Not All Disabled Are Seniors! Advertisers WAKE UP!!

I just received a copy of the current Spin Life catalog in the mail.  And, ONCE AGAIN, all the pictures that feature a person using the product, shows an elderly, gray-haired senior smiling away!

SPIN LIFE CATALOG COVER

SPIN LIFE CATALOG COVER

The same goes for any of the catalogs I’ve ordered that have disability aids for around the house.  Every person shown is a senior!

When are advertising agencies gonna wake up and realize that NOT ALL DISABLED PEOPLE are seniors!!!

I am only 49.  I use a Walkaid, a cane, a walker from time to time, and a mobility scooter.  I am not old enough to have dentures,  collect Medicare, or sign up for AARP.  And yet, I do use mobility/disability products.

I will use walking canes as an example here.  Ever see an ad for one with someone under the age of 65?  Probably not!  What about a walker?  Again, I don’t think so! In fact, most young disabled people abhor the thought of having to use one because of the image always portrayed:  Hunched over senior walking slower than a snail in slippers, with the always expected tennis balls on the walker legs!

TYPICAL PORTRAYAL OF WALKER USER!

Wow, that’s a pretty picture for a young person who has just been told they need to use one!

We have many people in this country that are disabled under the age of 55.  If these companies want to sell more of their products, gain a larger audience, then they MUST start advertising using younger people.  Being disabled has its own stigma to deal with, especially when you are young.  It doesn’t help that almost ALL companies that sell disability aides advertise using seniors exclusively!

The next time you notice a product that you use being advertised with a senior, call the company, write the company.  Let them know that while you realize seniors do use these products, YOU ARE NOT A SENIOR and would appreciate ads that reflected your age group!

 

Do things Happen for A Reason?

dotsThey say that everything happens for a reason.  Whether you believe it’s God, luck, fate, or even stupidity, some things just seem to have a lesson at the end.

My stroke happened just over two years ago.  I now know that I will never be able to drive a car again without some type of hand controls.  The stroke left me with right drop-foot, which means I can’t lift my foot up, nor do I have the strength needed to maneuver a pedal.

I’ve spent the last year or so bemoaning my fate at not being able to drive.  Before my stroke, I went thru three years and three separate eye surgeries to help save my eyesight when my lenses spontaneously detached in each eye 1.5 years apart.  So for those three years, I couldn’t drive.

Then, finally I was able to drive again. After getting used to driving, I reentered the workforce about 8 months after my last eye surgery.

Three months into working, I had my stroke.  Soooo…….. once again, no more driving.  “Was someone trying to tell me something?”

After the eye surgeries, I had adopted the attitude, “It could have been worse.  And at least I am alive, can see, and I have my family!”  But after my stroke?  I was PISSED OFF!  What had I done wrong?  What was going on?  Was someone up there laughing at me?

Since my stroke, I spent time waiting for my foot/leg to get better so I could drive again.  I was getting frustrated because it wasn’t cooperating.  The thought of never driving again ticked me off.

And I was waiting for that “lesson”.  That “reason why everything happens” to become clear to me?  I knew about hand controls on cars,  but I had no idea, and neither did my husband, on how to go about getting/refitting a car with them.

Then a few months ago, my husband came home and told me that an employee in his company had a stroke.  He was not going to be able to do his job without being able to drive.  As a fleet manager for his company, part of my husband’s  job would be to try to get this person behind the wheel again.

To shorten the story:  My husband went thru the process of learning what needed to be done to get the vehicle changed over with hand controls.  What was needed to certify the vehicle, and get the employee trained and licensed, and ready to get out on the road again.

I now know I won’t be able to drive a car without hand controls.  But what amazes me is that thru this other person, my husband & I were being “taught” what needed to be done.  I was basically being told that “there is another way and it is attainable.  It just takes time!”

drivingsmiley

Spasticity: A Pain in the Ass & Everywhere Else!!

From the National Stroke Association:  Spasticity is a condition in which muscles become tight and stiff, which makes movement, especially of the arms or legs, difficult or uncontrollable. Approximately 40 percent of stroke survivors live with spasticity.

Symptoms

Spasticity can cause long periods of forceful contractions in major muscle groups, causing painful muscle spasms. The spasms produce a pain similar to athletic cramping.

