When I saw an Occupational Therapist, (OT), a while ago, I took the opportunity to ask her if she knew of anything that might help me become a bit more independent in the kitchen. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, then you’ll know that cooking is something I’m keen to get better at. I’ve even made it one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014.
She said that the hospital could loan me some pieces of equipment that I could I try to see how they worked for me and figure out if they would be worth me buying. She loaned me a chopping board with spikes on a while ago, and said that she would try and get hold of something called a rocker knife so me to have a go with one of those too.
The one she loaned me is pictured above, and I suppose it is the kind that you would use to eat your dinner with on an evening and things like that, but she said that they come in other types as well, like bread knives, if I found them useful and wanted to buy some.
I’ve been looking forward to trying out the knife since she mentioned it, because cutting up food is something that I find quite hard at times. How hard depends on what food it is. Things like bananas don’t cause me too many problems, but things like certain types of meat, sandwiches with a few fillings in, and pizza do, to name but a few. I still struggle to use a piazza cutter.
Of course, the size of the plate makes a difference too because I find cutting things harder if they’re on a small one. I often say that people sitting close to me at the table may not want to sit too close in case they end up wearing my meal. How much I’m joking will depend on what the meal is.
I tried using this knife because the OT suggested that it might be easier for me. I’m not a professional so I can’t say if these would work, or be suitable for other people to use. I can only write this post as a reflection of how I felt using this kind of knife worked for me.
The rocker knife is curved so that you cut your food by moving it in rocking motion, rather than pushing and pulling your knife back and forth to cut food. For the purposes of this blog post I used it when I was eating a jacket potato because I was making the meal for myself and I find them really quick to make, and I only have to use the microwave to do it.
I know that jacket potatoes are usually quite soft on the inside. I sometimes have trouble cutting through the skin, especially if I’ve left it cooking for a bit too long. This happens more than I would care to admit.
At first, it was a little strange getting used to moving the cutlery a different way to what I am used to, but this passed pretty quickly. Although some of the skin still took a bit of getting through, I got the feeling it was probably easier than it would have been otherwise.
Because it is quite wide at the edge, I also found it helped when using the knife to push food onto my fork too, which I’d never really considered before I started using it.
I’ll also be experimenting with how easy I find it to use with other foods before I have to return it, although I don’t know what these will be yet. Then I’ll make a decision about if I want to buy one for myself or not.
My serial casting pots got taken off yesterday which I was very happy about, and my new day time splints (also called AFOs) have also arrived.
I had the pots taken off yesterday morning and then went straight round to the department that deals with the splints to get them fitted.
It looks like the serial casting has helped to make my ankles less tight, which is what we wanted. I’m not entirely sure how much difference it has made, but I have an appointment with the physio in a couple of weeks so she’ll be able to give me a better idea.
When I first came out of the casts my ankles ached for quite a while afterwards but my mum and I did a bit of stretching and that has passed now, which is really quite nice.
The thing that took me by surprise the most was how strange I found it when I first put my new splints on yesterday. I had them for most of my childhood but stopped wearing them about a year ago when it was decided that we would try to see how well callipers worked for me.
Although I’m sure they work well for a lot of people, this wasn’t the case for me because I had a lot of problems with blistering. This is why we made the choice to give splints another go after we had relieved some of the tightness in my ankles by doing the serial casting.
I kind of thought that because I’d worn splints for so long before that it wouldn’t really feel odd to me, but it did. Now I just have to go through the process of bedding them in slowly a couple of hours at time until I get used to it again, which could take a while.
As I’m only on day two of the process, I’ll update you all about it a bit later on when I’ve got a bit more to say about it.
They fit inside a pair shoes that you can buy in the shops too although I have to buy them a size bigger than I would normally take without them and make sure that I get a pair that is wide enough to accommodate them.
I guess it’s time that I dug out my old collection of over-the-knee socks that I used to wear with my old ones. I find that helps to make them more comfy because it stops them sticking to the back of my legs.
Believe it or not, I don’t actually remember being told I have Cerebral Palsy.
My parents were told when I was diagnosed at around the age of two, so I know that there was a time when they didn’t know that I had CP, but I don’t remember a time that I didn’t.
I’m sure there must have been an occasion when Mum and Dad sat me down and explained it all to me, but try as hard as I might, I can’t remember that conversation. Oddly enough, neither can they. It’s a strange feeling sometimes, knowing that you know something really important but not really understanding where that knowledge came from in the first place. I suppose it’s a bit like being aware that you know the answer to that crossword puzzle that you’ve been trying to do for days, but you just can’t bring the solution to the front of your mind so that you can fill in the little boxes.
The thing is, I never really remember feeling different either. At school, while all the other children sat on the carpet and story time, I was allowed to sit on a special chair, and for a long time at my primary school, I was the only person there with a walking frame. I knew that none of the other children needed these things, but I didn’t feel the odd one out at all. I needed them and everyone could see why so it didn’t matter. All these things felt normal to me in my head because I’d always used them, so when I sat in my wooden chair to listen to the teacher, it felt no different to me than sitting cross-legged on the floor did to anyone else. At home, I would run down the hill outside my house playing Tag with everyone else. If anyone never asked me what was wrong with my legs, the answer would just trip off my tongue the way that telling someone my name or age would.
