Want to keep living in the house they built
Andrea Elisabeth and husband Tore Andreas live together in a house they built in 1984. This is where they’ve spent the greater part of their adult lives. 15 years ago, they considered moving into an apartment instead, but decided to keep living in the house.
- “Once you get up the stairs, it’s so practical because everything we use is on the same floor, and we really like it here.”
One day, Andrea Elisabeth started experiencing a loss of sensation. When someone touched her foot, she didn’t notice. This was caused by neuropathy.
- “Walking up the stairs, I noticed, became very difficult.”
She would hang over the railing and pull herself up.
- “It was a problem. It came to be that you’d dread going up or down the stairs.”
When her local occupational therapist came to her house to consider potentially beneficial home modifications, Andrea Elisabeth asked how she could make accommodations to the stairs.
Many people decide to get a stair lift when walking between floors becomes too difficult, but she didn’t want this.
- “That would be going too far. I want to be on my feet as much as possible.”
To her, staying active is important. And it’s crucial in order to maintain her ability to walk.
Andrea Elisabeth has joined a training group, which has several weekly meetings together with a physical therapist in order for the members to stay fit. The ladies of the group enjoy each other’s company so much they have an additional monthly gathering purely for fun.
Getting the AssiStep stair walker
She recalled reading about the stair walker AssiStep in a magazine, and wondered whether this could be an alternative to a stair lift. Her occupational therapist arranged for her to try it out, and helped her through the process of getting one. Shortly thereafter, she had an AssiStep stair walker installed in the stairs at home, and has now already been using it for a year.
- “It’s so easy now! And if you had kept on hanging over that railing I’m sure you’d feel the effect of the uneven load on your back eventually,” Tore Andreas interjects.
- “Yes, and on my hips, shoulders and I don’t know what,” Andrea Elisabeth replies. “And I’m certain it helped that you as an engineer has looked at it, finding it to look adequate, and even using it yourself.”
- “Yes, it has proper parts and components, and even works well as a railing for those who otherwise walk stairs without trouble.”
- “I think this is a solution we can have for many, many years,” Andrea Elisabeth concludes.
“I think this is a solution we can have for many, many years”
Creating new memories
The couple have been married for an impressive 52 years, and the past contains many good memories for them. Still, creating new ones is important. So when Tore Andreas goes out trail orienteering, they find ways for Andrea Elisabeth to join him. Despite her neuropathy making walking a challenge for her.
She goes out on her four-wheeler on the forest road, and then they meet on certain spots. One stops and waits for the other, before they continue. This way they can experience nature together.
She doesn’t let her neuropathy keep her back. And with the help of a few aides and adjustments to make everyday life simpler, everything gets so much better.
- “When I have my walker to support myself walking, I race from one end of the house to the other in a moment.”
What is neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is not a single illness, but a group of conditions occurring due to damage or irritation to peripheral nerves (and not to the brain or spinal cord as with multiple sclerosis).
The symptoms vary depending on which nerves are affected. One might experience a lack of sensation, burning pain, sharp sudden pain, paralyzation, muscle atrophy, being overly sensitive to touch, or lack of any sensation if the nerve fibers are fully destroyed.
Treatment is focused on uncovering underlying causes and treating them. If the underlying cause can be treated, the affected nerves will usually recover, but this is typically a long process. Physical therapy is frequently part of the treatment, to preserve optimal function and muscle strength, as well as reducing pain and other symptoms.