I had this same experience with my wife 8 years ago. Our lives have now changed to the point that they are the new normal. But I remember those first days. It was terribly confusing because it is a whole change to your life.
Depending on the level of the spinal cord injury (can you tell us what it was?) your father will ahve certain abilities he will retain, and others he will lose, and perhaps soem he will regain with time and therapy. Also, a lot depends on your financial state. There are a lot of advisers out ther and each case is different.
When my wife was injured I began a path of learning, and I did a lot of up front investigation to find out who and what could help. I have folders full of dead ends, and a closet full of bad equipment that worked for others but not for her. Her are some things to look into right away:
- You will not be able to care for your dad completely on your own. If he has insurance, you can get some day care assistance. We hire a person who comes in for my wife every day, and we pay them out of pocket, and fill out all the paperwork as we are now domestic employers. You can hire an agency to do that for you, but they charge about double what you can get somebody to do it for if you are willing to do the hiring and paperwork.
- If you belong to a church, they are usually quick to jump in and help. there are folks there who are retired, or even youth groups who simply live to help others. Don't be afraid to ask. When my wife was first injured, we had a daily rotation of ladies from the church who came over to assist until we got on our feet. They did cleaning, meals, etc. When the normal sinks in, they will not last, but the temporary help is priceless while you get on your feet.
- Most states have an assistance program that helps folks who get injured in car accidents. In Texas it is called DARS, and they will provide funds to buy things and even rehabilitation services that insurance will not cover. They work with the insurance company, wheelchair vendors, etc. to make everythign come out right.
- You will need to find a good PMR doctor, and stick with them. That stands for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Usually these people will find their way to your father while he is in the hospital. Be careful not to get one who simply likes to prescribe drugs. We have ejected two previous ones who had that attitude. As a result, my wife is currently drug-free except when she gets the normal illnesses.
- Get him in a starter SCI rehab facility. they will show you and prepare you for what he is going to need according to his level of injury. He will become his own encyclopedia of what has to be done so he can direct any help to avoid some of the new things he will have to deal with. They educate you for this.
- SCI patients dump a massive amount of calcium immediately after their injury. They don't know why, but it is a fact. It causes Osteoporosis, and kidney stones within the first couple of years. Be prepared for either or both. Get your father on a diet and supplements to increase bone mass, as well as in a standing frame to keep the loads on his bones. That drives calcium uptake in the bones and keeps him prepared for recovery.
- Find a good rehab center to get him into that allows use of a gymnasium. In Austin, we use one at Health Soufh that allows use of a Functional electircal Stimulation (FES) bike that keeps muscle mass up by shocking the muscles in a pattern that makes them ride a bike with their own muscles. Phenomenal for cardio workout.
- Whatever you do, keep the exercise up- that is the main thing he now needs.
- Be prepared for Skin problems (from sitting in the same spot all the time), bladder infections (unless he has bladder control he will use a catherter, and it comes with the territory). We use cream of tartar made into a tea, and have now avoided bladder inrfections for two years. It can be bought in a grocery store. KEEP ANYBODY AWAY that has a cold. the last thing a quad needs is a cold. You will learn why I say that.
- Get him out of the hsopital as soon as you can and keep him out of hospitals whenever you possibly can . Use them only for emergencies. Hospitals are pits of infestation ,a dn give infections every time you are in one. I do not allow nurses to touch my wife- I keep a caregiver ther at all times to be certain they wash before any contact. And I have sigend several "Against Medical Advice" forms to get her out of the hospital and home where we have the euqipment to care for her.
- Be prepared to lose a lot of the help who start out with good intentions. Mosat people do not realize what the involvement is and a desire to help can quickly wane when they see what is really invovled. Also be prepared to get own with your own life. You did not indicate your age, but unless you are already married, you cannot let your father's injury become yours. That is the main reason to get others involved as I have discussed.
- There will have a heavy buyrden from Insurance to get through. Not sure what Obamacare is going to do to that, but your father will soon be on Social Security and Medicare if he is not already. At his work, if he had short-term and long-term care that should cover before those kick in. Check into those.
- Also, check his life insurance policy. Many have disability clauses that pay out when a person is disabled .
- Don't forget to sit down with your auto insurance company to see what they take care of.
- Be prepared for his health insurance company to "subrogate" much of what you might receive from the auto insurance claim. Their coverage allows them to do that. They put themselves first-named on recovery of any funds to cover what they have to pay for at the hospital.
- Do not go after the other person for vengence, but DO go after their insurance to get a settlement. Get a lawyer to help with that. I don't like lawyers, but sometimes they are necessary. Oh- and jkeep those lawyers away from your doctors if you want to continue to get great medical help... just a hint. Doctors and lawyers are not a good paring.
That's a good starting point. There's a lot more. I could write a book, but simply don't have time because I work every day. Don't be afraid to ask others. This is new to all of us and technology and medical discoveries are helping more every day.
I thougth about just offering my symapthies for your position (I certainly do feel for your plight), but you have a lot of things to do. Get cracking and things will get better. Better to stay busy when these things are going on. So, I thought it best to give some technical guidance. Hope it helps.