How to Begin Rebuilding Strength and Avoid a Wheelchair

April 15, 2016

While recovering from injuries, one of the major problems a disabled person faces is loss of remaining strength.  The question becomes how to avoid a wheelchair for as long as possible.

A continuing problem I have now run into is starting small, but overdoing it each time, needing to recover from the injury, and losing even more strength.

Once starting an exercise program, strength building progresses quickly enough to see fast results within one to-two weeks.   But for the past few months, I have overworked, even when I thought I started very small.

The last few times I’ve had problems, I started at three attempts at exercises on each muscle.  Each time, that was too much and set me back seriously for about three weeks each time.

I was able to begin again today, so I kept to TWO repetitions.  So far so good.  But instead of pushing it to three or five repetitions (as I normally do when starting), I have decided to stay at TWO for at least five days and see how it goes, before pushing up to three.


Versatile Uses for a Long-Handled Shoehorn

November 27, 2010

A long-handled shoehorn turned out to be a better tool than I had hoped for.    I immediately found several additional uses for it that I have never seen discussed or advertised.

In addition to putting on shoes, I found it to be extremely helpful for taking socks off.  If slid in at the top of the cuff, and pushed down and past heel, it’s then very easy to hold the toe of the sock with the opposite foot and finish pulling it off.

I found it helpful in removing slacks or trousers, especially when wearing long underwear underneath, when they tend to stick together, and the outside pair doesn’t want to descend below the knees.  Insert the shoehorn at the knee, and the trousers can be easily removed.

A plastic shoehorn can also be used as a dressing stick aid.

In an emergency, a shoehorn can be used as a backscratcher, as well.


Getting Organized at Home

November 8, 2010

When one becomes disabled, it becomes impossible to do normal tasks the habitual way. Home organization and systems need to be changed.

The rooms causing the most difficulty are the dressing area, the bathroom, and the kitchen.  Upcoming posts will deal with each of these rooms in detail.

The most important thing in the bathroom, even if you have no grab bars, are to have non-slip mats installed in the shower, and an additional non-slip mat where you step out of the shower.  I realized this after slipping and falling flat on my back, where I was stuck naked and on the cold tile floor alone  for 5-10 minutes before being able to move, but luckily did not hit my head or break my hip.

The most important things for the dressing area are a bench-type of seat, with padding (to protect your tailbone area when leaning back).  This bench-seat should not be placed next to a wall, but in the center of the room, enabling you to swivel legs to the other side.  A carpeted area needs to be on both sides of the bench.   Most commonly-worn shoes and underwear, as well as basic clothing, all need to be within easy SEATED reach.  Dressers or hanging space can be positioned about two feet from either side of the bench for easy seated reach.  A long-handled shoehorn is a great help.

The kitchen needs to be completely reorganized.  A table or other low surface from where you can work easily at a seated position needs to be placed facing out into the room, with a chair placed behind it, and in front of the counter.   A swivel-chair with wheels (we use a secretary’s chair which we already had at a desk in the house) enables you to easily turn and reach items in the cupboards behind, or on the counter behind.  The items most commonly used–stainless-steel mixing bowls, measuring cups, and various knives and commonly used kitchen implements such as peelers all need to be located next to the swivel chair, either on the counter in tiered baskets, or in the drawers or cupboards easily accessible from the seated position.  The microwave should be within easy reach.  When cooking, it’s helpful to have a large bowl of water on the table, which you can ladle  out with smaller bowls for various uses, including rinsing hands and knives when working, as this minimizes having to struggle out of the chair and to the sink, either without crutches, or getting crutches dirty with food-covered hands.  It’s helpful to have paper towels and kleenex stored within reach, as well.

—Paloma


Facing the Shock of Becoming Disabled

November 7, 2010

Becoming disabled is unimaginable until it happens.

My hip was becoming more and more painful over time.  Exacerbating the problem at the time was that I was a teacher in an international school.  Following the September 11 attack, security at our school was increased to the point that the teacher’s bus could no longer enter the school.  It parked at a distance outside, and we had to walk far through the school property to get to the school building carrying all of our books, lunches, and two liters of water (quite heavy) for about 300 yards.  This was because the path was of gravel, and a bag on wheels could not be pulled through it.  My hip began to feel as though I were actually going to collapse with each step I took.  I finally went to a doctor.

The doctor said that my hip was in Stage 2 (and a normal replacement happens in Stage 3 or 4).  Since I was only 46, the doctors said that I should do everything possible to try to postpone a hip replacement until age 60 (presumably because they only last 20 years at best).  So for that reason, he had me start using one crutch on the opposite side.

I felt VERY stupid walking around with one crutch; however, within one week, the pain relief was TREMENDOUS. Fortuanately, since I am right-handed, the crutch was under my left arm, leaving my right arm free.  The school arranged for someone to carry my heavy bad from the bus to a sidewalk in front of the school, from where I could pull my bag (on wheels) the rest of the way.

One of my biggest problems at this time was that I felt embarrassed to go out.  Once vacation came, I sat at home for a week, and realized that if I did not do something about it, I would be forever trapped in the house.  So I FORCED myself to GO OUT EVERYWHERE with the crutch, even to the swimming pool!  I felt REALLY STUPID AND EMBARRASSED to have to use a crutch like that at my age.  But after a month or so, I got used to it, to the point where I don’t even think twice about it, and just go about all of my daily business.

–Paloma


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