Category Archives: Balance

The Mother of Invention

This weekend I got to spend some time with my twin. I have not seen her in quite a while because she lives in another state and has a large family, which makes it hard to travel. The distance sucks, but we talk a lot, and even when we don’t there is a bond that no one can touch. I think it would be awesome if every disabled person in the world had a twin. Unfortunately that is not something we can market on the UNlimiters’ website.

My twin has been an invaluable part of my UNlimited life. When we were young she was my constant companion and I would work hard trying to keep up with her. In turn, she would adapt her play for me or help me do something. We were always conniving, her and I. I remember when we had a bunk bed as kids. We both really wanted me on the top bunk, so she pushed and I pulled and somehow we got me to the top bunk. We were thrilled; but then, of course, we couldn’t get down from the top bunk.Then there was the time she tied my trike to her bike and tried to tow me along behind her. It worked for about 5 seconds before I tipped over and was almost hit by a car.

She wasn’t always nice, though. We may have been twins but we were still sisters, and sisters can be mean sometimes. She didn’t always enjoy having me tag along. Sometimes our parents forced her to take me with her in the wagon or my stroller; on these occasions she would take me far enough that I was out of sight and earshot of the house, then leave me stranded while she went to play. She also liked to make me pee my pants when she was feeling extra mean.

These days, she has given up on most of her mean tricks. She is still my best partner when it comes to adaptability, though; she is always helping me come up with new ideas. Even though she doesn’t have CP, my sister seems to understand the way my body works in a way that other people don’t. This makes her a good person to brainstorm with. For example, this last weekend we were at a party at our other sister’s house. A bunch of us were sitting on a blanket playing with my baby niece; but I had to lie down on the blanket because I cannot sit up independently on the ground.

I could have easily sat in a chair, but I wanted to feel included. As I was holding myself up, my twin thought that the wrap she uses to hold her baby hands free could be tied around me in a way that would support my back and allow me to sit up independently. There was a lot of giggling, my oldest niece and my mother thought we had gone crazy, but after some thinking and a few strategically placed knots we came up with this:

facebook-20140707-072512

It worked, but after fifteen minutes my neck started to hurt, so the design needs some tweaking. Of course, after we posted the picture of Facebook, my ever practical college roommate suggested that this stadium chair might be an easier solution. I will have to try it; if it works I might be a little sad. My twin and I were sure that we had struck gold with this particular idea.

How I Stave-Off Wheelchair Back Pain

Gravity may keep our world together, but it’s no friend to wheelchair-users. Year after year, gravity slowly takes its toll on our backs, grinding away at our vertebrae and pulling them together, causing major pain.

Preventing back pain is almost a no-win when you can’t stand or walk. You may not be able to do it completely, but you can still help the situation. When I broke my neck, my back was perfectly straight, but I also had three more inches to grow. As I sat between the ages of 14 to 17, it sadly became pretty darn crooked.

When my growth-spurt finally ended, I realized how crooked my back had become. It transformed from a straight line into an elongated letter “S” and the only way to fix it, we were told, was with braces or surgery, but neither ended up a good solution.

In the end because of my scoliosis, back pain is now something I must live with on a daily basis. My grandpa was always lying on his back on his living room floor watching TV whenever I came to visit because of his back pain (slowly caused by degenerating discs), and now I know what that feels like.

I’m not in hellish pain everyday mind you, but it’s far from pleasant. Luckily, I’ve discovered a few ways to help out the frustrating situation of back pain. Here’s a peek at some of my favorites below.

Extra Lumbar Support

I know a quadriplegic last month who finally have some awaited lumbar support added to his wheelchair backrest, and it has totally transformed his world. Having support in this area of your back can relieve pain and help you feel more stable. Everyone who uses a wheelchair should take this seriously and strive for it whenever possible.

Forward Bend

When back pain is too much to bear, one of the few things that really helps is yoga; specifically the lean forward stretch. This stretch can be done in your wheelchair or in bed; wherever you can get the most balance. I’ve learned how to do this in rehab too, but my yoga classes perfected it, teaching all the small things you only get from yoga, like better breathing and a more clear of mind feeling.

Spinal Twist

For another back stretch that can really alleviate back pain, look no further than the classic Spinal Twist pose. This yoga pose has you twist to the left and again to the right, using your upper body as the central turning point. Think of your organs as being “wrung-out” as you do it too. It helps your mind feel unbelievably clear.

Sit as Straight as You Can

I’ve also found that slouching in my wheelchair is one of the worst things I can do to my back (oh man does it hurt). I fortunately have a custom-made backrest that literally forces me to sit straight. Although it would be nice at the end of the day, I do not have tilt on my power chair, which means I have no choice but to sit straight all day long.

While my methods above may not be perfect when it comes to “true” back care, it works for me, and that’s all that really matters. You should all do the same for yourself as well. Living each day to of the fullest will make you the happiest, and if you can manage that you’re set.

How do you take care of back pain?

Products Mentioned

– Lumbar support for a wheelchair

Custom wheelchair backrest

Photo courtesy of Blah Blah Blah

Bag Mate

Despite living with a prosthetic leg, I love going for walks. I find little more relaxing than turning my phone to Pandora and going for a long stroll through the neighborhood. The time alone affords me a much needed opportunity to regroup and to clear my head. Walking has become my sanctuary.

Although I enjoy going for little jaunts, I utterly detest walking while carrying any sort of load. Anytime my center of balance is compromised, by carrying an awkward package or heavy objects, I become hyper cognizant of each step. When I feel unsafe, I tend to avoid the activity.

Being a busy Mom, avoidance is not a solution. Although I would prefer to never carry a package or bag, it is simply not a reality. Gallons of ice cream would melt if I didn’t carrying it in from the car after grocery shopping. Circumstances have left me with no choice but to carry the cumbersome, and often times poorly packed plastic grocery bags up our outside steps and into my home. 

Tackling the grocery bag predicament, I began to investigate better options. I suppose I could make multiple trips up and down the steps to and from the car, but that seemed laborious. My time is limited, so I always seek the fastest and safest way to accomplish a task. 

My husband, tired of coming home from work and having to carry in every non-perishable item that I bought at the grocery store, began to do some research. Several months ago he found these bag carrying hooks. Simply brilliant in design, I immediately knew that these hooks were the solution we had been seeking.

It took a little practice loading, but I can now carry five bags on each hook, for a total of ten bags of groceries, on one trip. I have learned to load the bag hooks evenly, so I am not weighted heavier on one side. Even weight distribution, coupled with my carrying the load on a single point, has been the solution I’ve been seeking. As an added bonus, because I’m holding the comfort grip handle instead of the thin plastic handles, my hands and wrists are spared the painful pressure points often inflicted by the handles cutting into my arms. 

These bag carrying hooks, although seemingly inconsequential, have made a great difference in my life. Being able to comfortably carry the groceries into my home, without compromising safety, has been wonderful! (My husband certainly appreciates not being loaded up like a pack mule as soon as he comes home from work.)  I love how such a simple idea has created a profound impact on my life. These bag hooks have certainly helped me to become an UNlimiter!

Real Time Web Analytics