Category Archives: Asking For Help

Finally Getting That Cup Holder, and Other Things I’ve Been Meaning to Get

4579520419_5897bf9f8fI don’t know about you, but there’s always a crazy long list of things I’ve been meaning to get; disability-related products I need, need to replace or just fondly remember from rehab. This kind of thing happens a lot when you have a disability. I call it: The non-stop ongoing list.

There’s always so many currently-existing and new gadgets out there that will make your life easier. The “Cripper,” the reacher for low-level quadriplegics who have wrist function but not finger function, and therefore can’t use a normal reacher, is one such example in my life. God I want one of these so bad, but they’re just too darn expensive. At $179, I’ve always procrastinated this purchase.

Last week however I had this feeling come over me. Maybe it was the extra cash in my pocket, but I felt it was finally time to knock some of the things off of my “to-purchase” list.  At the top included a cup holder. My new powerchair does not stop as quickly as I would like it to, so when I try to use the vacuum-effect pedestrian door in my parking garage I need to use both hands to get it open, and that means I need somewhere to put my trusty cup of hot water.

Finding a cup holder that is actually decent, meaning that it will fit on your chair, it won’t break easily and will fit different cup sizes is surprisingly difficult to find.  I’ve yet to find a cup holder I would recommend. The best one I’ve seen so far was handmade by the now-dismantled seating shop at the Courage Center. Those old guys really knew how to build adaptive equipment.

So when knocking off my list last week, I decided to give another cup holder a shot. Most of the ones I’ve bought before snapped within a couple of days, breaking in two when I hit the door frame or when it hit the seatbelt holder in my van. Cheap plastic much? I decided not to spend a lot of money, thinking of my past failed purchases.

Well my order arrived just the other day and I’m not quite sure what to say about it. The biggest drawback – it doesn’t fit my cup; only cans. Hrm pop or beer only. Okay…this cup holder only wants me to get drunk or fat apparently. Grrreat.  It also needs a flathead screwdriver to be installed.  I’ve yet to put this guy on my chair, but when I do I will let you know how it goes.

I also purchased clear plastic squeeze bottles for putting ketchup and other condiments in. A two-pack is cheap and all you need. Since I can’t use my fingers, I’ll use these babies to squeeze my fav stuff with no scary glass containers or hard tops required – ketchup, apple cider vinegar, anything. I especially like using these for olive oil.

An avid reader at night (who refuses to switch to the Nook or Kindle), I also purchased a clip-on LED book light since holding my book strategically near my lap isn’t easy. This is something I’ve been meaning to get for awhile, but I kept putting it off.  Now than I have one I can’t believe I waited this long. It has made reading in bed at least 10 points easier, and best of all it cost only $8.

At the end of the day we all know it’s easy to make a list of the things you’d love to have, but actually following through and getting them is the hard part. I’m just really glad I finally did. Waiting as long as I did to get something as simple as a book light is ridiculous. I tend to be too stubborn, thinking I can make do without.  People with disabilities tend to be this way.

But now that I’ve seen the light, I’m going to start changing how I think. It’s ok to “need” another product if it makes my life easier. It doesn’t mean I’m weak, it just means I’m finally getting smart.

What disability products have you been meaning to get?

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

Too proud to ask for help??

You may remember the blog entry that I posted in May about my friend Jan and her Stand-uppity-garden. Age and a debilitating accident have made it almost impossible for her to do the requisite bending and kneeling that is needed if you are an avid gardener, as she is, but it has not stopped her from producing a showcase of splendor in her yard. Her table-top garden is just one example of how she’s faced her challenges.

She is not above asking for help either and it really got me to thinking recently as I read these words that she wrote: “Ashley helped me bring in the crotons yesterday. I almost envied her ability to get down and wipe the dirt off the big old pots as I held the 8 foot plant diagonally while she cleaned it. I thought to myself, I used to be able to do this all by myself and then get back up and keep going… and now… well… I guess this is what happens when those numbers keep changing.”

It made me think of my own situation and of all the things that I’ve missed because I couldn’t ask for the help that would make it possible. Blame it on my New England upbringing, or just on the fact that I’ve always been independent and “can’t” has rarely been part of my vocabulary. Now that I’ve reached the grand old age of 80 I find that there are actually a number of things that I can’t do … such as driving at night because the oncoming lights blind me. I wonder how many nighttime festivities I‘ve missed. But it’s still very difficult for me to ask for help and I’ll bet there are many of you out there just like me?

I also pondered over the fact that Jan was turning her disability into a selfless and win-win situation. Ashley is a college student who Jan has hired to assist in her outdoor work. With her help Jan is able to get her yard back to the amazing showcase that it has been for years and Ashley gets extra money for school.

Hmmmm… It reminds me of that young student who lives down the street. He’s working his way through college and I’ll bet he’s not afraid to drive at night ! Now, where do I have his number …

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