Category Archives: Quadriplegia

Quad Fingers and Doin’ Hair

They say your hair is your crowning glory, the first thing a possible mate notices even, which is why I’ve always been a bit meticulous about my hair.

However, as a C5-6 quadriplegic with no finger movement, taking care of my hair the way I’d like to hasn’t always been the easiest thing.

In fact, I had to make a lot of hair-related sacrifices since becoming paralyzed. Leaving the house with dirty hair (and throwing on a cap) when washing my hair just wasn’t feasible, leaving the house with unstyled hair because I forgot to have my PCA help me, and those are just two stories. It’s almost too easy to have a bad hair day when you’re paralyzed.

But I’ve been adamant about preventing this from happening, wanting to love my hair no matter what, and I went online looking for products that would help me be as independent as possible with my hair. Surprisingly, I found a few.

Make no mistake, there are going to be days where you’re not going to be able to have your hair the way you like, but there’s a lot you can still do to style your hair; a few products that will blow you away, and ones I personally can’t live without. Check them out below.

Headbands Forever

When you can’t move your fingers, using a hair binder to pull back your hair on your own is impossible, which is why many women who are quadriplegics opt for shorter hair-dos.  It’s kind of removes the need to do your hair. I however love having long hair and have committed myself to finding workarounds, and the headband is one of the best.

It takes minimal arm movement to slide one on and they’re so popular right now you’ll find amazing headbands wherever you go; skinny headbands of the big flower on the side, leather headbands reminiscent of native Americans, giant oversized headbands to give you a Boho look, I can’t get enough.

Blow Dryer Stand

If you have weaker arms and can’t hold a hair dryer, the amazingly handy blow dryer stand will change your world. A 2 1/2 ft. tall stand that sits on your bathroom counter top, just place your blow dryer in the stand, angle it towards you, then turn it on; instant hands-free blow drying. Awesome invention overload.

Check it out: Blow Dryer Stand

Jelly Handle Brush

If you are sick of using an adapted brush with a T-strap to hold it, you may want to try a Conair Gel Grip brush. They sell these everywhere – Target, Wal-Mart and drug stores – and it also doesn’t hurt that it’s a fine quality brush. Above all however, this brush is very easy to hold. The jelly handle is about 2 inches round in diameter, making it perfect to wedge into a quad hand.

Check it out: Conair Paddle Gel Grip Brush

Baby Powder

When you’re in a pinch and have dirty hair and not the ability to spray an aerosol can of dry shampoo, your best option is using baby power. You can sprinkle a little bit in your brush and comb your hair as you usually would. This helps clean your hair because the powder absorbs oil, plus if you get the scented kind of baby powder (magnolia blossom, lavender or cool cucumber), your hair will smell good all day.

Check it out: Scented baby powder

Whenever you do, don’t shave all your hair off in a moment of frustration.  I know it can be hard, no incredibly difficult, to not let your temper get the best of you when doing your hair with limited finger movement, but if you can manage to stay calm and not let it get the best of you, I promise you’ll find a way to create a hair-do on your own that you love.

What hair products could you never live without?

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

Guilty Pleasures to Keep My Happy Up

When you have a disability, it’s easy to have more bad days than good. Maybe I’m speaking for myself, but that seems to be the case for a number of us at least. More things can go bad when you’re dependent on more things, from wheelchairs and van ramps breaking to PCAs not showing up.

I’ve found when I have those bad days, those really really bad days when I wish my disability to go away forever (hey we’ve all had those days), I’ve found nothing helps more than doing something off my “guilty pleasures” list. Yes that’s right, I have a list dedicated to my guilty pleasures and it’s helped me through a lot of bad moments.

When you’re alone and have no one to talk to, or just think you don’t, doing a simple thing that makes you immensely happy – a guilty pleasure – can be more effective than taking a pill; believe me. There’s something so soothing about a guilty pleasure…even more than you might realize.

Maybe you already know this and employ it often, but if you don’t and aren’t sure what your guilty pleasures are, perhaps my list will help. Check out a few of my favorite items from my guilty pleasures list that helps keep my happy up.

Chocolate Glazed Donuts

They may be a trend right now, but I’ve always loved donuts, ever since my church would put out simple glazed doughnuts after service as a kid. And after my injury, donuts strangely began had an especially healing effect on me. Maybe it was because they reminded me of happier days, and my favorite donut by far – chocolate glazed.

These two things – chocolate AND glaze – are the best worlds of yumminess in a single donut, and surprisingly Market Pantry (Target’s off-brand) is one of the best out there. You can get 6 of these delicious bad-day melters for only a $1.50, which makes them one of the cheapest most tasty guilty pleasures ever. These unfortunately however are only available in-store, but they’re worth it.

Check them out: Find the Target nearest you

Silk Scarves

When you have limited sensation in your lower extremities, pampering your upper extremities is hugely important to keep your sanity, and nothing feels better than a little bit of silk on the skin. When you have quadriplegia, this means wrapping your neck and shoulders in silk; aka just put on a silk scarf goshdarnit.

I have had several silk scarves in my day, for the best one I’ve had by far is one I recently bought from MommaGoddess on Etsy, dyed in beautiful rainbow colors. It is so soft and feels so wonderful it helps me forget the crazy world outside everytime I wear it. Plus, the bright colors make me feel like I’m Rainbow Brite. Winning.

