Category Archives: Spinal Cord Injury

The 5-Minute Makeup Routine of a Quadriplegic

Every woman dreams of a futuristic world where we can just hit a button like Judy Jetson and have instantly fabulous makeup. No more rushed eyeliner jobs that look like a toddler did it, no more squiggly lip liner, just perfect evenly-applied foundation that looks flawless yet completely natural. Oh yes, this is the future I want.

Instantaneous beauty would also be a boon to ladies with arm and hand mobility disabilities; helping us look as good as we want, with no longer having to let our disabilities prevent us from looking fabulous. Unfortunately however, such a Jetson-esque gadget is still a ways away, leaving it up to us to discover makeup and tricks that work for us.

After trying out dozens of makeup tricks, methods, products and more, I’ve developed my perfect “go-to” 5 minute makeup routine which I can do completely independently. If you’re newly injured or just trying to get back into the makeup game, check out my routine below. Hopefully it’ll help!

Step #1: Wash and Moisturize

I always moisturize right before applying concealer/foundation. This is one of my number one beauty secrets, so make sure you try this. And I don’t use soap everytime I wash my face (far too drying for my fair skin), but I always use L’Oreal’s Age Radiance BB Cream each morning.

This is their “Beauty Balm” cream (where “BB” gets its name from) and it’s amazing. It’s a daily moisturizer, sunscreen, illumination and foundation all-in-one; eliminating several steps from my skin routine which is awesome when you can’t move your fingers. And this beauty balm replaces my liquid foundation. Didn’t think it would, but it surprised me.

Check it out: L’Oreal Age Perfect BB Cream

Step #2: Apply Concealer Where Needed

My next step is applying concealer, but only where it’s absolutely needed. I’m in my mid thirties, which means the skin under my eyes is becoming thinner, so I always must put concealer here every morning to even out my skin tone (and it makes me look younger; dark circles are hugely aging).

I dab and gently smear the concealer when applying it with the back of my hand, which works rather well with my hand disability and makes it look really natural.  Any type of concealer with a wand brush is good if you have dexterity issues. Just pat gently where it’s needed, then dab-dab-dab the area until you can’t see the concealer anymore.

Check it out: Mineral Power Natural Perfecting Concealer In Beige

Step #3: Apply Bronzer and Blush

After evening out my skin tone with BB cream and concealer, I use Neutrogena’s Natural Bronzer (in Sunkissed), which is a beautiful palette of brown tones to shade my face and highlight its structure; a critical step. I use a big blush brush with a long wooden handle and just shade around my face of a hairline, my cheekbones, the top of my nose, my chin…anywhere the sun would naturally hit.

I also close my eyes and apply bronzer on my eyelids. After that I use a small amount of blush on my cheekbones and eyelids to finish it off using the same big blush brush.

Check it out: Neutrogena Healthy Skin (Sunkissed)

Check it out: CG Cheekers

Step #4: Apply Eyeshadow

To make my makeup routine even quicker, I use the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Bronzer as my eyeshadow as well, but I use long handles eyeshadow brushes to apply the bronzer as a eyeshadow. I’ll first use the lighter colors as the base all over the lid, and then I’ll use the darker colors just for the lid covering the eye. I use my knuckle to blend the two areas, and it’s done.

Step #5: Apply Mascara

To make my routine fast I also skip eyeliner entirely and just use mascara.  If you apply it right, that’s all you need to look good in a jiffy. I love Maybelline’s Great Lash Mascara too. The wand is very dainty and makes it easy to apply when you’re trying to hold the mascara bottle in a clenched fist with no finger movement. I’ve found this is the best mascara for that. And their “Blackest Black” is a freaking awesome color.

When I apply it, I make sure to apply the lower last as well since I’m not using eyeliner. This is pretty important, so make sure not to skip it. And if you mess up, which I do a lot, just use a Q-Tip dipped in water, wrung out, then gently dabbed in lotion to remove any mascara smudges you may have made.

Check it out: Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Step #6: Apply Lip gloss

To top off my quick makeup look, I add a bit of lip gloss, but the healthy stuff – Carmex’s Cherry Lip Balm Stick – so it looks and feels good (and it’s nice to kiss). I love this stuff in the winter, but I use it all year. I add a bit of tint by barely lining my lips with a brown or pink lip liner first and then filling in my lips with the Carmex.

