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Piling up the pillows

By Gillian

If Christopher’s back pain continues for much longer, we’re going to buy one of the foam wedge pillows that several people have recommended. In the mean time he’s propping himself up in bed on a pile of pillows. I thought it might be worth sharing the method my (nearly 90-year-old)  Gran learned as a nurse many decades ago for using pillows to prop someone up in bed. Good not just for people with back pain, but also if you have a cold or flu, say, and want to spend the day vegetating in bed with a good book.

My mother tried describing it over the phone to me, but I found it very difficult to visualise from her description. So she made up a pillow-support on their spare bed, and my father took photos of each of the stages and emailed them to me.  So here, courtesy of my parents, is my Gran’s method:

Step 1. Place first pillow flat on the bed. The position of this pillow relative to the headboard largely governs how steep or shallow the support is, so you may need to experiment for example by shoving middle of this bottom pillow towards the bed head or putting it at an angle if protruding out too much.

Stage 1

Step 2. Place second pillow flat on top of first or at about up to 45 degrees against wall or bed head. This step is optional if you want a flatter support.

Stage 2

Step 3 and 4. Place the third and fourth pillows diagonally, overlapping at top.

Stage 3

Stage 4

Finally, place the (optional) fifth pillow across the top if required. Chris has found it is more comfortable to use this extra pillow.

Stage 5 (optional)

It works best if the pillows are not over-firm. If the pillows are fairly ‘flat’ then it may be more comfortable to double up on the diagonal ones (stages 3 & 4), one slightly off-set behind each.

{ 4 } Comments

  1. Joan Lock | 28 April 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this, Gillian. I have always hated reading in bed because I find it so uncomfortable. This looks good.

  2. Veronica | 28 April 2010 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    This looks like an excellent solution to the problem of a cricked neck when reading in bed (one of life’s luxuries). Thank you for sharing the information, Gillian.

  3. Gillian | 28 April 2010 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Joan, Veronica – Thanks. It’s good to think that skills my Gran learned as a trainee nurse before the 2nd World War are still useful today! Though my mother has complained that if she had known I would put the photos up on our blog she would have ironed the pillow cases…..

  4. Q&J | 29 April 2010 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I’d have thought at the very least your mother would have got your father to iron them!?

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  2. […] District Nurse. Presumably, she is of a generation far too young too have been taught the “pillow method” in nursing training. It looks to me as though she has been passing the message on during her […]