Wednesday, June 03, 2009

This is Not Your Father's Hospital Bed-Part III: Looking Forward Instead of Looking Back

Before Photo: This is what a typical standard hospital bed looks like when they ship it to you. Note the universal headboard and footboard.
After Photo: This is Dear Son's new Tendercare Bed. The Tendercare bed features a patented "slip over" headboard and footboard; the headboard and footboard just slip over the hospital bed. The hospital bed remains fully functional.
I remember being the in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) with Dear Son, just a few weeks ago, wondering if I would get to take him home. We are getting to the point, where one of these times, he is not going to make it. I was hoping and praying that this would not be the time, knowing full well, that all of his time is currently “borrowed”. As the chest x-rays flip flopped, I became more worried, one day they would be worse, the next day no change and then the following day, it would be a little worse. One tell tale clue that things are generally not going well, is how long you stay in the PICU; I usually will ask how long Dear Son will be there, so I can schedule my work around it. When I asked this time, they said two weeks. Today, hospitals move you in and move you out so when you stay in the PICU you, you know you are in serious trouble.

A close up of the nightstand. I made the lampshade.

Luckily, Dear Son made it through. Once he was transferred to the Pediatric floor, I began to think about going home. Once you have been there long enough, you know the steps: PICU first, Step Down, pediatric floor then home. But there was something different this time, Dear Son was getting his new hospital bed and we had been waiting for it to be shipped. We had something to look forward to.

Looking forward to something, is not something that happens very often when you care for someone chronically ill. Your life somehow changes over the years, as his needs increase, my life as I used to know it, disappears. My life and his life become melded into one where survival for both of us, is the only goal.

Before Photo: This is what a standard hospital bed looks like when they ship it to you. Most are used and nearly all come in this awful brown color. In the first photo above, I painted the headboard and footboard black.

I remember many years back, when they recommended a hospital bed. It was very depressing. The hospital beds, most of them used, are shipped to your house. More often than not, they bill the insurance for the bed as a rental, until the purchase price is met, then it becomes yours. Yippee. Not. No one wants an ugly, used, hospital bed as their bed. And what’s worse is that the worse the patient gets, the more time you get to spend there. Not only are they ugly, but your bedroom begins to look more like a hospital room and less like a home. And that is where our new bed comes in.

Gary Owens, started Tendercare Beds, a short time ago. As a woodworker, he created a bed for his wife, Gina, who had a hospital bed of her own. With his slip on, slip off, headboards and footboards, he changed an industry. No longer are hospital beds something to be avoided, but now they are something you can have, and be proud of. It no longer matters if the insurance company only pays for a used hospital bed, because you can make it new with a Tendercare bed. You no longer have to be ashamed to get a hospital bed for your loved one. You no longer have to be ashamed to let someone see your bedroom. But most of all, you don’t have take away your kid’s bed, and replace it a hospital bed. Can you really look your child in the eye, and tell them they are going to get better, when you bring in a used hospital bed? And who looks forward to that?

But with our Tendercare bed, we were definitely looking forward to that. We had placed our order for a black, raised panel bed. It would look perfect in Dear Son’s bedroom. More important than that, he would have a “real” headboard. Not a fake, bamboo blind headboard that I made, so he would have something, but a real one. And we all know that having a “real” headboard on your bed, is good feng shui. And when you are sick, it’s important to pay attention to that.

Here is Dear Son's Tendercare bed with the side rail up. The bed remains fully functional with the slip-on headboards and footboards.

On Monday, our headboard arrived and it did not disappoint. It was absolutely beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Dear Son had a real bed. A real bed that still met his needs. I could still operate the hospital bed, raise and lower the bed, pull up the side rails, raise the head or the foot of the bed and no matter what I did, it would still look beautiful!