Check it out: Carmex Cherry Lip Balm Stick

The whole point of my my makeup routine was to make it as easy and fudge-free as possible – something you can do in a rush, in about 5 minutes, even if your fingers don’t work. I do use my mouth a lot as well, to open caps and to wedge brushes in between my fingers, but I make it work, and hopefully you too will be able to do the same.

Now get out there and look beautiful.

What makeup products do you swear by for your disability?

Products mentioned

L’Oreal Age Perfect BB Cream

Mineral Power Natural Perfecting Concealer In Beige

Neutrogena Healthy Skin (Sunkissed)

CG Cheekers

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Carmex Cherry Lip Balm Stick

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

Thoughtful Gifts for Safer Cooking

41okrFQJoDL._SY300_The other day a glorious thing happened. I received one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received from a man I was dating. And it was a Christmas gifts too. Love, love, love.

He had wrapped four separate gives that were all intended for me, and all had a special purpose in which to make my life easier (that sure beat the unwrapped box of chocolate covered peanuts my ex-boyfriend got me last year).

You see I love to cook. And if you look at some of my past blog posts you’ll see this to be true in all its glory. I can’t move my fingers though, just my arms and wrists, so that makes cooking a bit tricky; even a bit dangerous as the burns on my hands will tell.

Because of this a very thoughtful person decided to gift me with a handful of gifts that all explicitly helped me out in this area of my life. Never had I ever received such a thoughtful gift before. Check out what he bought me below.

Ceramic knife

If you have a hard time moving your hands, the last thing you need is a big clumsy knife that isn’t sharp. I never knew they existed before, but there is such a thing as a ceramic knife and they amazing. I would say the weight difference is about 65% lighter. That’s a huge change for anyone, let alone someone who can only move half of the muscles in their arm.

He purchased a Faberware Chef’s Knife that’s ceramic.The one drawback to these knives is that they have a tendency to chip, so be careful when handling them and don’t let them hit anything too hard.

Check it out: Faberware Ceramic Chef Knife

Straight straws

Many people with disabilities are addicted to using straws, and I’m one of these crazy straw lovers. It all started in the hospital and I haven’t looked back since. They’re just so handy, especially when you can’t pick up a cup unless it has a handle (so lame). But any straw just won’t do. I really dislike flexible straws. When they’re in a cup and bent, the liquid always leaks out. One of my biggest pet peeves.

The natural solution is getting straight straws of course, but finding these is not easy. It seems they’re going to the wayside with flexible straws taking over the world. But if you look closely in certain stores, they can still be found. My awesome gifter found straight straws on Amazon. Now I need like 20 more boxes.

Check them out: Perfect Stix Clear Straight Straws

Silicone baking mat

In an attempt to help me cook safely and with less burns, he next got me a Healthy Chef Baking Mat. This brilliant invention is made out of silicone and can withstand temperatures up to 428 degrees. While its original intention is to put it in the oven as a cookie sheet to make food healthier (it has raised mounds to encourage grease to drip away from the food), it can also be cut up and used as a shield from the heat.

What we plan on doing is cutting a small piece to fit the outside of my hand, which is where a majority of my cooking burns occur. We’ll glue it to a Velcro strap back that will go around my hand to complete it. Can’t wait to show you guys how it turns out once it’s done.

Check it out: Healthy Chef Baking Mat

No-break acrylic dishware

About 10 years ago I got smart and started buying acrylic dishware. I can drop it without worrying about it breaking. That’s a huge bonus in my world. Lately however I’ve lost several of my pieces. So my very thoughtful gifter also decided to purchase me an adorable acrylic cereal bowl. And he bought one in a girly print that makes my mornings a bit cooler now, a Pikachu bowl.

Check it out: Pokemon Cereal Bowl

Don’t you think I’m not appreciating this very thoughtful gift too. This kind of thoughtfulness is rare and doesn’t happen every day, even though every girl deserves it.

What is one of the most thoughtful gifts you’ve received?

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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.

Insomnia Essentials When You’re Literally Stuck in Bed

Over the last eight years I’ve developed a bad case of insomnia, and lately it’s worse because my arms are weaker and adjusting myself in bed is more difficult.  Definitely not fun. And when I get in bed, I’m there until someone comes in the morning to get me back out.

It all started because of a big move. I moved downtown where it’s inevitably louder on a daily basis. 30% of time there’s construction going on right outside your window, car alarms, and people yelling at one another on the sidewalk.  Quietness is definitely not an attribute to use when talking about my neighborhood.