Maybe that’s why none of my family remember having The Talk (The CP talk that is, not the other talk. I remember that one, believe me). Maybe we didn’t actually have one at all, maybe it was just talked about so naturally in our house that the information just sank in somewhere without me really having to be told. I don’t know if this is possible – I don’t understand psychology and the brain that way.
I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter how I bacame aware of my disability. In many ways, I personally think that I’m very lucky to have always known that I have Cerebral Palsy.
Before my blue Nimbo Frame Martha came into my life, there was Betsy. She was my silver Kaye Walker. I promised you all that I’d tell you all her story one day and now that day has finally arrived. If you’re a bit confused and want to find out why I choose to name my walking aids, you can check out this post here. If you want to just hear more about my old one Betsy then grab some snacks, pull up a chair and I’ll tell you.
As I’ve said before, she was given to me the day before Christmas Eve in 2011 and went into retirement last month. Usually these frames last longer than that but she was given to me second hand. I didn’t mind. I got a new frame when I needed it and that was all that mattered to me. I was in my final year at university by this point was making an effort to do as much walking as possible so I made sure we had some good times before we had to go our separate ways.
I like to think of Betsy as my frame of firsts. She came with me on lots of work experience placements, was there on the first day of work at my last job and came with me when I got the bus by myself for the first time. This last one didn’t go so well. It’s safe to say that catching the bus alone is not my strong point, but that’s a story for another time.
Oh, and she will always have a special place in my heart for being the frame that I used to get across the stage at my university graduation, which for me was the most symbolical moment of my life so far. It was the moment that me, my family and endless physios and doctors had been working towards all my life to date. People said I wouldn’t, people said I couldn’t and others thought I was just too lazy and would rely on my folks to do it all for me forever, so I upped-sticks, moved away and went on an adventure to prove them all wrong. In that moment, I knew I’d made it. We all made it, and Betsy was there every step (or should that be roll) of the way. For that, I will love her forever.
There are a few ways that the Kaye Walker differed from my new frame Martha, aside from the fact that she was silver and not blue. My Kaye Walker didn’t have a seat on the back. This meant that I couldn’t always sit down as much as I would have liked, but it also made the frame a lot lighter than my current one. It meant that my arms didn’t get as tired when I was using it (guess this means I should probably work out more, huh?) and that it was easier to lift it up and down kurbs, and for me to deal with every time I got the front wheel stuck in a pot hole (this happened more times that I would care to admit).
It also means that the frame is less compact and takes uo more room in the car but it was all still worth it in my eyes. Like I’ve said before I can now take rest breaks as and when I need them, sit down if I need to take notes when carrying out interview and I’m guaranteed to have somewhere to sit. To me it’s totally worth it even if it does mean I have to grow some muscle and buy less shopping on my trips out. In the end it’s probably better for my body and (my bank balance) anyway.
If there’s one activity that can almost be classed as physical exercise that I love it’s shopping, especially for clothes. I love wondering idly around the racks with Martha looking for the latest edition to my wardrobe, or at least I do most of the time…
Clothes shopping for me has its massive sets of ups and downs. In the ‘yay’ column I get new things that make me feel good about myself and know that I’m doing something that will help me keep fit (kind of). Then there is the ‘not-so-yay’ column which boasts a lot more elements: I have to spend money (boo), find something that fits, and battle with the changing rooms. Ugh.
For those of you who don’t know already, I’m really quite tiny. I’m 4ft 9” . This makes finding jeans that fit an absolute nightmare. If I want to buy any that fit me properly in the leg I usually have to ones for an age 11 child because even ones from the petite section are way too long. However, I am not an 11-year-old, I am a 22 year-old woman who just happens to have hips that this size of clothing doesn’t always cater for. Thankfully, I have quite a small body frame in general, so the ones for a 12 year-old will often fit around my waist, but then they have to be taken up and then I have to find some that don’t look miles too young for me. Do you see the problem?
Tops, t-shirts, skirts and dresses are simple enough because I can buy those in smaller adult sizes, but I’m lucky enough that I can still get these from the teenager section too if I want –yay for cheaper clothes!
Then, if all that wasn’t enough to take into consideration, I have to try and go to places where I can try the stuff on at home and return it if it doesn’t fit because most store changing rooms and I just don’t get on. I know that more and more places are getting disabled changing rooms installed, many of them don’t have the facilities that I personally need. Lots of the ones that I’ve been in (when I’ve had no other choice so I’ll admit I don’t use them very often) are wider to accommodate a wheelchair or walking aid and a lot of the have a seat (bonus), but the ones I have seen don’t always have handrails. Even though I am perfectly capable of dressing myself, if one doesn’t have a handrail I don’t feel safe enough to get changed by myself given how good I am at falling over. This means I have to take my mum in with me to hold me up. So by the time you have squashed, me, my walking frame, and my Mum into the cubicle there’s not very much move to move around, which when you have problems moving in the first place, isn’t a good thing.
So, now that I think about it, I really don’t know why I like shopping so much. Maybe I just like the challenge of finding something that fits? Hmmm…