University of Southern California Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Howard got a spinal injury in 1999, when he was 60 years old. He was injured when he fell from a ladder while painting a house. He said that up to that point he'd had "an easy, soft life." Howard's easygoing way of life didn't help him. He didn't get good care for his skin in nursing homes, and didn't speak up for himself very well. Howard's sister Zoe taught herself how to look after him, but Howard's pressure ulcers (which is what a doctor or nurse calls pressure sores or bedsores) came back when Zoe went away on vacation.

Read more about Howard in these articles...

Howard's doctors helped him get used to sitting in his wheelchair. Then it was time for Howard to leave the hospital. Howard went to a nursing home. He needed to go in his wheelchair every day. The workers in the nursing home didn't put Howard in his wheelchair. They neglected him. Howard couldn't sit in the wheelchair for a long time anymore.

→ read more in Things That Can Go Wrong with Your Health

Sometimes having a bad experience with a doctor makes you so unhappy or angry that you don't want to go back. For example, Howard got a pressure ulcer when the staff at his nursing home didn't think he needed to be turned because he had an air mattress. After that bad experience, Howard and his family decided to find him a new nursing home, because he wasn't getting the care he needed.

→ read more in Getting Health Care

Howard lived in a nursing home. The rules said people don't have to go in their wheelchair each day. Howard could sit in his wheelchair for 5 hours when came to the nursing home. It is called sitting tolerance when you can sit longer. They didn't put Howard in his wheelchair every day. Howard lost his sitting tolerance!

Howard also had an air mattress. The nursing home said they didn't have to turn Howard because of the air mattress. This isn't true! Howard got a pressure ulcer!

→ read more in When You Don't Live in a Home

Howard had a bad pressure ulcer. His sister Zoe talked to his nurses. Zoe asked how to change Howard's bandages. That way, Zoe could help take care of Howard.

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Howard had trouble getting a cab or van that could take his wheelchair to the doctor's office.

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Howard lived at a nursing home. He needed van service to go to the doctor. The van service only ran on some days. You had to call the van service 10 days before you needed to go. You had to call again the night before to tell them you still wanted them. The van would not come if you did not follow all these rules. It was hard for Howard to get a van when he needed it!

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Howard had some very bad problems. He was in a city hospital.

For 12 hours, Howard was very sick. He couldn't breathe or make bowel movements. He threw up green liquid. The nurses did not call the doctor! No one spoke up for Howard. Howard's sister Zoe came to visit him. She got very worried. She screamed for help! The doctors came to Howard when Zoe screamed. They moved him to the intensive care unit (ICU). He got help when someone spoke up for him. The story ended with sadness. It was too late to help Howard. He had a heart attack when he was in ICU. He died.

→ read more in Speaking Up For Yourself