Since I got married some 42 year’s ago, I have had only half a husband ! We moved over to SW Ireland and almost immediately he went to work on the rigs – a month on, a month off. In other words he was home roughly half of the year. Over the last 40 years he has worked his way up to be a Senior Drilling Superintendent, but the one setback with this is that he often has to live and work around the world. For example, he spent the last four years living in Tunisia and I went up and back to visit him whenever I could.
I was diagnosed with RA (finally!) around sixteen year’s ago, so I have had to learn to manage on my own for a great deal of the time. I have my oldest son living about 20 miles away with his family and they are quite marvellous at helping out, but over time I have acquired various ‘aids’ to assist me cope and today I thought I would pass on some ideas to you.
Every morning after breakfast I walk our two dogs. Sometimes with me on my Quingo and other times with me walking slowly on foot. I need to use trail walking flick-lock poles as the lanes are rather rural and wear my neoprene mittens to get a good grip. These have the added advantage of keeping your fingers and wrist nice and toasty too !
Back in the kitchen I have all the plug sockets up at waist height and, as I love cooking, I have a raised shower stool with handles to sit on by the kitchen counter ! In the dining room an old office chair on wheels means I can scud around without having to get up. The one step down from the kitchen to the dining room has a secure handle on the wall and there are more secure handles by the steps on the porch. These were put in by my son after I fell down the step in my walking boots and broke my right shoulder and left wrist, late in the evening and all on my own and I just couldn’t get up ! Luckily I always carry my mobile phone on me and rang erstwhile son to come and rescue me and meantime managed to push myself up against the wall and take off my walking boots. I thought that both my ankles were broken, but no – they were protected just fine by the boots. Anyway I learned my lesson to pay more attention to my feet the hard way, but it was also good to know that rescue was at hand should I need it.
Not being able to lift anything remotely heavy due to useless wrists, after visiting my daughter in Australia, I was introduced to an I-Robot, Roomba. This is a little robot vacuum cleaner that tells you what it is doing and scuttles around cleaning the floors all by itself and so I now have one of these as well ! You can program it to start at any time you like and so I thought I would get it to hoover before I got up in the morning and eat my breakfast with beautifully clean floors. This worked well until one day Cooper our labrador got an upset tummy and did a rather smelly pooh inside – all before I woke up. The Roomba was delighted – no longer just a few dog hairs to remove, but a big steaming pile of you-know-what and it set about spreading it all over the kitchen floor into even the furthest corners !! There was nothing for it. I just had to put on plastic gloves and take the robot to pieces and get out all the bits it had tried so valiantly to suck up! Plus practically hose down the floors, the chair legs and even up the walls. I got the poor I-Robot back together and it still works, though now it speaks to me in Italian for reasons best known to itself !!
Not being able to open a jar of any kind, I have a marvellous Culinare One Touch which is a battery driven thingie that you place on top of the can – press the button and it opens any size of jar. You don’t even have to hold it at all. I also have a large handled knife, fork, spoon and teaspoon. Like most aids for the disabled they were fearfully expensive, so I only have one of each. A steak knife with a wooden handle works well for most things and now I ask for one in a restaurant if the ones provided are those nice shiny metal knives that just rotate in my non-existent grip.
In my experience there are all kinds of aids for the kitchen, but you just need to see what it is that you really need – even if it’s just a seat and an old adjustable shower stool no longer needed works just as well as a posh new one!