Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Friday, just in time

Friday at 3:00--tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock. Have been afraid to write it, hoping all the specs are right, that everything is in order. Goodness, excited. If you don't hear from me this weekend, I'd assume that I'm trying the new fancy wheels on all kind of terrain and doing a lot more indoors and out. If you want to see how I move in a wheelchair, stay tuned for the rest of the post.

I am impatient but will need to pace myself. I am remembering my first long day on scooter in public, though this wheelchair will be much more comfortable for me. I want to find some uncrowded open public space with varied terrain. I can think of a few places that are typically great but that are unusually crowded on spring weekends. And I want my husband nearby in case I get stuck--I want to know my limitations as well as how the chair moves, especially before I crowd myself into elevators or doctors' offices.

I've been thinking about long-term goals, and we all need them to keep us going. I've been thinking about a really wheelchair friendly house for the long-term--this isn't something for now, but ten years or more from now--again, a goal. What stops me planning is wondering where we would live and whether we would modify an existing house--maybe this one; a stairlift alone would accomplish a lot--or build a new one--taking some of the best features of this house that we already like, sizing down some, etc. But I think dreaming is good--I kept stopping myself from doing so because we don't have the money for moving or modifying now, but I realized I am stopping myself from thinking about the future that way. Can a balance be found, so that I am content now (as I should be) while thinking ahead?

I have been doing more cooking as I can, but it's important to think about organization (which can put a quick halt to my cooking if I can't reach or lift something). There are some useful videos on Youtube on cooking with a wheelchair. The first I show here features Shannon Minnick cooking one of my favorite indulgences, fried chicken. Shannon and Bonnie (in the second video) have more common sense than I do, and I've just learned from them to move the prep bowls and cutting boards to my lap. This will actually be easier in the wheelchair because the scooter tiller can get in my way. While I do sometimes move to the dining table, as Shannon suggests, that can be a lot of trips back and forth sometimes. Wheelchair users can get shoulder pain from working at high counters, another reason to do some work in your lap or at the dining table. Notice how she protects her lap with a heavy duty material--when you use a wheelchair, you can't jump out of the way if something hot falls as you can when you're standing.

I have not yet seen other wheelchair users move as I do and as Shannon does, approaching the destination and making the turns at a relatively high speed and sliiiiding into place. That's time saving when you're in a hurry, heck on the walls when you are me and oops--well, this will be one advantage of the tighter turning radius of the wheelchair--the scooter's turning radius is wide. (I am not at high enough speed to be in danger and wouldn't do this outdoors--I know my scooter's limits.)

This second video from Bonnie shows how some everyday kitchen tools can be adaptive devices, with an egg slicer used to chop strawberries and kiwi, for example.

In her other videos, Bonnie demonstrates some ways to reorganize the kitchen and make out-of-reach items more accessible. I know Pampered Chef products have made my cooking a lot easier because of the ergonomics of their products--though the stoneware can be a bit heavy for some people (I still love it because it's easier for me to clean). While I don't have quadriplegia, spine pain greatly limits my reach, and I may benefit from some lazy Susans or putting straps on hard-to-reach items as well.

Some assistance may still be required. I can't reach into our oven or dishwasher when in the scooter, though that may be easier with the wheelchair; it will still be physically difficult because of my spine pain and limited mobility. In one of her videos, Bonnie shows a countertop oven that's larger than a toaster oven and a griddle that can be used on a tabletop. While some assistance may still be necessary from others (my children often help us with loading and unloading the dishwasher, for example), it's good to have as much independence as possible. These are some items to think about for the long-term; it is much cheaper, definitely healthier, and often easier (no driving) to eat at home.

Shannon, by the way, also shows how to do pressure relief maneuvers for people without the upper-body strength of a paraplegic. While I knew I needed to prevent pressure sores (especially when I developed a spot over my sacrum), no one showed me how to do that, and she shows a more efficient way than I had been doing. If you're not going through rehab or seating specialists, no one gives you this and other really crucial advice. Thanks, Shannon and Bonnie, for showing some better ways to accomplish everyday tasks. Now I really am craving fried chicken, which is on the menu this week.

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