I quickly discovered of course that getting solid interrupted sleep when you live in the city takes some getting used to, or if you’re like me, you never get used to it and find a few essential items help you fall asleep instead.  And I’m not talking about Ambien either.  While I still rarely get 8 hours of sleep, I can still get great sleep, but only if I have my must-haves.

If you’re suffering from insomnia and have a disability, check out my must-have items to help me fall asleep.

Silk eye mask

An eye mask is a huge must, but not all eye masks are created equal.  Fabric is key when choosing an eye mask. Silk eye masks are smooth and great for the skin because they won’t anger your pores.  Avoid terrycloth eye masks because they can be too itchy. Also, I sleep on my back every night because of limited mobility, and the one bonus of this position is that I can “wear” my eye mask by setting it on my face, nixing the strap  Having an eye mask strap on all night can give many people, including me, a wicked headache.

Ear plugs

Ear plugs are another must for beating insomnia. While some people like to hear white noise or even a television when trying to fall asleep, I like to hear absolutely nothing, and that means no sirens, no late night bar stranglers, nothing but perfect quietness.  My fingers are paralyzed however and the average pair of ear plugs won’t work for me. What I found on Amazon.com however was a pair of ear plugs made for swimming that have tiny quarter inch nubs on each end, making them perfect for grabbing with my thumb and forefinger; the two fingers I can still sort-of use.

Melatonin

This is a natural supplement, mimicking a chemical found in the brain that helps us feel sleepy.  About a year ago I bought a bottle of melatonin and have been taking it since.  I love how I can pop a pill that’s not a crazy drug and get sleepy. But please, be wary of how much you take each night.  3 to 5 mg is just enough. Try taking anything more and it may help you fall sleep, but you may develop some mouth sores in the process. Stick to the lower doses and see how your body responds.

Take your sleepy meds at night

Another smart thing you can do to make yourself tired is to take any medicines that you take on a daily basis that cause sleepiness right before going to bed.  This can be one of the best ways to get sleep without having to resort to stronger drugs.  I take 20 mg of Baclofen and 5 mg of Oxybutynin and I make sure I take them at night. Holy cow do these medicines help me get sleepy.

There you have it – how a quad falls asleep when battling insomnia, and I can’t forgot one more thing that helps me fall asleep: House Hunters International.  There’s something awesome about watching people move overseas into beautiful homes that makes me want to fall asleep and dream.

Do you experience insomnia?  How you fall asleep?

Secrets to a Having a Hospital Experience You Don’t Totally Hate

Dr. Elliott, my Conan O’Brien look-a-like urologist who wears a boy-tie, and his “under doctor,” the student doc who observes and learns from the “master” (Dr. Elliott is considered one of the best urologists in Minnesota), who looks like a sexy heterosexual version of Zachary Quinto, were definitely one of the highlights of my bladder cystoscopy/botox injection/biopsy procedure last Friday.

See, I’ve always been a girl who looks on the bright side of things. When you’re in a crappy situation that cannot be avoided, ie, a cysto caused by a neurogenic bladder, there aren’t many options worth talking about, but there is one that can help you through it – looking at the positives that still exist.

Some people think of this as grasping at straws, but really it’s just the smart thing to do. Having a disability can try you. Coping smartly is huge. And believe me when I say this – looking at the positives isn’t just “positive,” it’s the logical next step.

And so I tallied the positives: My doctors were hot and fascinating, the painkillers were delightful, the procedure didn’t require me to stay overnight, and the best part – the procedure was successful. The 8 hours of crappiness were 100% worth it. And on a side-note: Botox injections in the bladder are awesome.

Also, do what I do – bring items that make you the happiest – your own pillow, an eye mask, your favorite drink (I bring warm water in a mug), a book you actually like to read. Phone service isn’t always guaranteed; especially if you’re in the OR area. Waiting un-entertained is the first thing you want to avoid of when you’re at the hospital.

Another item I keep close at hand in an overnight situation is my laptop – my window to the world. But you can’t always trust the staff. Having the computer in a case locked up tight near you is a must. And I bring my neck warmer; my old lady creature comfort that really is one of the best physical pleasures I still have. Hopefully a microwave will be at the nurse’s station if this is you.

You also need to keep it simple, so in effect, these are all of my must-haves in a nutshell. I’ve figured out my favorites, and I stick with those. As long as I have my must-haves, nothing can bug me when I’m there, except a really crappy nurse of course.

