Category Archives: At Home

Finally, A Recliner I Won’t Get Stuck In!

IMG_00001109
This weekend I received a gift from my grandmother, who is in her nineties and is my last living grandparent. She has always been a fun, feisty women and I believe I get a lot of my best traits from her; including my stubbornness. Of course, there are people who might consider that to be a negative trait; however, I find it is one that comes in handy when living life with a disability.

About a week ago my Dad called me and asked if I wanted my Grandmother’s recliner. At first I freaked out thinking she had passed away. But then my dad explained that she was moving to a new place where she could receive more daily help, and that she couldn’t take everything with her. Apparently Grandma had specifically requested that I receive her chair. Not being one to say no to my Grandma under any circumstances, I agreed to take it.

When I sit on a couch I often don’t get the core support I need, so I end up slouching and getting an achy back. This is why I love sitting in a recliner; however, they present their own set of issues. Like most people, when I sit in a recliner, I like to put my feet up and, you know, recline. This wouldn’t be a problem except I either need to be content sitting for a long period of time, or someone needs to rescue me because it is next to impossible to get out unassisted.

My Grandma’s recliner solves this problem, which is why she insisted I receive it. Instead of a lever or manual button release, this recliner has a powered button that reclines the chair and then brings back to sitting on its own. I set it up right by the lamp so I can do my reading and quilting in that chair. At first, I was worried the cats might get under it and get squashed, but they seem to know to stay out of there.

Of course, not everyone has a Grandmother that gives you awesome furniture. Fear not, you can buy one. As a person that typically gets her furniture from thrift shops and relatives, I know the price of new furniture is a bit overwhelming. But if your relaxing needs are similar to my own, a chair like this will be any worthy investment.

An UNlimited Year in Review

This post marks my one year anniversary as a blogger for UNlimiters. I can hardly believe that it has been a year, and what a year it has been. I went from being unemployed, to working three part time jobs; from having Hepatitis C to being cured of the disease, and from writing once a month, to writing at least once a week. A lot has changed for me over this year, but many things have stayed the same, including the things I use every day in order to live my life Unlimited. For my anniversary post, I would like to revisit these items, and to share with you the top three I never want to be without.

My very first post highlighted an item that I used most often in my house, the crockpot. Growing up I don’t remember my Mom using the crockpot for anything other than baked beans. The other recipes I had eaten out of a crockpot left much to be desired; so at first I didn’t think I would like cooking with a crockpot. However, I was presently surprised. Crockpots are great for more than just beans, sauces and soups. You can make many delicious items in the crockpot, including desserts. It is a life saver during a busy work week or when I would rather spend time sewing than worrying about what is for dinner.

My second post featured an item I literally could not live without. I mean, I guess I probably could, but it would not be a very full or exciting life. The Hurri-Cane Crutch was introduced to me by a friend of my fathers who happened to know a guy that was trying to market a new kind of Lofstrand Crutch. I have used Lofstrand Crutches since I was about 6. Ever since I was introduced to the Hurri-Cane Crutch, I have never used another, and have tried quite a variety of mobility aids in my time. These crutches are light, stylish and practically indestructible.

Finally, this post featured an item that I had seen a hundred times while being around others with disabilities. Although the reacher was a familiar adaptive tool to me, it was not something I felt I needed. I grew up in an “adapt or fail” type of household. I was taught to adapt to my environment instead of expecting it to change to accommodate me. Thus, I equated the use of certain assistive technology with laziness. However, after starting a new job, I got tired of asking people to pick things up for me; I finally cave and bought the reacher. It has increased my independence and changed my perspective on assistive technology.

Life is about change, it is about learning and growing. The person you are today might not be the person you are tomorrow. You will learn new things, form new opinions and have new experiences, but that doesn’t mean we should discount the things that stay the same. It is the unchanging things in life that give us the confidence to do all the changing along the way.

