I have always thought of myself as an independent woman. I sometimes have gone out of my way to prove to others that I am independent. This has been a common theme even as a youngster. So when you are put in a situation where you lose your independence you are at a disadvantage. How do you go about doing daily activities that were so easy and carefree to asking for help. For me, pride got in the way at almost every turn. Everyday tasks that I would never think twice about before, I would have to ask for help. Some things I would just shake my head at, shying away at the thought of having to go through with them. Anger and frustration consumed me. How was it that last week, this was a simple task that I didn’t even have to think twice about, and now, I have to have at times, two people assisting me.
I was on the Rehab floor of the hospital. We were being taught or given things to work around things that had become difficult in life but it was as if at every step they were proving a point to the person in there that they needed to ask for help or figure out an alternative way to accomplish a task.
Take for instance any meal time. For a floor that assisted patients with strokes, car accidents, etc, they provided juice containers that you had to have two hands to open. For the majority of people on the floor that couldn’t use both arms or hands this was a bit of an inconvenience. Salad dressing containers were also concealed in air-tight packs. How can someone try and drink or do anything themselves if they are not even given the chance? They have to constantly ask for help. The mental aspect of being there was one of the most challenging. Squeezable salad dressings. You become innovative rather quickly. Juice came with an aluminium top so after I few days of experimenting I learned to be able to drink it I all that I had to do was pound a straw through pretty easily. It was only twice that I showered myself with grape juice. I learned quickly that you always eat breakfast before showering just in case you spill on yourself because showering was a feat in itself. Try if by all means to do it once because you need to save your energy for walking and therapy.
Another thing was attempting to do anything grooming wise. Shaving my armpits. It was like an amazon forest. I couldn’t move my entire arm. I could only rest my arm on something (like my head) and shave one. But that would be just plain silly, having one armpit shaved and the other au naturel. I was convinced at the end that I could braid them. It was becoming a trend to sport the ‘au natural’ look which helped, but I was ever so thankful when my Mom shaved them for me. I took for granted what you needed both hands for. Washing my hair and face was also something was of great difficulty. I would have to have a shower seat for safety precautions. In the shower, it would take me three times longer to bath than normal. It also took me a while to figure out how to get the liquid from the bottle to my head. The process of opening the lid and then making sure I didn’t use the whole bottle was overwhelming. Everything would also fall over in the shower and roll away me too. Thank god for my nurse Shayna, she flipped my garbage can over. I was able to squeeze the right amount on my leg and scoop it to put in on my head. I did this with my face wash as well.
Each day when my left hand becomes weak I always remind myself how bad it was and how it this little blip on the map is nothing to worry about. A little weakness is nothing to compared to what could be and was I have been through.