Check it out: Hand-Dyed Over the Rainbow Silk Scarf

Caramel Rolls

Another pastry that calls my name on a bad day are the quintessential caramel rolls. Warm and soft sweet rolls drizzled with caramel and stuffed inside and out with pecans; how can anything be more delicious? Having one in front of me ready to be devoured is a visual pleasure trumps any flat tire or memory of a rude stare.

And the greatest thing about caramel rolls, it’s really easy to eat just one because many places only sell them singularly, and one of my favorite places to get one is Cinnabon; the high school haunt of my youth that I’m darn glad is still around today.  They’re giant, warm pastries of amazingness and they’re worth every dollar, which will set you back about four of them these days. #worthit

Check them out: Caramel Pecanbons

Dove Dry Shampoo

If you’re a girl, chances are feeling pretty is a guilty pleasure too. Getting your nails done, your hair foiled or maybe just buying something pretty can help you feel worlds better. In my world, nothing makes me feel prettier than sexy hair, and Dove’s Dry Shampoo – a product that was released a few years ago  – makes my hair look amazing with just a quick squirt.

It’s infused with powder that cleans your hair in an instant and it smells just like Dove soap, one of my favorite smells in the world. No longer do I need a PCA to look fabulous, and that feels better than anything.

Check it out: Dove Refresh+Care Dry Shampoo

Strawberry Milk Straws

I’m not sure why, but I really like artificial strawberry flavoring; another vestige of my youth no doubt. Making my own strawberry milk on the fly however is not easy when you have paralyzed fingers. I could buy it already mixed of course, but the strawberry milk straws from Magic Milk, that flavor your milk as you drink it, is so much more fun.

These inadvertently are the perfect thing for people with upper-body disabilities. Tiny sliver crystals jam-packed into the straw that once moistened by the milk, they release their awesome flavor. No spoons, mixing or anything else required. And they come in other tasty flavors too – chocolate, cookies ‘n cream, vanilla and strawberry banana.

Check them out: Magic Milk Straws

The moral of my story: Utilize your guilty pleasures for a higher purpose when you have a disability. Get smart, recognize what makes you happy and use those things as your bad-day arsenal when needed. Trust me, it really works.

What guilty pleasures help you after a bad day?

Products mentioned

Hand-Dyed Over the Rainbow Silk Scarf

Caramel Pecanbons

Dove Refresh+Care Dry Shampoo

Magic Milk Straws

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Having Both an OCD Cleaning Streak and Quadriplegia

You’re either born with the cleaning gene or you’re not. In my case, I definitely was, and I got it from my mother.  There’s no doubt about that out.  My father is definitely not known for his peerless cleaning skills; that so much is sure.

And so as a kid, every weekend I helped my mom clean the house. I began to love the methodical nature of it.  The smells, seeing instant results from your hard work; cleaning became a very satisfying experience in my world.  I absolutely loved it.  My grandparents even used to tease me for my incessant patio sweeping.

So when my spinal cord injury occurred and I went home, it began to dawn on me how much I wouldn’t be able to do anymore, and cleaning was one of those things that seemed impossible to do from a wheelchair.  It made me so sad too. I thought I’d never be able to clean independently anymore.

This is what I thought when I first became disabled.  It came so hard though, just sitting there…looking at messes, and even worse – not being able to do anything about them. I had to do something. I had to figure out a way to still be able to clean a little.  And so after some creative thinking, I found I could still clean. Maybe not like a hired housekeeper anymore, but I did find there were a handful of things I could still do.

One of the first things I discovered I could do was surfaces. Sure, that’s the easy part of cleaning, but when you can only move your biceps and parts of your wrists, just wiping surfaces can be tricky. Try reaching the end of the counter when you’re triceps don’t work. Not easy. But after some trial and error, I discovered that with a sturdy washcloth under my hand and some homemade cleaning spray (a half and half mixture of liquid dish soap and white vinegar; love this cleaner), it was more than possible.

Pulling back on the nozzle to spray cleaner however is not easy to do.  When you don’t have any finger movement you have to get creative.  You can either open the bottle and pour some on the washcloth, or you can do what I do (because you like the “spray” effect) is to hold the cleaner in your mouth and I use your hand/fist to pull it back.  It’s certainly not pretty but it works.  You definitely have to take your ego out of it when cleaning as a quad.

Another cleaning chore I found I could still do was vacuuming. How glamorous heh. But I gotta say – figuring out this one made me giddy.  Since a vacuum was too heavy to use anymore, I bought a Dust Buster and that my friends was the ultimate vacuum-roadblock solution.  Sure, you can’t use a Dust Buster to vacuum your entire place, but being able to vacuum up “something” if I spill anything is awesome.

It can be hard to hold it firmly, but I can use it for a minute or so and get the job done.  It’s always a good idea to get a Dust Buster with a longer handle if you have dexterity problems, if you can find one that is.  I really like anything from Black & Decker.

Dusting is another cleaning activity I’ve figured out how to do. I use Swiffer Sweeper Dusters – that plastic handheld dusting device you insert dusting “cloths” into. The reason I love this little thingamajiger so much is because the handles are easy to hold for people with closed hands like me – skinny and sturdy.  You can just push the handle into your fist and it’ll stay. Every week I go around my condo dusting without any issues thanks to these.

It’s funny. Who would’ve thought cleaning would bring so much joy to quadriplegic?   It’s the little things my friends….the little things. Now, time to get your creative cleaning on.  And remember, think outside the box as much as you can.

What cleaning products and tricks have you found that work good awesomely in spite of limited mobility?

Products Recommended

– Black & Decker Dust Buster

– Swiffer Sweeper Dusters

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

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