The Rep


I was visited today by a sales rep for a company selling neck supports. We think a support will make travel in the van more comfortable. The cushion, with an air inflation and deflation mechanism, is worth a try.

His visit reminded me of that of another sales representative in about May of last year. I had moved downstairs, and could no longer use the stairlift to access the sit-down shower. The OT, a lively and competent Irish woman called Clodagh, brought along someone to demonstrate a possible solution to the hygiene challenge.

The problem statement to be addressed is that of giving the person a good wash, while on a bed. Two carers, with bowls, flannels, shower gel and some rolls to me/to you, will get you pretty clean and fresh. The proposition of the product was that a bed wash neither leaves you fresh enough nor feels like a bath. Fair enough.

Imagine, if you will, a paddling pool, with sides about 15-20cm high, and rectangular shaped. Remove from storage location, unpack, inflate, hoist person, place on bed, place person in bath, fill, wash, drain, hoist person, remove and dry the bath, hoist person and dry/dress, pack away and store. All in a small room, containing a gantry hoist. Sold?

Present were Jane, Caron, Jampi, Clodagh, the rep and I. I was experiencing increased emotional lability by this stage, whereby I exhibit laughter or crying greater than normal. As I remember, I had my back against the wall, and was leaning on the standing frame.

The product demonstration was memorable because the rep believed her story, and because of what went wrong. It took place at a time when Jane and Caron knew living at home would no longer work, and when we were applying for critical funding of my care costs.

I looked on with disbelief as she tried to inflate the bath. This was done, although a part was missing. Then I started laughing. I also felt sad that her family’s prosperity maybe depended on commission from selling this garbage. There were different containers for clean and used water. When she explained, and started pouring water, I called a halt. I tried not to look at Caron, as I could see she was struggling to take it seriously. We informed the rep that we would look at other options. She bundled the bath, tanks and tubes into her car, apologising, as if it would have influenced our purchase decision, for the missing part.

How could I be in the bath? Back then, I had arm strength, but not enough to support myself. I couldn’t lie down.

Clodagh, ever positive, said at least we had seen it.

Jampi, ever practical and wanting to help, had asked questions during the demonstration. After she departed, he laughed in disbelief.

It all happened at a time when I was at my stubborn worst, when something needed to be done about my future care. Thankfully, there were two people who got that. One day, we might tell of the practical, financial and family side more.

In the care home now, I have a seated shower every day, and the bed wash is good if I am unwell.

Author: Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

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