When it comes to doing laundry, I have to get a little bit creative. Before I moved away from home my parents had always helped with it so it was a shock to the system when I had to do it for myself and I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d cope with it.
While I was at university I had help from an outside supportive living agency who would also assist me with my laundry, cooking, cleaning and shopping whenever I needed it so I know that it’s not something I’d ever have to worry about too much if I ever did decide to live alone. Yet I hate to be defeated by anything (except my shoe laces – I gave up trying to tie those a long time ago) so I made the effort to find ways around washing my own clothes. I knew that I could always ask for help if it got too hard, but I wanted to be ready just in case there was ever a time I don’t have a choice, and so that I know I can do as much for myself as is physically possible.
Luckily I’d always managed to find somewhere to live where my bedroom had been on the ground floor so I didn’t have to fret about trying to get all my clothes downstairs to the washing machine because there was no way that I would have tried to carry the basket myself. Eventually I did manage to find a way around this problem though for if I ever want to give mum a hand at home where my bedroom is on the first floor and the washing machine isn’t. I have to get some plastic carrier bags (like the kind you get from the supermarket), fill them with whatever I’m planning on throwing in the washer, loop them around my wrist and go downstairs holding on to my handrails as normal. It usually takes three or four trips for me to gather a full load, but I get there in the end.
When my room was on the same floor as the kitchen at university I usually opted to do what I like to call the ‘crawl and push manoeuvre ‘ where I would get down on my knees on the floor and push whatever I had my clothes in along with me until I got them to where they needed to be. This took a while too but it was better than the alternative if I tried to carry it. When I would try to do this I would usually end up falling over (what a surprise) or I’d spill all my clothes all over the living room floor, neither of which are very good, especially not if the people you live with are around at the time and just so happen to see your unmentionables go flying across the room. My housemates were always really helpful and would help me if they were around though.
The difficulties don’t stop there. If for whatever reason I can’t use a dyer or my clothes need to be hung up on an airier before I can put them back in the wardrobe, that takes me a fair amount of time too. I have to hold on to the airier for support while I put things onto it, which means that things often fall off again as fast as I can hang them there, so it takes ages (and a lot of mumbling to myself most of the time) to get everything to stay in place. The constant bending down to pick things up makes me quite tired too so I have to take a lot rest breaks too.
I used to use Betsy for extra drying space too if I wasn’t planning on going out anywhere. I haven’t had to do this with Martha yet, but I’m sure her time will come.
When I woke up this morning I was a zombie, there really is no other way to describe it other than that. My legs and back had decided that last night they were going to Tag Team against me and ache so much that they would keep me awake most of the night. Next time they plan on doing this, I hope they tell me so I can have an afternoon nap first. Despite their best efforts I think I managed t catch somewhere between three to four hours of Zs which is not so great –especially when one of those blissful hours was between 7:30 and 8:30 this morning. I’d have loved at least another half an hour but I have lots to do today so I didn’t really have a choice but it suck it up and get on with it. All I can say is, thank goodness I have a walk-in shower.
For a long time, showering was something that my mum had to help me with because we didn’t get the wet-room installed until I was around 17 or 18. From the age of around 15 I had other things that would help me to get washed by myself including a swivel bather and a bath board, but before that mum had to lift me in and out of our bath shower, and stay there with me to make sure I did slip. This did happen a couple of times though, given that my balance is less than good, especially on a bad day, and it also meant that my daily wash was done whenever mum could fit it in around all the other household chores. Now I can do it whenever I like, which is something I will never take for granted. It takes some pressure off my mother too. I’m grateful that she used to help me all the time (she still does wih some things) but I’m sure this is one thing she’s quite happy about not having to do anymore.
Thanks to the wet room I can just stroll in (quite literally) whenever I like, plonk myself down on the seat and stay there until my aches and pains have gone away, or until I feel human enough to bother facing the day. It works too. My legs aren’t as bad as they were first thing today, I’m half-awake and I’m sitting here writing this post. Not bad, eh?
Like most things in life, getting the wet room installed was a trade off. It meant that we had to get our bath taken out which was really useful on the days that I was stiff and the shower doesn’t work quite so well for that, but at least I have my independence. There is the odd day that it decides to get blocked and flood, but the bathroom is designed to handle the water. It just means we have to do the mopping up afterwards.
Today I’m in a good mood. I’ve just found out I have a job interview next week, I got past the Candy Crush Saga level I was stuck on, I’m listening to You Me At Sixand I’ve just had tea. Yes, today is a day for appreciating the little things in life, so that is exactly what I’m going to do. Starting with the really simple mug that means I can carry drinks around the house by myself.
