Friday, February 8, 2013

Arranging Your Life When Everything Goes to HEALTH!

Arrange2Live was started in 2009 by Seattle family doctor Linda Gromko, MD, and Interior Designer Jane C. McClure. Arrange2Live grew out of an important need.

Dr. Gromko's husband Steve fell headlong into Acute Kidney Failure in September 2007. Steve had two choices: a kidney transplant or kidney dialysis (the kidney machine). There was, of course, the option of no treatment - but that would mean certain death for this husband and father of a teenaged daughter.

Steve and Linda eagerly embraced the technology of Home Dialysis - treatments that could be done on their own time and on their own terms. But nothing could have prepared them for the onslaught of medical supplies that descended upon their home, making it feel more like a medical clinic or an ICU!

The portable dialysis machine, upper left, is swallowed up by
boxes of supplies. And we learned that blue underpads change a home forever!

Home Dialysis - while life saving - was taking over, consuming their lives and redefining their family as one tethered to illness. Even worse, Linda and Steve were trying to sell their home! They knew the master bedroom with it's wall of supplies and dialysis machine couldn't work as "selling features."

That's when Interior Designer Jane McClure saved the day. Jane "staged" the home for real estate sale. She organized the chaos and made the home look and feel beautiful. What a difference!

During the project, Linda, Steve and Jane made some important realizations about  health care in the home:
  • Bringing medical equipment into the home can change family dynamics. Rather than husband and wife, Steve and Linda began to feel like patient and health care provider.
  • Visible medical equipment says "disease is the theme of our lives."
  • Kids - especially teenagers - may find medical equipment scary. Certainly, it makes them feel different from their peers.
  • The bedroom evaporates as a place of intimacy, replaced by a high-tech sick room.
But after a simple, inexpensive "mini-makeover," Steve and Linda were able to reframe their view:
  • Dialysis joins the family, but doesn't define it.
  • A chronic medical condition requires careful attention, but it doesn't have to overtake your life altogether.
  • Kids can bring friends home without feeling self-conscious.
  • The bedroom returns to its place of peace and rest - critical when life already feels like it's in the blender!
Linda and Jane organized their observations and ideas into their book, Arranging Your Life When Dialysis Comes Home: The Underwear Factor. The first book of its kind and a 2012 Global eBook Award winner, it can be inexpensively purchased on in both paperback and Kindle versions.

But Arrange2Live doesn't stop with Home Dialysis.

Frankly, Linda and Jane felt if they could "master" an environment for Home Dialysis, they could try just about anything. And in the course of the past few years, they've branched out to broader challenges:
  • Adapting a safe and comfortable bedroom environment for a couple when one of them developed a terminal brain tumor
  • Creating a "dorm room" for a fully disabled husband on dialysis, and caregiver wife (Linda and Steve, before his death in 2011)
  • Moving Linda's 95-year-old Mom into the safety of Assisted Living, creating a beautiful space with furniture and furnishings from her home of 50 years.
Linda and Jane have gathered literally hundreds of tricks that make life easier and more comfortable when health care comes home.

Let's face it: as we mature, we're all far more likely to face these issues. Thinking ahead with an eye for function and design will help us Arrange2Live well.

Join us as we Arrange2Live!
Linda Gromko, MD & Jane C. McClure

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