Symptoms include:

  • A tight fist
  • Bent elbow
  • Arm pressed against the chest
  • Stiff knee
  • Pointed foot
  • Stiffness in the arms, fingers or legs
  • Painful muscle spasms
  • A series of involuntary rhythmic contractions and relaxations in a muscle or group of muscles that lead to uncontrollable movement or jerking, called clonus
  • Increased muscle “tone”
  • Abnormal posture
  • Hyperexcitable reflexes

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Since my stroke spasticity affects my right side daily.  I take Baclofen, but it doesn’t take away all the pain, stiffness or spasms.  Most nights, I  wake up a couple times.  But sometimes, (like last night), I will wake up four or five times with pain in my right leg & foot.  I will have on/off cramping in my foot & calf muscles, in addition to the ever-present foot spasm.

Some nights I will wake up, sit up, and grab my foot and use a t-shirt or towel to pull the toes up and toward me for 1-2 minutes.  It feels so good to have the foot in this position.

I’ve tried wearing my AFO to bed to keep it in this position, but it’s so uncomfortable.  I have seen a couple “night” type braces that supposedly keep the foot in this position, but I hate to spend money (insurance won’t cover it), order it, and then find out it’s a waste.

Anyone out there tried a night-time brace to help keep their foot in a flexed position with any success?  What have you done/tried for your night-time spasticity pain?

Asserting My Post-stroke rights (even when they don’t want me to)!

Tonight my husband and I had a very heated “discussion”.

“About what”, you are asking.   I’ll tell you.   It was about me asserting my independence from my stroke.

He was ready to go to bed and I wanted to go swimming.   So I will now break down the two opposing sides,  his and mine.

HIS: “You know that they say no one should go swimming alone.  Plus you’ve fallen outside after I’ve gone to bed,  and I can’t hear you calling me!  You need to come to bed when I do.   Don’t put yourself in a situation that could be dangerous!”

ME:  I have been swimming in the pool four days/wk with no one home. How do you think I’ve strengthened my right leg?  I understand you’re concerned,  but I have to do this.”

HIS:  “What if no one hears you? What if I’m not around? You are just being stupid. Do what you want!”

ME:  “I’ve been doing this for weeks,  alone.  Yes, it may be stupid, but I’ve decided that I will not stop doing things because I’m alone and afraid!  If something happens to you, I will be alone.   I will have to do the best I can.   But my best won’t be there if I’m afraid to try!”

HIM: “I understand.  I love you and just don’t want to see you get hurt!”

ME:  “I know. But I can’t live life scared!”

*Now I broke this down to the grass roots of the “discussion” for editings sake. But the basics of the conversation is here. The lesson for stroke survivors and their caregivers is this: Please allow stroke survivors to make that decision they are adamant about. If you feel you need to “keep watch”, fine. But know we will be pissed off. We will only progress if we are allowed to make mistakes!”

BEFORE you give a stroke survivor advice? THINK!

As a stroke survivor,  I have been assaulted with more “helpful suggestions” than I can count.  Most are given from people who truly want to help.  But the truth is,  unless you’ve had a stroke, you need to understand that most advice is forgotten within 10 minutes (if we’ve been able to ungarble what you’ve said in the first place).

I am now 29 mos post stroke, and I can tell you that I still, quite frequently “zone out” when someone is talking.  Hell, they don’t even need to be talking for me to zone out.

So, the worst advice I’ve gotten?  Easy!  “Write it down. Make a list and carry it with you.”  Folks,  after a stroke, your memory is shot. Even years later, that “stroke gremlin” will jump in and confuse the hell out of me!  If I’m having memory problems,  guess what I’m doing with “the list”?  LOOKING FOR IT!  confused

Also, the same goes for “keep your phone with you”.  Some of my clothes don’t have pockets.  Guess what I’m looking for now? Yep, my phone.  Because I needed one hand for my cane AND THE OTHER HAND to carry the cat food out to the patio to feed the cat the other night. Guess where I found my phone later? Right! On the patio table where I set it before getting the cat food!

Some organizational tools can help a stroke survivor.  But some just don’t work when the memory is in question.

So my advice to the one wanting to give advice?    Think it thru before you give it!

thinking

For the first time, I truly feel like a burden

Since my stroke, I’ve been very aware and appreciative of everything my family has sacrificed, put on hold,  and done for me. 
But tonight was the first time I felt like a real burden.  My husband Jeff has been burning the candle at both ends.  He’s tired and worn out. 
I haven’t fallen in a while.  So tonight of all nights,  my body decides to do its own thing.  I tripped over the threshold of the sliding glass door when I went to let Emma, one of our dogs, out one last time before bed.  I tripped over the threshold and fell.  Couldn’t get up.  Couldn’t yell loud enough to get anyone’s attention.  I finally realized I had my phone and started hitting buttons.  Got a hold of our son, who was upstairs in his room. Had him go get Jeff.  Nothing broken.  But will be sore tomorrow.

I now feel very afraid of being alone.