaptations like that wont be a problem when i kick the bucket and someone else moves in.besides they can soon lift the worktop that sits 8inches below the surfaces now. anyway. my experiences… for what its worth/. you are better off not being there when its done. though depending on who does it, i was glad i was around if not indoors at first.. could see what they were doing and get the workmen to do things to suit me in a lot of instances like extra sockets near PC. (means desk cant be moved from this recess. but never mind eh?.)
    good luck anyway. hope you keep well through it all.worth it in the end if its just the wet room being done.

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