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Posts Tagged ‘adaptive’

Workarounds

I’ve talked here and there about tricks and adaptations that I’ve adopted over the last two years as I adjust to my changing abilities. Since the theme for the next ChronicBabe blog carnival is Workarounds, I thought that it might be useful to group them in the environments where I use them, so here you go!

At Night

  • Electric toothbrush for less wear and tear on tired and/or sore hands, wrists and shoulders, and dental floss picks.
  • A exfoliating bath scarf for washing my back without straining my shoulders or twisting (using it is healthy motions according to my physical therapist, and it helps!)
  • A cervical pillow to reduce stiffness and pain (which also helps prevent migraines).
  • My own blanket separate from my hubby, since I am always colder than he is.
  • Night stand stash: silicone ear plugs, night mask, and mouth guard to help minimize sleep disturbances and clenching my teeth (which also triggers migraines). I might not use them every night, but having them on hand helps for middle-of-the-might needs. Also in this category- extra socks for cold feet.
  • Nightlights EVERYWHERE, so that when I’m staggering around in the middle of the night I’m not caroming off of corners or tripping over cats.
  • Same bedtime every night (9-9:30). A pain on weekends, but helps sleep issues enormously. 8-9 hours sleep a night if I can get it (almost never, but that much rest at least does help).

In the Morning

  • A plastic cup with a handle in the bathroom for taking my early-morning meds.
  • A medicine cup to round up little pills so I can take them with less dropping.
  • The same, simple breakfast that requires no thought or tricky prep.
  • Frozen meals for lunch. I’d love to make something, but right now I have neither the time nor the energy.
  • Slip-on comfortable dress shoes and a bench to sit on while getting dressed.
  • Just the right shoulder bag– big enough for lunch and a netbook but otherwise as small as I could get it. This has had a huge impact on my organisation and mobility- much more than I expected it would.
  • An organised work closet. Slacks/skirt + blouse. The most recently worn goes on the right, so I know anything on the left I haven’t worn in at least two weeks- a no-brainer. Simple jewellery of scarf if I feel so inclined (and remember).

At Work

  • An extra suit jacket at my desk to combat the incessant air-conditioning, which makes my joints ache.
  • A pair of arthritis gloves in my bag for stiff hands and typing.
  • A small space heater under my desk is a life saver!
  • An ergonomic footrest to take some strain off my knees and ankles.
  • Snacks and drinks at my desk for taking meds.
  • Frequent breaks- every 20 minutes if I can manage it, so that I don’t stiffen up or exacerbate pain.

Travel

  • A collapsible cane for when I know I’ll do lots of walking.
  • Carpooling on days I know I will have difficulty driving.
  • Always, always carry extra pain meds and dinner meds for unexpected meals out.

At Home

In the Garden

  • A garden stool– handy for any job where I need to be near the floor for any length of time.

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New Adaptive Tricks

So I haven’t written about adaptations in a while. For the most part, I’m doing really well so I haven’t had to make a lot of changes. I finally succeeded at slip-on shoes nice enough for work that don’t hurt my feet (too much- still breaking them in), my electric toothbrush is the bomb, and my new wireless mouse is proving to be way more of a positive change than I expected.

One thing I have started doing is putting my pills in a little cup when I take them. I was getting really, really frustrated at dropping tiny pills. I take pills four times a day, and I take a lot of them. My 5 am pill is not problem, but the 3-6 at breakfast were getting dropped. Every. Day. Putting the pills into one of the little cough syrup cups and then knocking that back with juice has been a huge help. I do this at dinner at well (another 6-8). At lunch I take 8 and have not figured out a portable way to do this yet- I’m still working on that.

Have I mentioned how very, very much I want to cut back on the number of pills I take? 3/4 are vitamins and supplements- it’s crazy! And yet they work, so the only way that I can stop is if I don’t need them any more. Grf. But I digress.

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It’s been hard for me to admit that I can’t always do things the same way as I used to and that I have to make changes. Last year I invested in a desktop computer at home so I would not have to lug my work laptop back and forth every day. This has been a big help for my back, shoulders, elbows and hands (all of which are affected by the rheumatoid arthritis). However, I’ve had to make a few other changes that are a bit frustrating:

  • I now use chunky pens or add a padded grip when I know that I will do a lot of hand-writing, otherwise writing makes my hands ache and I drop the pen more frequently. I would like to find some prettier pens or grips for this purpose.
  • The glass tumbler I use to take my morning medication has been swapped for a plastic cup. Again, my grip isn’t what it used to be, especially first thing in the morning, and I came close to dropping the glass a few times before I admitted that it just wasn’t a good idea any more. I’d like to find a smaller, prettier plastic cup, preferably with a handle, but everything I’ve found so far is too small (child-sized) or too large (my current issue).
  • I now carry two pill cases- a large round case with my daily vitamins (2″ diameter and 1″ deep with a screw cap- quite handy) and a smaller, divided pill case with my pain medications. I’d like one, large, pretty pillcase, but any nice ones are half the size, and I prefer to only fill my cases once a week. I may have to settle for a compromise here- two smaller, pretty cases. This leads back to the subject of this post, however…

A couple weeks ago I finally admitted that my messenger bag just really wasn’t a good idea any more. It is a big, floppy bag that I adore and refer to as my “Bag of Holding” (geeks represent!). Unfortunately, large bags collect all sorts of things: sweaters, water bottles, snacks, frozen lunches, miscellaneous electronics, cats, etc. and all that can get quite heavy. I downsized to a nicer purse for work to force myself to carry less odds and ends, and while it is effective, I miss having the space when I need it (I tend to swap back for weekends, especially if I’ll be on the road). Despite the purging the new bag is still somewhat on the heavy side, and now smaller items are not as accessible. Those pretty pill cases are metal, rather than the light plastic I use now, so I would just be adding to the weight issue.

If you struggle with a heavy bag, how do you address the issue? I’m open to suggestions and links to any useful products online. Thank you!

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