Homemade Lunch: No Communal Refridgerator Required

Fridge

I have been a full-fledged, card carrying member of the work force for about ten years now. I have to say, being an adult and having a job is not nearly as scary as they made it sound in the brochure. However, there is one thing no one tells you about. It is the one thing that can make you fear for your life and run for the door. It is just as likely to be found at a fancy law firm or doctor’s office, as it is in the employee lounge of a grocery store, or post office. What am I talking about? None other than the communal refrigerator.

Almost anyone who has held a job outside of the home has encountered the communal refrigerator; if you have not, count your lucky stars. Communal refrigerators are notoriously icky. They are usually stuffed full of items that expired during the Clinton administration, and there is almost always an unidentifiable sticky substance lurking at the bottom of the drawers. The freezer is the safest place for your food, but everyone knows that, so good luck squeezing your lunch in there.

The communal refrigerator at my current job isn’t that terrible, but I am still not inclined to use it. Even if I was, the staff lounge is a tight squeeze for my wheelchair, plus the fridge is a side by side, so I can’t reach all the shelves. For me, it is much easier to just keep my lunch with me at my desk, but then there is the concern of keeping it cold. Avoiding the communal refrigerator is pointless if I get myself sick with warm mayonnaise.

I tried a number of lunch coolers before I found one that met all my needs; big enough for my breakfast and lunch, actually kept my food cold and fit in the backpack I use on the back of my chair. But finally the fourth one I tried fit the bill. This lunch tote by Thirty One, holds a lot of food, but its soft sides and shape make it fit easily in my backpack. This bag is also the only one I have found that will keep my food cool until lunch time without the hassle of an ice pack.

So if you are sick of eating out every day just to avoid the horrors of the communal fridge, try this cute little cooler. It can be found in several colors, so you can also stay fashionable while your food stays cool.

Got Too Much Stuff? Donate it– UNlimiters Style!

imagesA few weeks ago my husband and I got a new couch. Well, it wasn’t really new, but it was “new to us.” Unlike our many other pieces of “new to us” furniture, this was very gently used. I love it. Of course, since I use the furniture and the walls to get around my house, we had to make sure that everything was positioned just so; but now that everything has been arranged it looks lovely.However, there is one small problem, and by one I mean two, and by small I mean rather large.

See, despite the fact that our trash company had agreed to take the old couches away for $10 a piece, they are still sitting in my basement, along with the two couches we were using before them. That’s right; I now have four used couches in my basement. Why? Well, that’s a logical question, and if I had an answer there would not be four couches in my basement. I cannot move the couches, so my husband has to do it, and he says that he cannot move them because he needs someone to help him. To date, he has not asked anyone and no one has spontaneously volunteered.

This is seriously enough to drive a woman insane. Fortunately, I have found a way in which I can get rid of some of the other stuff that seems to accumulate when you are a home owner, without needing my husband to help. Donate Stuff is an organization that accepts donations of gently used clothing and household items. The best part? They will pick them up for you on a scheduled date and time. The items you donate will go to a local charity and the pick-up is absolutely free. In my area, the items picked up by Donate Stuff goes to my local Purple Heart, a charity that supports military veterans and their families. It is really easy to schedule a pick – up, you just go to www.donatestuff.com and enter your zip code, then follow the instructions. If pickup is not available in your area, Donate Stuff will send you pre-paid UPS bags to mail in your clothing donations, for free.

Unfortunately for me and my couch situation, Donate Stuff does not pick up large items; they only take items that can be moved by a single person. But they will take clothing, small furniture, small appliances and other household items, which make them a great resource when you clean out your closet at the end of the season, buy a new coffee maker or your child suddenly decides that trains are for babies. You can donate these items knowing that they will be going to new families instead of filling up a landfill or your basement.

So when I look at those four couches sitting in my basement, I remember to be grateful that it is only couches, and not the hundreds of other items I have been able to donate to a good cause. I just keep hoping that someday soon a magic fairy, or a very large man, might come and take them a way.

