Thursday, July 25, 2013

That'll leave a mark!

     Where to begin? This post is a toughie and is meant to deal with the individual problems around the home faced by people suffering from chronic pain. Because of the many causes and the unique problems it deals to sufferers it is impossible to develop a one size fits all solution. Because of this I am soliciting ideas and commentary from any and all who read this to pitch in with solutions and if you will the nature of the problem which inspired the solution. My first suggestion is an honest self assessment of your limitations and the direction of your travel through the world of pain. By this I mean are you stuck with a deteriorating condition that will worsen with time? Or do you see a sunnier horizon in the future? These are 2 of the biggest questions you have to ask yourself and you have to give yourself honest answers in order to plan for the future.
      I will begin with an easy one. Get rid of stuff you don't need. Common sense right? Wrong. We all have stuff and a lot of it we simply don't need. I would consider making a faux will. That's french for fake but I thought throwing it in there would add a continental flair. What I mean is if you own something and are holding on to it simply to pass on to someone else that you know would love to have it why not give it to them now? If it is something you treasure and gives you comfort or is useful by all means keep it. Simplification is what it's all about because complications add to your misery when you are miserable. Since I don't know who I am writing to or for I will move on to things I have actually done on request for clients who were impaired for whatever reason.
      There was a lady who had a stroke. She had lost partial function of one side but was still mobile. This pairs up well with many people with pain induced motor function. She had a railing going up one side of her stairs but as she favored one side she needed one on the other side as well and they both needed to be fully weight bearing. I also installed a weight bearing handrail down a long hallway and removed an old furnace that required a couple unnecessary turns traveling down the hallway. My obvious question was why don't you sell this house and move to an easier place to live? Her answer was the next time she moves it's going to be in the coroners wagon.
      Next up are handicap rails in the tub/shower. I am of the opinion that every home should have them and not just for people who need them. I bought a house that had been handicap equipped and I was using those bars long before I needed them. If you have balance problems from a medical condition or even from medication then they are invaluable since the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. I once broke 4 ribs falling in the tub and that was 20 years ago when I was healthy and strong as an ox. If I had a bar to grab that wouldn't have happened and if it happens now it might kill me. While we are in the bathroom make sure there is a non-slip surface everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Having the bottom of the tub nice and sticky doesn't help if the mat skids out from under you when you are stepping out.
       If you are stuck in a wheelchair the problems are obvious but the solutions often aren't. I'm pretty sure those upper cabinets in the kitchen are no good to you. The easy fix and one I used was to pick up a buffet style chest of drawers which offered dish/glass/utensil storage at chair level as well as a work surface at a friendlier height since kitchen counters are built for people standing. I have also lowered a kitchen sink. And back in the bathroom a pedestal style sink was installed to permit the chair to move all the way in as well as make more room for manuevering. If you are on your feet but back problems limit your mobility then you have the reverse problem and it's probably the lower cabinets that are no good for you. If this is the case then see if you can maximise the use of the uppers and even expand into adjoining spaces with more. Once again in the bath wall mounted storage if you have the space is great to move all that stuff you keep under the sink into.
        If your pain is shoulder oriented and range of motion is a problem for you then that is a tougher nut to crack. One individual had difficulty lifting their arms over their head so I lowered the upper cabinets right down to the countertop and took the doors off. This allowed use of the remainder of the countertop without having doors knock stuff off when opened and a portable butcher block island was brought in to compensate for lost workspace. Arthritis is a painful disfiguring condition and if it is in your hands then the easy stuff is hard and it hurts. I am writing this while in reach of the mug with the extra large handle so I can two hand it when I have to. Lever style doorknobs replacing standard ones work well for many. Replacing doorknobs entirely with dual swing hinges works better for many. You know at the restuarant when the waiter comes out of the kitchen with a loaded tray using no hands to operate the door? And then a busboy goes in the same door the other way with a loaded tub using no hands? That's what I am talking about
       Well I've gone on long enough. These are just a few basics but any tips you have would be great.