Some days begin with spilled urine, and end with a punch to the groin. It's a lesson I didn't expect to learn at this stage of life, and yet, here we are.
In July 2021, my father-in-law suffered a traumatic brain injury and subsequent stroke. While he has made an impressive recovery for his age (now 87), he still requires 24-hour care and quite a bit of assistance with his daily activities (getting in and out of bed, using a walker, using a sit-to-stand lifter, etc.). He also has a feeding tube and a permanent catheter.
My mother-in-law, a retired nurse, cares for my father-in-law at home. Recently, she had knee replacement surgery and was unable to care for him on her own safely during the first six weeks of recovery. So, my husband and I, along with one of his aunts, took "shifts" to cover his care. My husband and I only saw each other at "shift changes" for most of that time, as he typically took the overnight shift, and I took the morning shift. Don't get me wrong, I was more than happy to do it, but it did put a strain on all of us.
One morning, as I emptied my father-in-law's urine drainage bag, I made a silly mistake and ended up spilling urine on their bedroom floor. That set the tone for the rest of the day. Later that same morning, another careless mistake led to some of his nutritional formula ending up in his lap rather than down his feeding tube. The real blooper came that evening, however, when I was detaching his "leg bag" to swap it out for the larger urine drainage bag that he uses overnight. The tubing was extra tight, causing me to tug harder than usual, and when it finally came loose my fist flew straight toward the family jewels (fortunately his diaper protected him). My mother-in-law, who has the patience of a saint, kindly showed me a better technique to avoid any future incidents.
After that blunder-filled day, I remember thinking that things could only get better from there. And, for the most part, they did. We all fell into a routine, and I grew more confident in taking care of both of my husband's parents. But then, about two weeks ago, my husband's appendix ruptured. That was a very, very bad day. It's not an exaggeration to say I almost lost him.
He was in the hospital just over a week, and he continues to fight off an abdominal abscess. There have been many moments throughout this time that I found myself scared and on the verge of falling apart. But I mustered up every ounce of internal strength I had (and some I never knew I had) and forced myself to be his rock for a change.
This entire experience, from caring for my in-laws to witnessing my husband's agonizing recovery from acute appendicitis, has taught me a valuable lesson: There's just no use crying over spilled urine. Because just when you think things can't possibly get worse, they inevitably will, and the only way to get through it is to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
It's a lesson that the medical device industry might also benefit from. I can't help but reflect on what the past two and a half years have been like for medical device manufacturers of all sizes. MD+DI saw a lot of promising companies struggle to stay afloat during the height of the pandemic when canceled and delayed surgical procedures put immense pressure on medical device revenue. To this day we're seeing medtech manufacturers of all sizes battle the many ripple effects of COVID-19, such as global supply chain disruptions and hospital staffing shortages.
I'm not a medical device executive, and I don't have a board or investors to answer to. But I thought sharing my recent experiences might help to put things into perspective for medical device professionals who just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and remind yourself to focus on the problems that are within your control and take everything else one day at a time.