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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Importance of the Chair

Personal information obtained on therapy visits is confidential. When applicable the name/location/sex/condition of persons visited may be changed to protect privacy. However, the interactions, conversations are true and did occur as written. 

Gopher, Chad, and Carla are all volunteers. They do not officially represent any institution that may be mentioned.

Chairs come in all shapes and sizes and most people I know have a favorite chair. I never rally thought much about chairs I either liked the one I was using or did not.  What seems like a lifetime ago though when I was taking therapy classes with Gopher I had my first in depth discussion regarding chairs. Now that I teach a class, I am leading the discussion of chairs, never thought growing up, or throughout school I would spend any amount of time talking about furnishings, but here I am.

Chairs have come to the forefront of my mind when entering a facility, a new home or anywhere we may be visiting. All of the furnishings, equipment and more are important and I look at all of them , but nothing has the importance of the chair.

When Carol, my instructor brought up doing chair work, teaching Gopher to get up into a variety of different chairs slowly and comfortably I scoffed.  Gopher is a Golden Retriever, he weighs 65 lbs and is 2 ft at the withers he will never need a chair for someone to reach him. Being a diligent student and also it was a bit to see Gopher get into a chair and sit regally as if he was on a throne.

So we worked, padded chairs at first, then the more difficult slippery unpadded chairs, and folding chairs that required me to brace them before giving him the indication to get up.

I am glad we spent so much time working on it as it has utilized on countless occasions. Our patients have been able to get just a little bit closer, and get the pleasure of the golden lean despite the wires and equipment.

Our chair work has come in handy, but more so on a recent visit. Gopher and I have been visiting a patient for some time who is in end of life care. We visit every other week, and she absolutely loves her time with Gopher. I have even written about our visits with this patient in Marge.

Over the months since I recorded that visit with Marge she has grown weaker and in our last few visits I have had to bring a wooden folding chair to facilitate our visits. I get Gopher in position and Marge buries her head in his golden fur taking in his warm smell. She strokes him all over and Gopher sits in his chair, patient and regally. Adding the chair has allowed us to stick with the 30 minute visits as it is not as exhausting for her to visit with him.

On our most recent visit Marge immediately told Gopher how tired she was that day. I put Gopher in his chair, and Marge leaned in buried her face and wrapped her arms around him. Gopher leaned in and wrapped his head around her neck, hugging her back. There they stayed for the entirety of the visit. Neither of them moved a muscle and no more words were spoken.

It was a beautiful moment and reminded me of the importance of a chair.

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