And they’ll never make me love the hospital, but they do help me feel like I have some control of the situation, and as we all know, having some kind of control is one of the most powerful weapons you can have when facing something you have no choice but to confront.

I hope…I hope one day visiting the hospital frequently enough to be familiar with all of this won’t be as necessary in my life, but in the meantime, I plan on taking a proactive approach to ensuring my happiness in every medical situation as much as possible…Gold help me so.

How do you cope at the hospital?

Products I love

– Earth Therapeutics Anti-Stress Neck Pillow

– MiGo 20 oz. mug

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Dreaming of Dancing in the Rain

While I can’t fully prance around in Wellies whenever the rain comes billowing in, even though a good pair is nice to have if you can’t walk, I still have a deep-seeded love for a warm rainshower. I grew up dancing in the summer rain. If it was summer and raining, I was out there. But my wheelchair however, now that I need to use one, is sadly not on the same page.

You hear the thunder, and you run out there to catch it. Before you know it you’re soaked, your hair is dripping down your back and you feel like you’re channeling a 21 year old at Woodstock. This is my happy place. But my power wheelchair is fueled by two regular car batteries. It is so not meant to be poured on.

Sprinkles are ok, even a steady rain for a few minutes, but no power wheelchair can safely spend hours on end in the rain. Trust me I’ve tried. There are just too many crevices and cracks the drops can seep into. Simply put: If you’re out longer in hard rain more than 10 minutes, I can tell you from experience – your joystick will start fritzing out; but don’t panic.

Just get yourself out of the rain, and wait overnight for the joystick to dry out, which thankfully (whew) it will. My poor-lady solution to the annoying sudden rain shower that can spontaneously occur is to tie an old plastic bag from Target around my joystick. And it works. It’ll try to blow away if you go too fast, but just tie it snugly. I always make sure I keep one in my purse too.

There is no plastic bag large enough though that would allow me to really spend quality time in the rain. I could throw a wheelchair rain poncho over me, or even an extra large plastic bag made for lawn clippings, but those aren’t 100% fail safe in the event of a deluge, which is what my soul craves big time.

I will say however there is one okay solution – a giant golf umbrella duct-taped to my wheelchair. If it’s big enough, it can cover everything that needs to be covered, but the only problem – it completely separates me from feeling the rain. Again, another lame accessible “solution” where we get the shaft and miss out on the physical-ness of an activity. Click here for a cool wheelchair umbrella research project

So at this point I’m finally considering getting in my manual chair as my last chance effort. It’s not the greatest solution since I can’t push myself that well, therefore being unable to “prance” around like I’d like to, but at least I’ll be able to finally separate myself from my “conjoined twin” and feel the rain on my face, skin, hair, and feel reborn again in the rain; the beautiful, beautiful rain.

Here’s to hoping a cool yellow waterproof wheelchair, all sporty just like a waterproof camera, may one day become available. Or at the very least, some kind of amazing skin-tight rain jacket for a powerchair.

Is there a real-deal waterproof power wheelchair out there, other than Sue Austin’s famed powered diving wheelchair that is (link)? If anyone knows from experience, please share.

Recommended Products

– Wellies from Isotoner

– Wheelchair Umbrella w/ holder

– Waterproof Wheelchair Poncho 

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.

Thrift Store Finds Made Cooler

“Re-furbished” top

Five years ago an amazing thing happened in my world. I was enlightened to the existence of thrifting. It may be a seemingly trivial thing to those with copious amounts of money, but for someone who lives on a fixed income, it has unhinged my world. Goodwill, Salvation Army, garage sales, rummage sales – give ’em here.

The sport, nay the art form of thrifting has been kept alive the middle and lower class masses for decades, helping up furnish our homes and help us look cool on the cheap. Where else can you find a pair of mid ’80s Guess jeans for only $10? Or an amazing sectional couch for only $200? Sure, it may be covered in cat hair, but that’s what lint rollers are for.

If only I has known how cool thrifting was when I was in college. Back in my crazy collegiate days, only new would do. Thrifting was happening, but not in my world. But now it’s 2013 and I as well as the entire world has changed. Thrifting is now cool, and that’s especially true for anything that’s been used or reused multiple times.

At 25 is when I discovered I could replenish my wardrobe each season for $50 while thrifting, and I haven’t looked back since. And oh my the tricks I’ve come across. Sometimes however it can be a hit or miss when thrifting, especially when you don’t try on things until you get home.

