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 !On my morning walk in summer.JPG

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!


(I hope you all have noticed that I managed to sort out a text widget and a photo widget ! Took me all day, but I got there eventually !)

Now, when I had my first hip operation, I decided that I would need a wheelchair to get from a to b. So after having a minor fit at the price of the electric variety of wheelchairs, I went out and got an ordinary fold-up one. Reasonably comfortable, but as I soon discovered, I couldn’t move anywhere unless someone pushed me ! It was fine for moving me from the car to the house and vice-versa, but useless if I wanted to go to the loo and nobody was around ! Anyway, not so vital for the hip as walking is supposed to be good for you !
When I had my left foot done and couldn’t walk and my husband was away working in Tunisia, I had real problems. So next stop was a power chair. ( Dutiful son came over and built the ramps again !) A power chair is like an electric wheelchair on steroids !! I was very soon to discover that it’s seriously fast and responds to the slightest touch. My hands (full of arthritis) are not my most sensitive appendages and I did some very fast rotating on the spot and hurtled into a few walls before getting the hang of it. The speeds seemed to vary from stop to rocket launch mode, but at least I could get around inside the house. My recovery was slow due to my RA and I soon found myself looking out of the window wishing I could get outside. Once again my husband came to the rescue with a Quingo.



What’s a Quingo you may well ask ? Well its a five wheeled, battery driven, brilliantly stable mobility scooter which can easily cope with our tiny roads and the grass growing down the middle! It has all the bells and whistles needed to take it on any road around here and the fifth wheel in the middle comes into play if the others tip in any way at all. As its quite large and needed to be indoors when not in use, we had to plug it in down in Pat’s tool shed to keep it charged. This meant that my long suffering son had to come and put more ramps in to get me from inside to outside and then create a path down through the gravel on the driveway to the shed so that I could whizz down on my power chair and get alongside to get from chair to Quingo. Once there I was free as a bird with a range of 80kms before running out of battery and able to walk the dogs all by myself. They soon learned that on hearing a car coming, if they came and sat down beside me they got a treat !! All sorted and my son has now learned that when he takes up the ramps previously installed, he keeps them nice and safe and ready for the next time! Its over 18 months since my right foot was operated on and I’m back walking very slowly with sticks and the various wheelchairs are put away ready for the next time, which I hope will never come !