There’s no point in me even trying to deny it. Anyone who knows me will tell how much I love tea. My boyfriend often compares me to a character from the video game The Sims, except he says that instead of having ‘fun’ and ‘social’ moodlets I have one for tea and one for how much sunlight I get because I’m “solar power and tea fuelled”. His words, not mine.
For a long time, having a cuppa was a source of frustration for me as well as enjoyment, and of course hydration. I could make myself a drink (and anyone else who wanted one if I was feeling generous) as long as I didn’t fill the kettle up too much and make it too heavy in one go. But there was a catch: I had to stand in the kitchen to drink it. I couldn’t carry them anywhere because my CP means I have to have a walking aid or something to hold on to to help me keep my balance. This means I can’t carry any liquid in any sort of cup that doesn’t have a lid without bathing myself in it because I can’t concentrate on keeping me and the drink upright at the same time. Really not a good idea where boiling water is concerned. With anything cold I carry it in a bottle, but this doesn’t work with tea. I would go and sit down to wait for it to cool, go and take a few sips, go do something then come back and take a few more. This would be repeated until the mug was empty. Needless to say I ended up giving up on, or forgetting about more of them than I actually finished. This, to a self-confessed tea addict is a very bad thing.
Then, I finally discovered thermal cups, like the one I’ve included a photo of here. The lids mean I can usually take it from room to room without slopping it everywhere (just a waste of perfectly good tea, if you ask me) or scolding myself as long as I hold onto something for support with the other hand and go really slowly. I also have to make sure there are lots to places I can put it down on safely in case I feel like I’m going to take a tumble on the way to my seat. No brew is worth that. I even have more than one so I can be lazy when it comes to the washing up. (Not that I would ever do that, obviously). So I’m happy and my mum’s happy because she gets out of kettle duty every once in a while and doesn’t have to carry mine all over the house for me as often as she used to. I’ve gained so much extra independence all for the sake of a couple of pounds.
Obviously, these might not be something that everyone can use, and I know that what works for me might not work for everyone else. I’m not a medical professional so I can’t give advice on wheather this is something that would work for others or not, and I can only talk about my personal experience about how they work for me alone.
Do you remember how I said in my first post that some days were better than others and that I sometimes need to use a wheelchair? I think if I had left the house yesterday I would have taken that with me and given Martha a day off. I knew before I even got out of bed in the morning that it was going to be one of my more awkward days when the Cerebral Palsy likes to remind me that I’m not Super Woman, but still, it wasn’t the worst.
Getting up on a Monday is always tough for anyone, but the first thing I noticed yesterday when I made the leap of faith out from under the duvet other than my usual urge to answer a call of nature was the knot of pain behind my left knee. I could tell as soon as I started walking on it that this knot was settling itself in for day so I popped the heating on (I seize up when cold) and took myself back to bed (any old excuse will do). I hoped that warming myself back up would make it go away. I was wrong. My back then decided to join in with the protest and starting aching like it usually does when I spend too long lying down and demanded that I move around. My leg, and by this point, my hip objected to this greatly. In the end I decided to give up, get up and heat myself up and wheat bag while the lot of them battled it out to see which one of them could irritate me most. I’m still not sure who won.
Although I’ve had my walking frame for as long as I can remember, I didn’t get my first wheelchair until I was 11. I refused up until that point. I can remember being in nursery school and vowing that I would never let myself have one. I even used to try sneak out into the playground without my walking frame sometimes. I never managed it obviously but excitement I got from knowing that I could try and be outside without it made the thought of a telling off afterwards worthwhile. Yes, I am the first to admit I was a very mischievous little madam with no sense of danger back then. If I had managed it, in truth I would have probably burst into tears when the teacher and caught me, but I still like to think it would have been worth it. I used to get up to these kinds of antics at home too when I’d launch missions to get upstairs without anyone noticing. We didn’t have handrails then so I wasn’t allowed. I’d usually only make it halfway up before I got stopped but one time I made it all the way to the top and managed to get into my Mum and Dad’s room. I was delighted and started started to look for a place to hide and surprise them later, only to be scooped up and carried back to the living room by Mum much to my disappointment.
Despite all my protests I knew deep down that when I started high school it probably wouldn’t be acceptable to take my major buggy with me anymore.
I was surprised to find that I didn’t regret my choice as much as I thought I would at the time. The chair (otherwise known as Louise) and I have had some fun times too. I still get the giggles when I think about the time one of her wheels came off while my boyfriend was pushing me down a hill (It’s okay – I wasn’t hurt so you can laugh if you want) and I decorate her in tinsel at Christmas time. It took me a long time for me to realise that getting her wasn’t a sign of deterioration like I thought it was, but a practical decision and I am proud that I managed to stop being stubborn long enough to see that.