University of Southern California Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Helen

Helen

Helen got a spinal cord injury in 1964, when she was 21 years old. She was shot. She drank and took drugs both before and after she was injured. Because Helen wasn't looking after her body, she got a number of pressure ulcers (which is what a doctor or nurse calls pressure sores or bedsores). With her boyfriend's help, she got clean and sober, and her health improved. But when her father, aunt, and boyfriend died very close together, Helen was very sad. She stopped taking care of herself and she got more pressure ulcers. Eventually, Helen found a balance in her life.

Read more about Helen in these articles...

Helen got hurt 40 years ago. She has had a lot of pressure ulcers in her life. She has learned a lot from her experiences. Now Helen has a sense about her body. She has a good helper named Marsha. This is what Helen said about her sense of her body:

"You know, after being so many years a 'quad,' I'm pretty well familiar with my body. So when something is bothering me, I usually know where it's at, 'cause I can feel it. I can feel pressure. Or I tell Marsha, 'Marsha, it's hurting me over here.' She'll go over there, 'Yeah, you're right. It's getting red,' or something like that. It's like your body lets you know. Again, after so many years, you're in tune with your body, you know what's going on, because everything happens for a reason. Your feet twitch or your arms or whatever, it's for a reason. That's something. So when you feel that, don't just ignore it. Check it out!"

Helen is right. Listen to your body. Check it out!

→ read more in Listening to Your Body

Helen and Robert, drank and partied a lot after their spinal cord injuries. When Helen and Robert got older, they got clean and sober. They both felt more healthy when they got sober, and they felt closer to their families. They were able to make better choices when they got sober.

→ read more in Drinking or Doing Drugs

Helen drank too much when she was young. Partying can help cause pressure ulcers. Helen got a lot of pressure ulcers. Helen's boyfriend helped her get clean and sober. Helen stopped getting so many pressure ulcers.

→ read more in Now I Get It!

Helen's boyfriend really loved her. He worried about how much she was drinking. He worried because she got a lot of pressure ulcers. Helen's boyfriend helped her get clean and sober. She was much healthier after that.

→ read more in Dating and Marriage

Your partner can also be a good support. Helen got clean and sober when her boyfriend told her how much her partying was hurting her health.

→ read more in Friends and Family

Helen smoked when she was young and partied a lot. Her friends smoked, too. She quit drinking, but she still smokes.

→ read more in Smoking

Helen went out partying with her friends when she was young. She liked to hang out with them. Helen didn't want to tell them "no, thanks." She stayed out all night on her birthday. It was too long to stay up in her wheelchair. Helen had a new pressure ulcer on her bottom in the morning.

→ read more in Dating and Marriage

When she was younger, Helen went out with her friends to party a lot. On her birthday, they even stayed out all night. In the morning, Helen got a pressure ulcer the size of an egg!

→ read more in Friends and Family, Drinking or Doing Drugs and Don't Overdo It

Gary and Mitch both did a lot of hanging out with friends, without remembering about pressure reliefs. They both got pressure ulcers. So did Helen when she was a young woman and liked to party.

→ read more in Doing Things

Helen had a very sad year. Her father died. Her aunt died. Her boyfriend died. Helen had to take care of business when they all died. She spent a long time up in her wheelchair each day. She stopped taking care of her skin. Helen stopped taking pressure off her skin. She got a pressure ulcer.

→ read more in Life Events, Doing Things and Things You Can't Control

Alley, Billy, Helen and Rachel thought, "It's no big deal." Their pressure ulcers got really bad. They all got very sick. The next time, they knew better!

→ read more in "It Just Happened"

People who have already had a pressure ulcer understand that anybody can get a pressure ulcer. In other words, experience is the best teacher! Many people who helped with this project, including Alley, Brenda, Chris, and Helen, would probably agree.

→ read more in Learning How to Take Care of Your Skin

Everyone's body changes as they get older. Skin changes, too. When skin gets older, it's easier to get a pressure ulcer. Two of the people who helped with this project, Dave and Helen, got more pressure ulcers as they got older.

→ read more in Skin Getting Older

When you get older, your skin has a harder time healing. It's easier to get a pressure ulcer when you are older. Alley, Dave, Helen and Mitch all got pressure ulcers when they got older.

→ read more in Things You Can't Control

When you have a surgery, you get a scar. You can't avoid it. It's easy to get a pressure ulcer on a scar. Helen and Ken both got pressure ulcers on old scars.

→ read more in Things You Can't Control

Old injuries or surgeries can leave a scar. Scars are not healthy skin. A new pressure ulcer can start on an old scar. Helen, Ken and Tom all got new pressure ulcers on old scars.

→ read more in Skin Getting Older

Helen, Ken and Odel said they listened to their bodies. They said they could tell when it was time to take pressure off their skin.

→ read more in Now I Get It!

Sometimes doing something you like to do can help you feel like things are under control. Helen learned to paint. It became very important in her life. Because she liked painting, Helen got a job working for free in a museum.

→ read more in Confusion and Disorder

Pick things to do that are really important to you. Helen learned to paint, like her father and son, then worked as a museum tour guide.

→ read more in Doing Things

Alma, Helen and Odel all paint.

→ read more in Don't Overdo It

Helen had a helper who stole jewelry from her. The helper Helen has now is really good.

Helen had the same helper for years. She became good friends with her helper. Helen's helper does chores when she has to stay home in bed.

→ read more in Caregivers and Helpers

Helen pays Marsha to be her helper. Marsha has worked for Helen for many years. They are good friends. Marsha knows all about Helen's skin. Marsha can really help Helen take good care of her skin.

→ read more in Dating and Marriage

Sometimes friends or family can give you a good reason to do something new. Helen called her friend Claudia her "cruising buddy" because they went together to art classes and the museum.

→ read more in Friends and Family

You can still do things from bed. Helen rests in bed for a day to build up strength. It also lets her skin rest. That way, Helen prevents pressure ulcers. Helen uses the time to catch up on chores. Helen tells her helper the chores she wants her to do.

→ read more in Home Care

Helen and Judy both healed pressure ulcers by staying in bed when they saw a spot on their skin. When Helen stays home in bed, she uses the time to ask her caregivers and helpers to do chores around the house. That way, she doesn't overdo it. She still gets things done. Helen stays productive.

→ read more in Don't Overdo It

Lotion keeps skin from cracking. Helen puts on lotion every day when she gets dressed.

Helen rests in bed for a day to build up strength. She uses the time to catch up on chores. Helen tells her helper the chores she wants her to do.

Some people "listen to their bodies" to know when to move. Helen gets a sense of when to move.

→ read more in Things to Do to Take Care of Your Skin

You might get a sense of when to move. That means paying attention to your body. Your body might "tell" you it wants to take pressure off! Helen says she gets a sense of when to move.

→ read more in Taking Pressure Off Your Skin