So for folks with BJHS, or any disease that causes nerve pain in the feet, a blanket support is one of the paramount ways to relieve pain. As my disease worsened, I began to find the weight of my blankets on my toes nearly unbearable. First, there’s the stabbing pain in my big toe joints. Then, there’s the dreaded parasthesia, which is a tingling/numbness/pain in the extremities. Imagine you’ve sat on your foot strangely and caused it to go numb. You know the feeling you get as it wakes up? I have that feeling in my toes, all the time.
For a while, I just wore heavy socks to bed and kicked my feet out, but frankly, the pressure of the socks wasn’t pleasant for that many hours. Finally, I discovered blanket supports, or as we call them: bed tents.
These are essentially u-shaped supports that slide under the mattress and hold up the blankets off my toes. They are wonderful in theory, but so far, I’m on my third one in as two years, because in practice they are often poorly made or badly designed.
I started with the one that I’m sure most folks buy first, an adjustable “clamp” style support like this one:
There are thumb clamps on the bottom so you can raise and lower the bar. Unfortunately, they quickly started lowering on their own due to the weight of our blankets. The support wasn’t very high off the mattress to begin with, which didn’t make the lowering thing any better. The supports were flimsy as well, and leaned over once the blankets were on. Eventually, even with small clamps from my boyfriend’s workshop on the bars, it broke for good.
Next I moved on to a more substantial, PVC piping made support. This support is made by a small mom-and-pop company, so I’m not going to give them bad press by name. I’m simply going to say: there’s only one place selling these, so it should be easy to avoid them. These are composed of several lengths of PVC piping joined with plumber’s joints and drilled so that the height can be adjusted with screws inserted at various “stops.” The folks who sent it lovingly wrap each one in a pretty home-sewn damask bag and are obviously committed to making a useful product. The only problem was that I don’t sleep by myself: I sleep with a blanket twister.
I am someone who lies in exactly the same position all night long. I never thrash, even when I roll over. I get up in the morning, twitch the covers back into place, and I’m good to go. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is the king of the thrash. The first thing he does upon getting into bed is to kick all the covers off his feet, and roll the rest of his body into the blankets, which he jerks around and twitches all over the place. By the time I get into bed, I have to readjust them, sometimes prying them off of him in order to have covers for myself! All this twisting about was the death of the second blanket support. It failed right at the joints for the parts that slipped under the mattress. First one side went, and I duct-taped it back together. Then the other side failed spectacularly. Too much torque.
So I had to order a new one. I was annoyed by this, as these supports run between $35-40 with shipping.
I have been waiting over a week, due to the holidays, with stacks of pillows under the blanket providing a bit of relief. Though this works in a pinch, or a hotel room, I don’t love the solution as I can never get the pillows very high and so I have to sleep all night with my ankles rolled to one side. If I roll over on my side, I often find the pressure on whichever big toe is unlucky enough to be touching anything too much to take. I was very happy to see the new blanket support arrive.
This one is from Amazon.com, by a company called TFI. It’s made of steel, so I’m hoping it will last longer. It uses two bent pipe loops connected by two pipes drilled with holes. The bent pipes have push buttons on them. Even on the smallest setting (when the two bent pipes meet inside the drilled pipes, and annoyingly the buttons can’t quite pop out at this point, but it doesn’t really matter), it’s very high. Probably more high than I would like. I am not, however, going to cut the pipes down, though someone else probably could with some simple tools.
I’m really hoping this one holds up. It seems virtually indestructible, but then I would have said that about the PVC one. Only time will tell how well it survives The Blanket Twister!
For the moment, my feet are already happy to see it.