But the best part of all, was seeing Dear Son’s face. We had been talking about the bed for some time now. When he got the hospital bed the first time, from the durable medical equipment supplier, there was nothing to talk about. I had talked to the DME about getting him a brand new hospital bed, so we didn’t have to have an ugly used one, but that was just to make the idea of a hospital bed palatable. But this time, I could get excited about the bed and Dear Son could too! He came home from school and I wheeled his wheelchair straight into the bedroom. He looked right at his new bed and broke out in a big smile. His eyes lit up and he couldn’t stop smiling. Later, when I layed him in the bed for the first time, he looked straight up at the headboard with a big grin on his face. You could see it in his eyes, that he was happy. And that was the best part!

I called Gary to thank him for making this lovely bed for Dear Son. Gary had contacted me when he first started his business, asking me what I thought of his bed. I told him it was a fantastic idea and I thought many retailers would be happy to sell his beds. I told him that I imagined Pottery Barn and Nieman Marcus would want to carry his beds. After all, they are really nice. He made this bed especially for Dear Son and it’s the first time he used the third panel in the raised panel design. You can see this third panel on top of the raised panels on the headboard. I think this bed is just beautiful.

Note the third panel. This is the piece that is above the pillow sham. The raised panels sit behind the pillow sham.Here is a view of the headboard. You can see the two raised panels and then the third panel above. Can you believe it's a hospital bed?

Here is a picture of the head of the bed in the "raised" position. As you can see, the bed remains fully functional.

But what’s really amazing, is that he’s changed an industry. No longer do the Durable Medical Equipment (DME) providers have to sit back and wait for people to call them when they need a hospital bed. No, they can actually tell people that they have a hospital bed they will want. And therein lies the beauty of a Tendercare Bed. A Tendercare Bed is not only a bed that meets your needs, but a bed you will want. You don’t have to be ashamed to get your child this bed, or your wife this bed or your brother or sister this bed. You can order this bed and be proud. But the best part of this bed, is that when they get it, they will cry with tears of joy, not tears of sadness. Because when you get a hospital bed, that’s what used to happen, you would cry. You would cry because you lost your own bed, you would cry for what was coming ahead and you would cry for the life you were leaving behind. If you know of anyone who got a hospital bed, you will know that is true. They not only cry, they will beg you not to put them in a hospital bed. But this time is really different. Now you can cry for joy. And that’s exactly what I did when I saw Dear Son’s bed. I cried. It was beautiful.

Note: Dear Son suffers from a progressive neurological disease and intractable seizures as a result of a random mutation of the ARX gene. This mutation causes infantile spasms, dystonia and severe mental retardation.

Gary Owens is the owner of Tendercare Beds. If you would like more information or to purchase a Tendercare Bed, you can contact Tendercare Beds here.


Lois Grebowski said...

Gary did an awesome job on dear son's bed... simply awesome! He needs to advertise on hospice websites, too!

What a wonderful gift to share with those in need. it's truly about QoL and a comfy, cozy home-like bed is a big part of it!

Daisy said...

I think the headboard looks great! It looks very high quality, and masculine, too. Perfect for a young man.

Poppy Q said...

The bed is lovely and we hope that Gary does well with his business. I am sure there is a growing need for his services.

My mum had a hospital bed for 3 years, and we would have loved to be able to pretty it up for her.

Your lampshad is lovely too.

Big smooches
Julie and Poppy Q

Anne K. said...

It's beautiful. As always, you open our eyes to the small touches that make a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I'm looking at doing this for my dad who has ALS. I was wondering what size of bedspread to use to reach the floor on both sides (maybe full??)

Also, is the nightstand taller than normal nightstands? I've found my dad having trouble reaching things on the nightstand when his bed is up.

I want to make his bed up so it is as normal and disguised as possible. We all know what it is, but it just doesn't have to look like a hospital ward and he deserves all the dignity we can give him.

thank you.

Dream Mom said...

Lisa-I apologize for the delay in posting an answer to your question.

I used a twin size comforter for Dear Son's bed and it worked just fine. Dear Son's nightstand is normal size.

Good luck.

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