I never try on things in dressing rooms as a wheelchair-user. It’s just too hard. And sometimes, I can’t find the size I want. So I opt for a much more creative solution in lieu of disposing the item, or not buying it – I’ll just cut it or re-fashion it to still make it work.

YouTube gave me this idea years ago, and my thrifting finds have not been the same since. You can do so much with a pair of scissors, and even a little duck tape if you use a wheelchair. One of my favorite things to do is make a short-sleeved cardigan out of a long-sleeved cardigan by  chopping off the arms above the elbow, then rolling it up a couple times so you’d never be able to tell.

I also love to cut t-shirts into tank tops, one-shoulder tanks, even cutting a bigger neckline so it gives me more shape, and adding a cute scarf. And when you cut thrift store finds, you don’t have to stress about ruining them since the item was is cheap. $2 – $4 t-shirts with funny retro sayings are perfect for this.

And I’ll also use black fabric paint to cover up marks on darker clothing, or even use duct tape to make a shirt look tighter by taping the back closer together. There are a lot of cool fixes you can make to clothing when you can’t walk since hiding jerry-rigs is so much easier.

And when in doubt, a thread and needle can be your best friend, or your caregiver’s. And a solid laundry detergent is also a must too, since thrift store finds always carry that oh-so-lovely smell. A fresh scent dryer sheet can make a purchase seem totally brand new, and you can’t get better than that.

So if you haven’t given thrifting a full go, now is the time. Fall is almost here….it’s the perfect time to start thrifting for a cute coat before they’re all gone, or a football jersey if that’s your thing. Search online for a local thrift shop that offers different daily deals too. The stores that offer discounts each Monday are the best.

Truly anything, even my bedside rolling table, can be found while out thrifting. It has become my new, quite addicting, hobby.

Ok, time to head out thrifting again. bbiab.

Recommended Products

– Bounce Fresh Linen Dryer Sheets

– Quad friendly scissors to cut clothing

– Mini sewing kit

– Black fabric touch-up paint

Quadriplegic Wins Modeling Competition

Take a stroll down the makeup aisle. Chances are not one of those women in any of the ads plastering the aisle have any kind of disability. But now a 21 year old woman from Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, is changing all of that. Jessica Kruger, a C7 quadriplegic (injured in a fall from a ladder when she was 15), has won an online modeling contest put on my Lise Watier, a very cool Canadian makeup company. Read more about her win

I always though women with disabilities wanting to get into modeling should target makeup modeling opportunities. In most photos for makeup, all you see is the model from the chest up, so our inability to walk wouldn’t ruin the shot in anyway. It really is a perfect way for us to still model. And if you have a particularly stunning face, such as in Jessica Kruger’s case, this is where you should start first.

How She Won

And the online contest was set up by Lise to find the face of their new “Something Sweet” perfume, and over 400 wanna-be models entered. What’s cool is that Jessica got in the top 5 by user votes only. The top 5 then went to the Lise Watier HQ to get interviewed by their execs, with Jessica coming out as the winner. “I’m in shock,” Jessica said about winning, who entered just for fun not thinking she’d ever have a chance.

And that’s what gets me really. She didn’t expect to win. No one expects the masses to see our beauty. I know this from first-hand experience myself. And when you’re surprised and humanity does see your beauty to the point of giving you a modeling contract, it’s pretty hard to hold onto any lingering sadness at that point. I can only imagine how good that cloud feels where Jessica is hanging out right now.

Lise Watier plans on creating a series of ads featuring Jessica, including magazine ads, online videos and product ads at Shoppers Drug Mart, where the perfume will be available. I think what I love most about this story other than the fact that the world is finally seeing a model with paralysis in mainstream beauty ads, is that Jessica is an athlete – the youngest female quad rugby player in all of Canada actually. A well-rounded girly girl who ALSO has a disability – gotta love that.

Will We See Application Tips from Jessica?

I hope in some of the videos where they show Jessica sporting her makeup, looking gorgeous, they also show her putting on her makeup herself. With partially paralyzed hands, which she has, putting on makeup takes some serious skill. I’m in the same boat she is and have found a few makeup products that work great for my hands.

One of my “must-haves” is my CoverGirl Perfect Point Eyeliner in Black Onyx. There’s something in this eyeliner that makes it glide on like a dream, don’t know what it is (wax?), but it still shows up quite nice even if you can’t press it hard. I also would be 100% lost with my long-handle makeup brushes. The extra-long handles are perfect for wedging between paralyzed fingers.

