How I Adapted My Life-And How You Can Too!
Tips on how to make daily life that little bit easier.
When I was younger and going through treatment I absolutely refused to think of myself as differently abled. I didn’t want to associate myself with groups or organisations who cared for ‘disabled people’. If I was walking on my crutches and happened to spot another crutch user, I would immediately feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. I had convinced myself that people would see us together and find it amusing. It was a ridiculous way to think but at that age and with everything going on, my poor little head was melted! Thankfully I grew up and began to change my thought process. It was gradual at first but once I was told I would remain on crutches permanently something changed within me. I began to embrace my situation which made life a lot easier. I have also adapted my workouts which has helped me reach much bigger goals than I ever thought possible. As you can see from the photo I wear my brace when training. This is used to stabilise my hip and to ensure I am safe at all times. Once upon a time I would have felt self conscious walking in to my local gym wearing my brace. Now I use it as a way to stand out from the crowd.
I have made some simple changes to assist me with daily living. I thought I would share them with you as you might find it useful.
I switched to a memory foam mattress topper a few years ago and I swear to God it was the best thing I ever did! I have had a few people sleep in my bed.. (friends and family, not what you are thinking!) and they have all remarked on how comfortable it is. I bought a memory foam topper in 'Next' for €100- they may still stock them. I would recommend you purchase a topper first before buying a full mattress. I have had both and the topper is just as good but a fraction of the cost. I have also invested in good quality pillows. When my hip is especially sore I place a pillow between my knees while lying on my side, it works.. give it a try! Good pillows also help with back pain.
If, like me, you wear a hip brace, I would recommend wearing it at night regardless of whether you find it comfortable or not. You cannot control how you move when sleeping and you could be causing more damage over time. I hated wearing my brace at night but I persevered and got used to it. Now I almost feel weird not wearing it.
I keep all important items close to my bed to avoid having to get up each time I want something. After I undergo surgery I always use my grabber. (A grabber is a long stick with a claw type thing on the end, it helps you grab things, hence the name) These are useful- get one if you need it. Don’t do what I did and refuse to use one for years because it made you feel uncool. Get over it and make life easier! It is actually a fun item to use. It has a magnet attached to the nose so if you drop a hair grip you can easily retrieve it. Yay.
Depending on the size of your kitchen it can be a royal pain in the ass preparing a meal when you are a crutch user. (I use one crutch around the house)
Allow me to paint you a picture of my old routine. I have chosen bullet points for dramatic effect.
• Walk into kitchen and make a bee line for the fridge.
• Take out all necessary ingredients and place on small counter next to the fridge.
• Turn around and glance at the area across the room where I will actually prepare the food.
• Pile the items precariously on to a chopping board and carry it with my one free arm across the room.
• Watch helplessly as the onion rolls off the chopping board and hits the floor, or my foot when I instinctively put it out to save my fallen comrade.
• Place items on work surface and lean crutch against the counter while I get to work.
• Two minutes later listen to the sound of sliding and turn around just in time to watch my crutch slip away from the counter and hit the floor.
• Realise I left a good 50% of my ingredients on the small counter next to the fridge and spend the rest of my day going over and back.
• Drop my crutch a few more times.
• Give up and ring Dominos.
As you can imagine my old routine was a frustrating one. My new approach to cooking is nice and simple. Prepare, prepare, prepare! Having a plan in your head before you reach the kitchen is the best way to stay sane. Get to know every inch of your workspace. If the cooker protrudes out a little it is probably a source of annoyance for other family members. They have most likely caught an item of clothing on it at some point. This little protruding edge is the perfect spot to lean a crutch against. Finding fortune in others' misfortune is key!
My key piece of advice for a successful work life is to make your surroundings as comfortable as possible. Some people assume that the work space should be functional but not too comfortable to avoid staff becoming lazy. That is fine if you are able bodied. However, if you have a condition that causes pain, a 'functional' work space simply isn't good enough. I have worked in these spaces and my levels of productivity were usually low. The reason for this was down to the fact that I was distracted by the pain I was in.
I would suggest investing in a good quality office chair. I have one in my office and it has made a huge difference. Speak with your employer before purchasing as they may offer to help with costs. You may also be entitled to a grant depending on your condition so do your research.
I hope you have found this article of some use. Keep an eye on the website for more blog posts coming soon!