Years ago, I read that furniture goes on sale in January following the holidays because people want to fill up the space left by the Christmas tree. I do not know how true that is because why would someone add to their holiday debt.
However, furniture keeps going on sale. So do mattresses, though I have noticed the mattress de jour starts marketing in the fall. Last year was a mattress named avocado. I think the year before it was named purple. Each year young couples bounce on the mattress known by a single name and proclaim it the best ever mattress.
The Coopers did not buy a mattress, but did buy a piece of furniture in keeping with our responsibility to respond to the market. We purchased a bedside commode — or, for the uninformed, a toilet that does not flush.
One corner of our bedroom looks like a mix of a hospital drug stand and rummage sale. The new piece of furniture fits well with the character of both in a homey sort of way.
Husband Paul and I have a strategy that has served us well for the last 18 months. We do our best to conserve energy, his and mine.
I have written before that Paul is able to make independent transfers — that is without my help — to and from his wheelchair to the toilet, bed and recliner.
Paul’s independence in transfers is what has allowed us to manage as long as we have. Transfers take tremendous energy in lifting and holding his body up.
Alas as is expected in the course of his condition, his energy wanes, and we seek new ways to conserve enough energy to continue his independence.
A few weeks ago, I started wheeling him to and from his destination which saves him a great of his energy. It is a way I can easily help him.
Our new furniture, the commode, is our next energy conserving strategy. Paul had been wheeling to the bathroom and back at night, but it had begun to leave him exhausted after a trip and in the morning.
Now, he easily moves from bed to commode, a nice complement to our strategy of sleep-saving for me since I usually sleep right through the event. The only times I do not are usually related to a lost slipper which unfortunately ended up in the commode one night.
When I am up and helping, there is barely room for me given the new furniture and the wheelchair. That and tripping over slippers and oxygen tubes is a challenge. At least if I fall, I will end up sitting on something.
Making living work strategy
My estimate is that we have rearranged the furniture in our living area at least six times since Paul entered the in-home hospice program. This is not an easy task.
Several years ago, we visited our favorite Ocean Shores store, our favorite because of the unique artwork. Paul spotted a beautifully shaped slab of marble leaning against the wall which was attractive but also exceptionally large.
We commented on it. I dismissed it as too big, but Paul kept returning to look at it. After several trips, it became evident to me that Paul loved it and wanted us to buy it.
We did and two men loaded the slab into the back seat of our car where it stayed until a Sequim stone worker came over with help, unloaded it, put it on the base we had and sealed it.
Voila! An unusual coffee table was created and now rested in the center of a rug as an immovable monument to Paul’s love of things natural.
I will never forget the time EMTs responded to my call. Paul’s issue was a breathing problem which was resolved but they thought he should sit differently so two big men moved the marble table away from the couch to make room for what I do not remember.
They left. Paul was fine but the table was 3-plus-feet away, unusable and stupid-looking. One son came a few days later and helped put it back. I tried to keep the presence of mind during later calls for EMTs to stop any but the most necessary furniture moving.
That was long before Paul entered the hospice program. When he did, we bought a recliner, the kind that gives one a boost to get up. The recliner has become his daytime home. We started by locating it so he could see the view, television, and wood stove. We made it so visitors could pull chairs up to be close to him for conversation.
We moved the chair a few more times which meant moving the marble table. Fortunately, we have a friend who can move it on the rug. He has done it enough that when I tell him we are moving furniture, he asks when we want him to come.
We have a spring/summer placement of the chair which allows Paul to look out on his landscaping creation and watch it grow and flower.
Our current fall/winter design has the chair moved across the room where Paul has a close view of the television and a good view of the wood stove.
Our winter quality of life has always included fires in the wood stove in the evening. We added portable tables so we can also eat dinner out in front of the fire. Evenings have become a warm wonderful time of day for us.
I should mention that the reason the marble table moves when Paul’s chair moves is that we place one end of the couch next to the chair.
A requirement of our design is that I always have a seat as close as I can be to Paul, this truly amazing man.
Bertha Cooper, an award-winning featured columnist with the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and is the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 25 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.