Bedbaths & Beyond
So here we’re: 2019 and 14 years down the spinal twine damage line. The place does the time go?! It looks like solely yesterday once I was lying helplessly in my mattress in HDU, being rolled back and forth because the nurses bed bathed me and I questioned to myself why they all the time seemed to take so long washing my again (seems they weren’t just washing my back)! Months later I might be discharged to my mother and father home, full with probably the most rudimentary set of wheelchair expertise, and nearly capable of wash and gown my prime half, but little or no else.
As my mother and father house wasn’t constructed with wheelchair accessibility in mind, I stagnated in this primary state for around 18 months, until a flat turned obtainable nearby. As soon as moved in, I spent the subsequent yr or so exploring methods of getting round my incapacity and regaining my independence. This began off with simple issues like getting dressed/undressed, showering myself, utilizing the bathroom and so on, before regularly shifting onto things akin to transferring in and out of a automotive, taking my chair apart, cooking and the like (though how much cooking you possibly can truly do with a microwave oven and plug-in, electric hob is very debatable!)
Finding success in each considered one of these processes was very much right down to trial and error, having to experiment and explore every potential avenue so as to discover the one that labored greatest for me and my particular damage (no spinal twine damage is identical in any case). For the longest time, before I found this, as a way to get toothpaste out of the tube I might suck it out. I didn’t have the individual hand perform that may permit me to squeeze it out while holding the comb, and if I sat my toothbrush down and used two palms, most of the time the comb would roll onto its aspect sooner or later, smearing paste throughout. So as an alternative, twice a day I might sit and casually suck a white substance into my mouth, now let’s all transfer on like the mature adults we’re…
By Hook or By Criminal
An integral part of this basic experimenting got here in the form of finding and utilising gadgets to help me obtain my objectives. These could possibly be function made incapacity aids similar to a monkey pole hanging over my bed to help me sit up and pull myself around, straightforward use nail clippers, or jar/can/packet openers and cutlery grips. Nevertheless they might just as easily be everyday gadgets, repurposed to work as disability aids.
Before I was discharged from hospital in 2005, a employees member gave me what appeared like a big safety pin that might historically be utilized in embroidery or some sort of crafting I presume. They knew that I was struggling to do up buttons on trousers and shirts and thought that I could possibly use this item as some sort of looped hooking gadget that I might insert by means of the button gap, hook round the button and then pull back by means of the opening. And it labored like a allure! I used this repurposed crafting hook each day for many years, and although I picked up function made button aids and ultimately worked out a approach of doing buttons up by hand, this little magnificence nonetheless resides in a drawer next to my mattress in case of button related emergencies!
This proved to be the primary of many subsequent occasions when an everyday merchandise was repurposed and put to make use of as a incapacity assist in my neverending battle for independence:
- A wire coathanger was straightened out to develop into an extended attain hooking system that I might use to grab things that had both fallen or been placed in areas I couldn’t access, similar to underneath desks, between tight spaces and so on. I even used it to hook onto and pull down things on the prime of my wardrobe, similar to luggage and suitcases, though be ready to catch (or at the least act as a security internet for) whatever you pull down!
- The leather, fingerless weightlifting gloves I used for pushing typically doubled up as cutlery grips, where I’d slot the knife and fork down the aspect of my index finger and into the glove, holding them in place as I ate.
- I’d get cut up ring keyring hoops hooked up to the zips of all my rucksacks, carry luggage and suitcases, enabling me to put my finger by means of them and zip/unzip them with ease.
These are just some examples of how I repurposed and used on a regular basis gadgets as disability aids through the years. In fact I’m not saying that these have been all my very own unique concepts, I’m not the wheelchair MacGyver! But with a mixture of artistic drawback solving, looking online and chatting to buddies who might have comparable struggles, I found that it was typically potential to create my own solutions. They could not have appeared glamorous or professional, but dammit they labored! You’ve received to keep in mind that this was back in the dead of night ages, before corporations like Lively Arms have been shaped, when nearly all of disability aids have been made for many who might grip the gadgets. It’s all good and properly having a reacher/grabber, but when you might want to function it by squeezing the handle & trigger collectively, then it’s utterly ineffective for anybody with limited grip! If only there was one obtainable that you simply operated together with your wrist…
The Clammy Kitchen Conundrum
Anyway, quick ahead to summer time 2017; I transfer out of my flat and into a home, full with ramped entrance, via flooring raise, and wet room, plus an actual oven and set of 5 fuel hobs!! I was both literally and figuratively cooking on fuel!