I also would cry like a baby if they ever discontinued Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Bronzer in Sunkissed; best shade ever. This color is so forgiving when it comes to uneven application, which can happen, because it’s comprised of several color palettes combined into out, helping to blur over any imperfections.

I really hope Jessica’s win and subsequent ads truly change misconceptions people have about people with disabilities. A pretty face has a lot of power, and people will take note.

Watch a video interviewing Jessica about the competition

Do you wear makeup everyday? What tricks help you out each morning?

Check out the products recommended in the post

– CoverGirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner

– Neutrogena Healthy Skin Bronzer in Sunkissed

– Long handle makeup brushes from MAC

Dodging Pressure Sore Close Calls

They say when we’re asleep our skin works overtime, healing all those nicks we’ve accumulated. Skin can heal so much better when it’s given a chance, but that’s kind of hard to do when you’re constantly sitting. No wonder people in wheelchairs constantly have skin problems.

The fear of getting a bed sore has been one of my number one concerns since sustaining a spinal cord injury and so far I’ve managed to prevent a full blown bed sore that’s required best rest or surgery. And at 20 years post-injury, that’s quite the feat. When I look back, I’m actually surprised I managed to pull it off. It was definitely a combination of being over the top vigilant along with finding a few magical products.

Here is how I’ve been able to keep my skin in the best shape possible as a quadriplegic for 20 years straight.

Inflatable toilet seat: When you’re dealing with a lack of sensation AND lowered blood flow, all of this spells bad news for the skin. One of the worst/most common places someone in a wheelchair will get a sore too is on their butt. The one time I had a minor scare in this area was near my tail bone; that bony protrusion that is the bane of so many wheelchair-users existence.

I had gotten a new wheelchair, my knees were raised too high I didn’t notice, and after having my new chair for only a month, I develop the very early stage of a sore on my tail bone, BUT I nipped it in the butt literally by using an inflatable toilet seat in bed each night, healing it in a month.

My doctors had really wanted me to turn every few hours, but I lived alone, which meant doing so would have been impossible. I instead found this inflatable plastic toilet seat online, placed the center of it underneath me where my tailbone issue was so no pressure was on it as I was lying down, and within a month I had healed that area.  While some doctors don’t necessarily recommend this, but since I’m lightweight, it worked pretty ok.

Purchase an inflatable toilet seat

Custom seating: After that skin scare, I decided to change the style of seating I was using. Instead of using the traditional Roho as my wheelchair sea, I had my butt pressure mapped to have a custom seat and back made for me by a local custom wheelchair seating clinic, Gillette. While there’s literally a hole underneath my butt where I’m sitting in my wheelchair now, this seating has been one of the best things I’ve ever for my long-term health as a quadriplegic.

Check out seating clinics near you

Cabot POL cream: Another issue that people with spinal cord injuries can frequently run into is a skin condition called cellulitus. This condition makes the skin swell and turn red from minor skin bacteria that can get under the top layer of flesh (small scratches on the skin is all it takes).  If you rub your armor legs on anything from a armrest to a brace often, you increase your chances for this condition, and I have gotten it quite often.

To prevent it, I was referred to this new unheard of arm lotion from someone online. She told me to purchase Cabot POL cream, a body cream with lipids that prevents cellulitus from happening in the first place. What you do is put in on all over your body right after a shower, and the lipids and work to create a barrier on the skin.

Purchase Cabot POL Cream

Extreme vigilance: And another thing I’ve learned is that you can never be too careful with your skin. If say, your toe is looking like it needs to heal, don’t risk it and instead, do what I do and wear sandals that day.  When you have compromised skin, something seemingly small can turn into a really bad sore in a matter of 12 to 24 hours. While some people may think you’re being over the top when it comes to small scratches, they don’t know what it’s like to have to wait months on end for the skin to heal.

Taking care of your skin is without question a second job when you’re paralyzed, and it’s a job you can’t quit. I plan on going 20 more years bed sore-free.

How do you prevent pressure sores?  Any secrets?

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.

You Can’t Get AC Everywhere: How I Stay Cool

Staying cool is crazy hard when you can’t sweat. Not being able to sweat of course is a side-effect of living with paralysis. One of the worst, actually, but this entry isn’t a pity party entry. Not today, my friends. This entry is all about finding solutions. The solution-finder. That should be my middle name.

I don’t care where you’re at – in your van, car, stuck in bed with a broke AC unit,maybe you’re outside at a music festival and shade is no where to be found. Here are my favorite ways to stay cool.