Peace of Mind: The Bedside Emergency Bag

bagMaybe it’s The Walking Dead’s fault or maybe it’s all the apocalyptic shows on the History channel, but end-of-the-world scenarios are on my mind more than ever before (thank you cable, I love too). Now that I’m so paranoid, I decided to employ the bedside emergency bag. If you like playing intellectual games, visit this site.

Why? Well, this is the line of thought that goes through your head when you rely on others to get out of your bed, and live alone: What if we were invaded in the middle of the night and I was stuck in bed? Who would get me up then? Or on the more realistic side of things: What if I need such and such in the middle of the night? I can’t very well get up to reach it. What then?

This and so much more is why I now have my bedside emergency bag. It’s full of everything critical – things I absolutely need to be ok without having to call for help. You just never know what may happen in the middle of the night, or what your PCA may forget to give you before leaving.

Be smart like me. Here’s what you should always keep next to you in bed, stored safely in a bag, just in case.

Tums

If have a sensitive stomach to pills, having Tums in your bag is a must. They’re so effective I just can’t get over it. If say you took a pill at midnight and started feeling queasy, chew a Tums and in a matter of seconds, almost all nausea you may be experiencing will be gone. My personal favorite is their tropical flavor. Goes down easy when the last thing you want is to eat something.

Check it out: Tums Extra Tropical

Advil

Another must for your bedside bag is your favorite painkiller. I prefer Advil, but if you’re Tylenol, Alleve or Bayer fan, that of course is just as good. You’ll just be glad you had this nearby if you need in the middle of the night. Trust me I’ve been there. It may start to feel like you’re bedside bag is becoming a mini-pharmacy, but if you can’t get out of your bed to get these things, it’s worth it.

Check it out: Advil

Extra Water

Water is another essential item to have. Make sure it’s bottled water so it can be in there for awhile without worry of it going bad. You can’t usually can’t fit a ton of water in your emergency bag, but having one bottle in there is always a smart idea.

Non-perishable Snack

Having some kind of food item in your bag that can’t go bad is also hugely important. This can mean candy bars, a small bag of crackers, even some almonds; anything that can last for several months. Sometimes food is the only way to get rid of nausea or even lightheadedness, which is why it’s always smart to have some in your bag.

Extra Catheter

A hugely important item if you use catheters is to always have an extra one.  If you’re like me, you also have a few in your catheter bag, but if you run out of those it’s nice to know you have an extra one just nearby waiting for you in your emergency bag.

Alcohol Swabs

If you do use catheters, it’s also a good idea to have a few spare alcohol swabs in your bag too. These are great for cleaning a catheter in a pincj if you need to reuse one and ran out in bed (been there). These can disinfect the tip of a catheter fairly well.

Zinc Cough Drops

And lastly, my cold prevention go-to: Lemon zinc cough drops. If I ever feel a cold coming on in bed, I pop in one of these and let the magic happen. I haven’t gotten one cold this whole winter thanks to these babies.

Check them out: Zand Lemon Zinc Lozenges

While this list above covers a lot, there are loads of other things you can include in your bedside emergency bag. A flashlight, a book, even a spare battery for your cell phone; anything you can think of that you know you’ll absolutely need if you need it. It may take a little bit of work to set all of this up, but it’s worth it in the end when you need Advil and cracker in the middle of the night and it’s right there waiting for you.

What’s in your bedside emergency bag?

New Uses for Common Household Items

It isn’t always necessary to buy a specialized product in order to adapt the world to your needs. Often times, you can use everyday household items already at your disposal, in new and creative ways; turning them into a mobility device or another form of assistive technology.

I am always using my body and the objects around me in new ways in order to make my life easier. Sometimes this makes people nervous. For instance, I have been known to carry anything from a slip of paper, to dinnerware, in my mouth in order to avoid an extra trip. This drives my Dad crazy, he thinks I might break a tooth; but if it is good enough for my dog, it is good enough for me. Other times my ingenuity leaves people wondering “why didn’t I think of that?” and soon others, even those without disabilities, are using my methods in their daily routines.

