Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fat wheeling

I came across this gem of a meme recently on a Facebook group for disabled folks and was instantly livid.  The image shows an elderly white gentleman with round spectacles perched on his nose, a black hat, grey scarf, black coat, and white dress shirt with white text that reads "Back in my day wheelchairs were for disabled people, not fat people."

My first reaction was "wait, WHAT?"  I was led to this spiraling stream of thoughts, from "some people are disabled then become fat" to "why does it matter as long as the person is doing what they can do to help themselves have a life worth living?" 

There are several things going on with this meme, and the first hits on some very real issues with the current "obesity epidemic" panic.  The thought that fatness causes disability, or that fatness is disabling.  They are two separate things.  Some fat people have mobility problems, but so do some tall people.  Some people with mobility impairments become fat for a number of reasons, but many mobility impaired people's weights don't change.  Correlation does not equal causation.

The second is what gets me as a kinesiologist.  If a wheelchair helps a person get through their activities of daily living and maybe even gives them a chance to find joyful (and, dare I say, pain-free or pain-reduced) movement, then USE THE CHAIR!  If a cane allows a person to walk for longer distance, then USE THE CANE!  If your built environment is inaccessible to you with a manual wheelchair, the USE THE SCOOTER (or power chair or whatever else).  Being able to be part of a community, to be as independent as possible, and to be happy are all components of being a healthy person

There are so many people in the disability community that are so caught up in the obesi-panic or are trying to make an artificial delineation between who counts as abled and who counts as disabled....this needs to stop.  Now.  There are so many people in the supposed scientific community that are spouting fat stigma messages that are just contributing to the mental unwellness of fat people (and honestly, creating a panic within disability communities to try to keep disabled kids from getting The Fat).

My walking stick from the ren faire
So, glam up your wheels, glitz up your cane, bedazzle your walker, grab your carved walking stick (mine is in the photo to the right that I purchased four years ago at the Carolina Renaissance's a medium brown wood with green leather wrapping, brass studs, and runes carved in it vertically with the runes for "strength," "balance," and "journey"...might not be in that exact order), and move your body as joyfully as possible.  If you don't believe me, see this post by Ragen of Dances With Fat about fat people in scooters.  Or her post entitled "Bad Fatties on Escalators--A Rant."

Stroll and roll happily :-)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Creative home modifications!

My most recent blog posts have been a bit sour (and there will be several upcoming ones that aren't particularly happy and uplifting), so here's a post that is more fun, more practical, and will show some creative ways that I've reworked my living space.

Author's pale leg with zebra satin sheets underneath, brown leopard print slipper, white leopard print bathrobe, white leopard print blanket, and green iPad case.
Zebra printed satin sheets, oh yeah!
I live in a duplex in a historic neighborhood, where my apartment is the upstairs unit.  There are some things that have just made life easier recovering from surgery (like the satin sheets post-surgery to make repositioning and getting in and out of bed smoother), but my house is not particularly accessible. Getting up and down my stairs is still a big hurdle for me (from a pain standpoint, as well as balance, numbness, proprioception standpoint).  Because of this, I've tried to make the inside of my home as accessible as possible.  Some of my modifications are things that are just nice when I have to spend so much of my time lying down (I'm still having issues sitting for lengths of time...working is one part ice pack, two parts pain medication, one part heating pad, one part moving around, and eight parts pure stubbornness).

So, for your viewing pleasure, I start you folks off with the first picture, which I posted in my two week post-surgery update.  Satin sheets to make moving easier (seriously, satin sheets made a huge difference in my post-surgical mobility), comfy fluffy bathrobe (because trying to dry oneself off without bending, lifting, or twisting is hard), fluffy blanket because grownups need snuggles too, and my iPad for games, email, internet, Netflix, and whatever else catches my attention.  For the record, yes, I like animal prints and I'm particularly drawn to leopard print!


My iPad suspended on the wall along with a pouch for my phone
Related to this is my bedroom wall setup.  I vehemently didn't want a TV or computer in the bedroom, but surgery recovery meant most of my time was spent in bed laying down.  I ended up buying an iPad cover on Groupon that was meant to rig an iPad to the back of a car seat so people (kids I'm assuming) can watch videos on car trips.  Well, this case plus a Command adhesive wall hook means instant TV/movie watching device (and audiobook listening apparatus).  I have two hooks on the wall for it, one for when I'm watching stuff with my partner, and the other when I want it closer or out of view (pain-related insomnia means that I sometimes turn it on in the middle of the night to get an audiobook rolling again or to put the white noise app back on). 

The other hook that is on the wall holds what is supposed to be a water bottle pouch that I earned volunteering at CONvergence, a sci-fi and fantasy convention in my home state of Minnesota.  I use it for an all-purpose thingie holder so I can keep my cell phone or other small items handy.  The strap usually hangs lower for general use, but I wanted to get a better photo so I hiked up the strap.

Seriously folks, I love these hooks...I use them for everything from a keyhook to jewelry holders to hanging the wall clock or lightweight picture frames.  I feel like a walking advertisement for them!


Photo shows well-lit bathroom with clawfoot tub, shower chair in the tub, sitting on a black aerobics step. Also visible is the rubber ducky shower curtain and an orange bathmat under the step
Shower chair on aerobics step
The next photo shows how I managed to get my shower chair to work with the lovely claw foot tub that's in my bathroom.  This was a piece of equipment I didn't think I would need until I came home from surgery and realized how much effort it would even take to ponder bathing.  There was no way I would be able to stand long enough to even get my body wet much less clean.  Well, my home has a clawfoot tub, which is not what the average shower chair manufacturer must have in mind when they design these buggers.  The tub is too tall, or the legs on the chair are too short.

Thankfully, my fitness nerdness came in handy.  I own an aerobic step, which allowed me to get the chair up high enough to fit properly in the tub, plus it allowed my short legs to safely get on the chair to scoot into the shower.  I still do use the shower chair for getting in and out of the tub as the nerve damage that makes me wobbly is probably permanent, so it's either use the chair or install a permanent grab bar in the tub area.


The rolling laptop desk (plus medical bills)
The last photo is something relatively recent.  I've realized that I'm having trouble doing any sort of work or computer-related leisure while sitting in any one position (or sometimes sitting at all), so I got a rolling laptop desk that will fit under a bed or a recliner.  Part of it tilts so I can use it while laying down, and the other part stays parallel to the floor to be able to place books, papers, or a cat (the cat isn't my choosing, and he's too heavy and wiggly to be on it, but he tries).  The height is adjustable as well, so I'm able to get it to the right height for most of my needs, and I think I could probably use it as a standing desk if I could stand long enough to use it like that.  This was one of my more expensive modifications, but part of that was because I already owned many of the items that I've jury-rigged for other purposes (or, like the shower chair, my insurance helped pay for).

The extra nice thing about this over something that sits on a surface (like this kind of tilting laptop tray that I found on Amazon) is that I still have a 5 pound lifting restriction.  My laptop is a little over five pounds, so I would have to expend more energy (more spoons) to get my work done.  The rolling desk allows me to push what I need to the room that I need it in, plus it keeps my lovely Bela cat from trying to trip me in the process (he's afraid of many things on wheels, including my walker and this desk).  My computer stays safe, my cat doesn't cause me to fall, plus I'm able to bring more stuff with me in less trips.  Muy bien!

That, my friends, wraps up a post that I've been pecking at for several weeks.  Next post will be some thoughts about "graduating" from physical therapy....