Let's not get into what it would take for me to accomplish all the stuff I used to sleep walk through in a nighttime. Let's start small. Reading in bed.
Kirsten and I talked extensively about reading in bed together before we were married. We both anticipated the romance of cracking a new novel or the latest Thomas Friedman tome on the extinction of human life thanks to the global environmental/health/economic scare of the moment, lying side-by-side, sneaking passionate glances over our reading glasses at each others' rumpled end-of-day hairdos. Surely this was an activity we'd enjoy together long into our retirement.
Here's me reading in bed the other night:
Kirsten and I started talking about the effort and engineering it takes to make me comfortable reading in bed each night. So, here's a quiz: can you spot all the devices needed to make this simple task possible? Jot down your answers (assuming you still have full control over a pen, unlike me) and check them below.
- Reading lamp arched over the bed. Special purchase specifically intended for reading in bed. What we tried before the arched arm lamp: spelunking headlight (couldn't get it off my head or turn it off), various book lights (too dim, couldn't operate the switch, impaired page turning).
- Lap desk. Special purchase specifically intended for reading in bed. This one has a handle (handy for Kirsten) and a tray which I used to use for the bookmark when I could reach above the book to grab it.
- Book. Obviously. But has to be a book with firm enough pages to grasp and turn. I just rip the pages that are too thin.
- New! Piece of tape stuck wrong way out on finger to assist with page turning. Can't be too sticky so has to be handled by Kirsten a bit before it's usable.
- Pivot disk. Intended for standing transfers which I can no longer do. We put it under the lamp so it can swing away to get me into bed (using the Hoyer lift).
- Book under pivot disk. So lamp doesn't tip over on the carpet. Book title: "The Capability Maturity Model" by Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering. Finally found a good use for it.
- Pillows. One under each arm. Left elbow pillow folded in half. One behind head.
- Hospital bed. Oh yeah, the obvious thing. We have it pushed up against our queen to create what we affectionately (?) call our Minnesota King-size bed.
- Catheter bag hung on side of hospital bed. I'll let you figure out where the other end attaches.
- Satin turning sheet. Thank you Lecia! Helps position me in bed and turn me over when Kirsten is half asleep.
- Hand sanitizer on nightstand.
- Large water pitcher because I need lots of water. Long straw made from plastic tubing to get it up to my mouth, thanks Craig for crafting these!
- Bed remote. This is intended to allow me to recline when I'm done reading. It works most times.
- Small non-skid, stick-on rubber bumpers. We have just stuck these to the "down" buttons on the bed remote to make it easier to push the buttons. It's helping.
- Light remote. This is a dimmer switch the lamp is plugged into to allow me to shut off the light when I'm tired. Works great when it hasn't fallen on the floor.
- Side rail. Works great to prevent me from falling on the floor. Mostly.
- Air mattress and pump. Small fish tank pump under the bed inflates an air mattress under my ass to keep me comfortable. Wishing we'd had this years ago.
- Small book beneath the book I'm reading to keep my current read propped up so I can reach it. I like to use "Prayers & Promises...when facing a life threatening illness" by Ed Dobson, even though it's a constant reminder of my situation.
- Folded tube sock under my right wrist to cushion it against the plastic lap desk.
- Sleeping pill to stop me from reading all night.
PS: Thank you to my beautiful wife for conceiving and writing the initial draft of this post.