I have a tall bar stool in my house. It is located right next to my fridge in the kitchen. It is not for sitting, even if I wanted to sit on it I couldn’t. I do, however, use it for a number of other things. First, I use it to hold my coffee cup and cereal bowl while I pour milk in the morning. This saves me from have to make trips back and forth from the table to the fridge in the morning. Secondly, I use it to carry things from one side of the kitchen to the other. I simply place the item(s) on the stool and push the stool from one place to the next. It slides very easily on the kitchen floor. Finally, I use it for stability, when sweeping or picking something up off the floor. The third instance isn’t as common, thanks to my Mint and my dog. However, it is good to have options.

Another common item that I use in uncommon ways are tongs. You can probably guess what these are for. I not only have CP, but I am also short and cannot reach past the second self in most of my kitchen cabinets. Since step stools are hard from me to climb, I often use the tongs to give me a few more inches of reach when I am in a pinch. There is a technique to using tongs, but with a bit of practice any one can master it. Though I must caution that this is not recommended for heavy or breakable items. This warning comes from personal experience.

The last item I use frequently are those reusable grocery bags. I use them to carry heavy objects, like my laptop, from room to room, especially if I am going upstairs. I can’t carry the bag on my shoulder so I hang it on my forearm, or for a hands free trip, around my neck.

Of course these tricks and techniques won’t work for everyone, but I think that all of us can benefit from thinking outside the box in order to live UNlimited.

What everyday items do you like to use in new ways?

Garlic Lovers, Rejoice!

I am going to share a bit about me that isn’t a secret; I love garlic. I am Italian on my father’s side, I blame this obsession entirely on those roots.  I love garlic the way my husband loves catsup, I put it in almost everything I eat. Whenever there is a chip, potato, sauce, dip, or bread that has garlic in it, I am first in line to try it. I love only two foods more, cheese and wine. Wine is food right?

One thing I don’t like about garlic is the preparation. I know I am not alone in this, plenty of people have complaints about prepping garlic; but having cerebral palsy, where fine motor skills are not a strong point, I find the peeling, chopping and the mincing utterly infuriating. Before you mention it, I know there is pre-minced garlic in stores, but I just can’t do it. I am sure it is perfectly fine, but I personally find those jars of pre-minced garlic to be a little off putting. I prefer to used fresh garlic.

So what is a garlic loving ceep to do? You buy a garlic zoom and a garlic peeler of course! These two tiny gadgets are proof that big things really do come in small packages. They completely changed my life. The Garlic Zoom is my favorite kitchen appliance of all time. It was given to me by one of my favorite people, and fellow garlic lover, as a wedding shower gift. She showed me how to use it and my mind was blown. You just put your peeled clove in the zoom and then roll it on the counter like you’re back in kindergarten with the matchbox cars (Get it? garlic zoom!)

I love it. I can’t live without it. In fact, when my husband accidently destroyed  the first one in the garbage disposal, then tried in vain to piece it back together, I went out and bought a new one the same day. After all, how was I to make dinner?

Of course you still have to peel the garlic. And that is where a garlic peeler comes in handy. I know it doesn’t look like much, but this garlic peeler works similarly to the Garlic Zoom. You simply place the garlic inside and roll it on the counter. You will hear a crackle when the skin separates, then you just slide the now naked clove out of the peeler and into your garlic zoom.

Or course, if you want to peel a whole head of the stuff, the bowl method is the way to go, not only can you peel a whole head of garlic in ten seconds, you can also release a day’s worth of frustration.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d3oc24fD-c&w=560&h=315]

The best part about these two products, other than the fact that they are budget friendly, is that they are not just for people with disabilities. Anyone can benefit from these time saving gadgets, plus they are safe for children to use, which is great if you have a kid that loves to help out in the kitchen.

