spinal-cord injury / Uncategorized

Another Week in Paradise day 6 and 7: travel, pressure marks, and bed rest

It’s been a big weekend. After nearly 6 months in hospital I had the opportunity to spend my first weekend at home. I cannot travel in a normal car– my 167 kg Electric wheelchair will not fit– and we cannot yet afford a modified vehicle. Wheelchair taxis are not only expensive but sickening, since the height of the chair sits me above the windows looking down onto the road. So the best way to get around (almost the only way) is public transport, and I have to say that ordinarily it is surprisingly good. most buses have handicapped access, and bus drivers are helpful. Trains are also easy to access. So, while  trackwork the previous week meant that it took me three hours to get home on a day trip, this time a bus to central and a fast train to Ingleburn got me home in good time. In fact, I arrived at my son Jacobs soccer field just in time to watch his team, the Ingleburn Eagles, draw the opening game of the season. Jacob played in the midfield and did well, even if he could barely walk by the end of the game.

After soccer I had the simple pleasures of being at home; eating a meal with a family, watching my dad and brother Troy rip a bathroom to shreds (they are making it usable for me), and watching a movie. Best of all I got to spend the night next my wife. We might have been in different beds (I am in a hospital bed with pressure relieving air mattress), but there is something delightful about simply sharing a space – that unique shared atmosphere that married couples enjoy, or that is experienced by brothers (and sisters) and close friends. An atmosphere that is lost in long stays in hospital

All of this, of course, was too good to be true. When I woke in the morning, my wife inspected my bottom (not for the reasons you might think, since such inspections are  twice daily event) only to discover a pressure mark. Pressure is the bane of spinal cord injury. Most people wriggle around when they sit, and jump up and down and walk around, and roll backwards and forwards when they sleep. All of this movement, most of which is unconscious,  ensures that no one part of the skin experiences pressure buildup. You have probably heard of bedsores, suffered by ageing people who were trapped in their beds unable to move. Spinal patients, likewise, are trapped in bed by night and in their chairs by days. Not only are they unable to feel the pain of pressure, but they cannot  move even if they do. They also have low blood pressure – I mentioned in a previous post that mine averages of BP of 95/60 (sometimes lower) were is the average person should be 120/80 – and the impact of reduced blood flow is to increase the risk of pressure sores. And what starts off a simple red  mark can become an ulceras sore that can keep people in bed for long periods of time. A friend of mine has been lying on her tummy and side for five months because of the pressure sore on her bottom.

And so my wife discovered a little pressure mark. it looked tiny and insignificant but it was enough to keep me in bed Sunday morning. I had to return to the hospital sitting in my chair, but as I now write I am lying in bed. After yet another check of my bum, the nurse tells me that this mark is not too bad. I am hopeful that it will clear quickly (a day or two). We shall  see.

pressure marks on my foot (you did not want to see the one on my bum)

About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on


  • Dustin Risner
    March 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I am thankful you got to be at home with your family. I am also glad your blogging – very insightful writing and helps my spirit pray.

  • David
    March 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Shane, thanks for the blog I really enjoy reading it. Chrissy and I are praying for you and your family, you are such an inspiration. God bless, David

  • Jacqueline Ewing
    March 27, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I’ve been praying for you from the start and shall continue to do so. I beleive for complete healing and really experience great faith when I pray for you. If there is any direction in prayer that you want please let me know.
    Jacqueline Ewing


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