Sun shade

Southern belles had the right idea when they, and the ladies before them for centuries on back, used a sun umbrella to keep their fair skin as white as snow. That gave me an idea after visiting the local Renaissance fair, and my sun shade has been my last ditch go-to cooling method when finding shade is otherwise impossible. And gosh do they work quite well.

– Sun Parasols

Of course snagging one is a light color is a good idea. Mine is red and works good, but white would be much better. As for holding the darn thing while driving; that isn’t always easy. If you have a hard time holding a sun shade as you drive or push your chair, here’s a cool wheelchair umbrella-holder to consider

– Paraplis Umbrella Holder for Wheelchairs

Battery-powered fan w/ mister

Manually fanning yourself is so pre-Edison. Embrace electricity in the shape of a battery-power personal misting fan. I can’t fan myself too long without getting a tired arm and last year after the AC in my van broke, I turned to one of these as a way to keep myself cool upon arrival to my destination (setting it up to spray/mist me as I drive is still something I’d still love to figure out).

This product is one of the most fabulous cooling devices to be invented in recent years. As you know, sweat helps the body cool by coming into contact with air, and this mister pretty much does exactly that. Of course the batteries need to get replaced frequently if you use it a lot, but the thing works good. Every person out there with sweating issues should get one of these in their first-aid kit, stat.

– O2 Cool

Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Body Mist

I first came upon this magical stuff a couple years ago when I was in Denver, CO on a road trip. I was all blistery red from the extreme sun exposure which is common in high-elevation cities (learned the hard way!) and my sunscreen had run out. So I was in Target for a pit-stop, and I found Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Body Mist SPF 70.

The “cooling mist” intrigued me and boy was I pleasantly surprised. This stuff cooled my skin the second I sprayed it on, and it lingers. It really is a great thing to have if you’ve been burned and need a quick way to cool off.

– Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Body Mist SPF70

Gatorade

I know some people may think Gatorade is reserved for the athletes and the wanna-be Michael Jordan’s of the world, but there is healing power in them there electrolytes, and you can only get them in liquid form with Gatorade, well easily at least. Electrolytes are what your body needs if it’s overheating and needs to rehydrate asap, which btw is kinda essential to staying cool.

There are a million Gatorade flavors out there, but beware – not all of them are great; not by a long shot. But my favorites are Ice Blue, Grape and Strawberry. When summer hits, I make sure to keep a thing of Gatorade both in my fridge and in my van at all times. You just can’t be too safe. Messing around with possible heat strokes is no joke.

– Gatorade

The intense hot days look like they’re here to stay, which means your “stay cool” arsenal is just as important as your zombie and end-of-the-world arsenals. Be safe this summer, kids. I had a few close calls last summer and it was so scary stuff. Oh and remember when in a pinch, a cup of cold water over the head does the trick too.

How do you stay cool?

Photo courtesy of G. Briem

My Neverending Quest of Trying to Like Water

Raise your hand if this ever happens to you – you look at the watch and it’s been several hours, yet you’re uncannily not thirsty. Strange, right? This has been my reality my entire life. I was born a very un-thirsty person. So of course, after becoming someone with a spinal cord injury and a regular catheter-user, not liking water was the worst things I could possibly have a preference about.

My physiatrists, urologists and regular medical doctors have all pounded it into me too – you need to drink water constantly if you want any chance of living a comfortable life. Been dogged down with chronic UTI’s is no way to live, and unfortunately, this has been my reality the last 20 years. I’ve tried desperately to make palette fall in love with water, but still no love arrow has struck.

My first experiment was to try to drink cranberry juice as a replacement for water.  I can actually stand that more than water itself. But of course I quickly found out that cranberry juice does not make a good bladder “flusher” so-to-speak. So I moved onto my next theory, which came about in college. I found out that drinking warm to even hot water, plain, made it go down easier.

Yup, hot water. I know that sounds extremely gross to a lot ofpeople, but to me it’s one of the most delicious things ever. Simple, hot reverse-osmosis water (which I get in refill jugs from the grocery store), heated up. And I’m not the only one who prefers drinking hot water either. In parts of Asia, notably Vietnam, it’s common for elderly people to drink warm water on a regular basis. Maybe I was Asian in the past life?

And later on in college I discovered another way to make hot water go down even better – Canarino, hot lemon bags from Italy, which I ordered online. Each bag is stuffed with dried lemon rinds that put into hot water to give it brighter flavor. I’ve always been a fan of lemons and limes in cold water on a hot day, but on average days, hot water with a lemon bag can’t be beat.