So, what’s for dinner?

Rediscovering A Blast From My Past

Because I acquired my disability shortly after birth, I have spent my life using adaptive equipment and assistive technology. Some of these items I still use today, like my crutches and my bath chair. Other items, like my leg braces and adaptive writing utensils, I no longer use at all. Every once in a while though, one of those long ago items will become useful again and I then wonder why I ever stopped using it in the first place.

Recently, I have been struggling with things that slip; like my feet on the kitchen floor, the cutting board on the counter, my ruler on my cutting matt, my butt on the chair in my sewing room. All of these things are frustrating at the very least, and have the potential to be very dangerous. I’ve tried to come up with various solutions that didn’t involve spending a small fortune on non-slip rugs and rubber coated kitchen supplies. I have put blue tape on my ruler and my cutting board. I even considered the possibility of rubber cementing the bottoms of my most used kitchen supplies to see if that would help. Then I had a flashback to my first grade classroom, where my teacher, Ms. Hart used to put prices of blue rubber sheeting under my paper so it wouldn’t slip when I wrote.

All it took was one quick post to a CP forum I am part of to discover an item called dycem; big plus side is that it is available online. Dycem is great; it is tacky on both sides and will stick to nearly everything. It can be cut to any size so I can use it on the floor under my feet, on my chair under my butt, under my cutting mat and ever under my ruler when I am cutting fabric. I can even use it under fabric when I need to trace a template. But that’s not all, dycem is not only good at preventing all manners of slippage, is also great for adding grip to items. It can be used to open jars and bottles, or strips can be added to handles, pens or even a toothbrush to supply a better grip.

Dycem has a million possible uses. And it is not just for people with disabilities. Dycem can be useful to anyone who is sick of having their stuff slide around; I can even see it being a great tool for mothers with young children. Dycem is also reusable and washable, so one small roll can last quite a long time and be used for several different applications. If you find you are regularly putting Dycem under certain items regularly, it can be permanently adhered to any surface with a little superglue. I think I might glue some to the back of a clipboard so that I can finally carry papers around the office without them sliding off my lap. What do/would you use dycem for?

Game Console Fitness

Because I am intrinsically lacking the “I love to work-out and sweat” gene, I am constantly searching for new options to keep me motivated. Time constraints, my lack of motivation as well as my limb loss combine to make working-out a chore.  I find that I am more apt, and hence more successful, when I am able to merge my working out with my daily activities.

Being the Mom to a little boy, my house is filled with game consoles and games. My husband and son can spend hours playing games and, although I am not a gamer, I have learned to appreciate their value. Not only do the games afford me a few moments of solitude, I discovered that I now have access to a wide library of work-out routines. A number of games incorporate enough movement to work up a sweat and to burn calories. After all, fitness doesn’t have to happen in a gym.

Active is an interactive program designed to move the player through a variety of work-outs. This basic fitness program has options to work sections of the body, or to run you through a whole body workout. Because of the ability to personalize, the player can eliminate the exercises which are difficult or painful. I find that I have to adjust many of the exercises to accommodate for my prosthesis, but it typically doesn’t seem to interfere with the work-out.

Dance Dance Revolution has received a lot of press in the past months. Despite it’s popularity, many lower extremity amputees find it frustrating with the constant impact on the residual limb becoming painful. This is a game that utilizes primarily foot movement in quick succession. Dancing ability, which I am admittedly lacking, is a requisite for this game. Although it looks fun, I had a difficult time with the pace, the impact and the pistoning within my socket as I tried to mimic the moves.

Just Dance, another physical game, only utilizes the hand controller. Foot options are demonstrated on the screen but are not required to score points. Lower extremity amputees are not at a disadvantage! Be careful, this game will have you working up a sweat in a song or two.

On days when I can’t walk outside, I have started turning to my XBox and Wii for an effective and fun fitness experience.

Real Time Web Analytics