Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A New Life of Solving Problems

Once I was moved from the Critical Care Unit to the Acute Rehab Unit, my new life of solving everyday problems began in earnest.
That first morning my occupational therapist, whose job it was to help me with activities of daily living (ADL), helped me transfer to a wheelchair,wheeled me to the sink so I could brush my teeth for the first time in a week! Simple ADL right?, Wrong! One must remember that the stroke rendered my left arm completely useless. My elbow is permanently positioned in a 90 degree angle and and my fingers are constantly clenched in a tight fist. So how does one unscrew the top off of a tube of toothpaste? How does one stabilize the tooth brush so the paste goes on the brush, not the counter? Argh!! So frustrating!!! Sometimes, depending on the task, I recruit my teeth to help out, but I have to take care not to abuse those! I certainly would miss those if I lost them. Life is full of innumerable, seemingly simple tasks such as this and a stroke survivor as to muster up an unfathomable amount of patience to successfully solve them without blowing a gasket. 

The most intensely aggravating of these ADL's is the bra!! Who invented these anyway? Gosh I yearn for those days before children and age made wearing a bra unnecessary! I know I am bordering on TMI. Oh well. Initially my solution was to hook the back closure of the bra together and pull it on over my head; not easy either but after many attempts of getting hopelessly tangle in it, I figured it out. The draw back to this technique is that it did not take long for the bra to get hopelessly stretched out as to render it ineffective. Why bother? My husband suggested that I try one with a front closure. Well those clasps require 2 hands and manual dexterity. With only one functional hand, that was out of the question. After several months I finally took my bra to to a tailor. I described to her that I wanted her to cut the bra between the 2 cups and sew in place two opposite strips of Velcro. It worked, problem solved! 

I have a dear friend who wanted to appreciate just how daunting ADL"s can be for a stroke survivor whose arm is paralyzed. So she restricted the movement of her arm for 24 hours. She kept a journal of her experience. She was struck by just how many ADL's there are that are incredibly difficult to do with only one hand. The task the presented her with the most challenge and frustration? Putting on a bra! I felt validated!

1 comment:

  1. Marian, I think of you (almost) every time I use two hands. I cannot imagine the battles you fight. It makes me ashamed that I am not doing more with my two useful hands. Blessings on you.