You might be wondering why I’m focussing on the cooking facet of things right here or, extra doubtless, chances are you’ll just need me to get to the flipping point! Properly right here it is: Above my hobs sits an extractor fan to suck away all the steam (and occassionally smoke!) that comes out of whatever culinary “delight” I may be cooking up. Sadly, the controls for the fan are situated on the front of it, a great 50+cm out of my sitting attain.
So for the subsequent 18 months the extractor fan sat nearly unused, until I was cooking with an able-bodied pal or member of the family. Virtually each day I might use the hobs to prepare dinner or heat issues up, and virtually day-after-day the kitchen windows would steam up and condensation would trickle down them, onto the sills. Every few months, often coinciding with my cooking by accident setting off the smoke alarm, I might search online for a wheelchair button pusher, prodder or poker; however to no avail. I should point out here that I do know you will get lowered extractor followers or ones with distant controls, however I don’t know, it simply someway appeared mistaken to spend lots of of pounds replacing a wonderfully good fan simply because I couldn’t reach the damn thing! I’m not what you’d name, flush with money, and it wasn’t prefer it was creating a huge problem for me, I just had a little bit of a sweaty kitchen!
Then in the future I had a bit of an epiphany. An concept that would clear up my clammy kitchen conundrum. So I popped onto Amazon, discovered what I was on the lookout for and positioned my order. And when it arrived the subsequent day, I was ready for motion…
Sure, the reply to my pusher/prodder/poker drawback got here in the form of the OG mobility assist, the granddaddy of them all – The Walking Stick!
Now I do know what some individuals shall be considering at this level: “Well duh, I can’t believe it took you a year and a half to think of this”, or perhaps, “So…you bought a stick? Congratulations”, and both are legitimate factors. Perhaps it should have dawned on me sooner to assume outdoors the box. However I used to be so focussed on on the lookout for a objective made answer, that I didn’t assume to think about different prospects. And perhaps it doesn’t look like that huge of a deal to some individuals. In any case, there are far greater issues in life than having a steamy kitchen. However to me it was about overcoming another small hurdle to keep on proving to myself that every drawback my disability might throw at me has a solution.
Where There’s A Wheel, There’s A Approach!
The general level I’ve been making an attempt to make in this entry is that no matter what disability you could have, you will all the time be introduced with problems to be solved. Ever because the first individual determined to stroll with assistance from a stick with a view to take some strain off their aching physique hundreds of years in the past, we’ve got been creating solutions for disabilities. Fortunately we reside in a time now the place mobility shops are widespread place in cities, and online shops supply an enormous number of disability aids for nearly each facet of life, so we need to do little or no drawback fixing of our own. Thank god someone invented the wheelchair and marketed it to the plenty, in any other case I’d in all probability be getting piggybacked in all places!
Nevertheless, there’ll nonetheless be the occasional oddity, a problem that feels extra particular than generic perhaps, that needs that little bit extra thought placing into it as a way to provide you with an answer. This might contain repurposing an already present family item, giving a brand new use to an present disability help, or perhaps even arising with your personal invention – there’s a answer for every little thing. And when you can’t find what you’re in search of in shops or on-line, it just means it hasn’t been invented yet!
Rob Smith was faced with just such a dilemma after his damage, when he found that there wasn’t anything out there to help with the shortage of grip in his palms. So he developed the Basic Objective Gripping Help and shaped The Lively Arms Firm which has now been solving disability related issues worldwide for over a decade!
However what about you guys? Have any of you provide you with any ingenious solutions to life’s little problems that you simply fancy sharing? In that case, then be happy to comment under!
Oh and speaking of repurposing present disability aids, I shall depart you with this picture, taken from an internet site that has found a really particular use for the Basic Objective Gripping Assist!