Our Home Is a Potential Danger Zone
We live in a house with hardwood floors and three flights of wooden stairs. For my wife, Jill, who is gene-positive for Huntington’s, and our dog, this setup is a danger zone.
Let me explain.
The floors are beautiful, but they are slippery. We are reminded of how slippery every time our 13-year-old cocker spaniel, Baby Girl, runs in the house. It is difficult for her to gain traction, so as a result, her paws skitter along the surface every time she pushes off or tries to stop. It reminds me of someone trying to run on ice. Her back legs also slip a lot whenever she tries to climb the stairs.
Little did we realize that we also should have been concerned about Jill.
One night, as she was coming down the stairs while holding some laundry, she slipped and almost tumbled. Thank goodness she didn’t actually fall, but it made us realize we needed to find solutions sooner rather than later.
The next morning, we went shopping to look for items that would make the stairs and floors safer for Jill and our dog.
For the stairs, we eventually settled on clear, sticker-like strips of textured plastic called anti-slip adhesive treads. The texture makes it easier for one’s feet — or paws — to “grip” each stair.
Next, we had to find the perfect rugs. Because she has sensory issues, Jill struggles with certain textures, so we knew we would need plush rugs that felt soft. Although we found some, Jill looked sad on the drive home.
I asked why.
She said she realized that one day, no matter what home safety measures we take, walking up and down stairs will become extremely dangerous for her. As her Huntington’s worsens, the twitching, jerky movements of her legs and body, known as chorea, will make her extremely unsteady on her feet. Even a plush rug could represent a minefield given the poor coordination and balance associated with the disease.
We cried as the thought sunk in. We try our best not to think about the future. We try not to worry about how her life will change because of the devastating nature of Huntington’s. But sometimes, when reality hits, the sadness makes life seem overwhelming.
When that occurs, we let the sadness rush over us. We hug. We cry. We give thanks for what we have, and for what is not yet lost. And then we dig our heels in for the long battle ahead.
Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.