And after college I went through a rather long phase of trying to make water even more interesting by using Crystal Light packets. The hot water with lemon can only entertain you 24/7 for so long. A little variation is key. However…I quickly became addicted to the fruit punch flavor, and drank it on a constant basis for at least a 3 to 4 years.

Little did I know it was full of horrible chemicals that made my bladder situation even worse. Remember this folks – Crystal Lights is full of chemicals and other questionable ingredients. Always try to go natural, and this is not the way to do it. I quit drinking Crystal Light a few years ago, and I noticed a huge difference right away.

And since quitting Crystal Light cold turkey, I’ve been back on the plain old hot water band wagon adding nothing but good vibes to each cup when I heat it up in the microwave (a solid 1:30 minutes each time = perfection). And my go-to cup that makes my whole life easier, letting me fill it up on my own without any issues is my MiGo plastic cup, a great cup I scored at Target several years ago.

The cup comes with an easy-to-remove plastic top, which helps keep my water warm for much longer time. The cup is great, but when I’m on the go I run into hydration issues (I’m still waiting on the built-in microwave for powerchairs). Drinking cold water is no quite difficult.

As it stands, I’ve become resistant to about half of the antibiotics prescribed for chronic UTI situations, and I’m not getting any younger. Drinking enough water more than ever is critical to my long-term survival. I’ve now become old enough to realize it doesn’t need taste good. I need to just do it. I’ll never love water, and I’m ok with that. Being around here long enough is what really matters.

What tricks do you have to meet your daily water quota?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Goodbye Bikini, Hello One Piece

After I became a quadriplegic, the one thing that feared me the most was becoming ugly. Fat, unattractive, out of style…I was worried that somehow my wheelchair would magically make me a troll.

I know, I know shallow vanity at its finest, but I was 14 and this line of thought was inevitable. After a couple rough years, I finally found a style groove, realized it was possible to still work it sitting down, which boosted my confidence. And by the time I was 19 I had amassed a collection of swimsuits.

See, when you live in a state where you suffer 9 months of cold for three brilliant months of summer, it’s easy to go overboard when you finally get the chance to buy summertime stuff. It’s just so darn fun. It’s like being 8 years old again and your dad just gave you a $10 bill to blow in the candy aisle.

Ever winter I would dream of all the aquatic scenarios emy swimsuits would get into- laying in the sun on my balcony, out at my mom’s patch of beach on a lake they live by, on the pontoon trying to hold on for dear life, even in the hot tub in my building. I couldn’t walk anymore, but these swimsuits gave me a sense of reclaiming of my AB life. I was still holding that torch of my personality tall and high.

But now, as I’ve gotten older, I’m beginning to look at my swimsuit collection a little differently. I have about 15 bikinis, 2 monokinis and 2 one-pieces, and most of those bikinis haven’t been worn in years. Are my 30+ years finally changing me clothing preferences?? Hrm. I thought I was immune to that.

After putting on bikinis in the past years, my body is starting to bug me. I see bones here and there, a quad guts that’s not bad, but bugs me nonetheless. I want perfection, but I know it’s not possible, so now I’ve decided to amp up my collection of one-piece swimsuits; the retro look that is making a comeback. And the good news – they’re not for older ladies anymore. One-pieces are super sexy now days.

Finally, a clothing trend works in my favor. The last time that happened was the long tank top trend and before that, tear-away athletic pants. Oh my PCA’s loved those. So now I’m having fun shopping around for one-pieces. Victoria’s Secret has a few great options, such as this RuchedHalter One-Piece. Still sexy in the important places, but a bit more coverage. I would even wear a pareo or flowy skirt with this too since I absolutely hate my thighs.

Otherwise, you can even buy a one-piece now that has a mini-short built into it, like this Romy Romper from Victoria’s Secret as well. And avoid strapless if you have a hard time pulling your tops back up.

And remember to always put on your sunscreen when going out in the sun this summer. The sun is getting stronger each year, and skin cancer is growing sadly. We all want to look cute, and skin cancer is so not cute. One of my favorite styles of sunscreen is the aerosol style, which is SUPER easy to put on if you have limited hand movement. My favorite is Neutrogena CoolingSpray with Sunblock. A great way to cool off if you have problems in that area too.

Where do you shop for swimsuits? What style do you think works best in a seated position?

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