Wednesday, August 5, 2015



I don't know about the rest of you, but I have residual effects and physical limitations from an auto accident I had six years ago.  I have a damaged left ankle, a damaged right knee, and damaged rotator cuffs in both shoulders, but the right is the worst. 

That makes it difficult for me to stand up from any furniture that doesn't have arms, especially low sofas and beds. 

But nearly impossible for me were standard toilets.  I don't know who invented them, but really, why do we insist on having toilets so low to the floor, not even standard chair height? 

My answer was to place a portable commode (a sturdy toilet seat stand that gave me arms to push up from) over the toilet and raise it up so that it was easy for me to sit on and stand back up.  And it worked.  At home. 

But public rest rooms, unless they were equipped with a handicapped height toilet and grab bars, were out.  (Most restaurants and small shops and places of business do not have such set-ups.) 
Consequently I never went anywhere for years.  If I did venture out, I simply did not eat or drink anything before I left, and abstained from food and drink for the duration of my outing. 

I would take my commode with me when visiting understanding family members, but, stout-hearted as I am about not letting things embarrass me, it's still awkward coming in someone's door with a freaking toilet chair.  Not to mention cumbersome, and space-taking in a car loaded with Christmas gifts or Thanksgiving Day goodies or birthday gifts on the way to a celebration. 

I recently was staring at my portable commode, and I realized that basically, it's a walker with a toilet seat.  And I got to thinking about that.  The only difference is that a walker's "arms" would be too tall for a standard toilet. 

But the idea intrigued me.  I scoured the internet for just the right walker: no wheels, and with support bars beneath the handles.  I found one, and it was inexpensive as disability equipment goes; $30.00 - $40.00 (Mine was $30, but I believe the price has risen, please use the links below to check current prices and order).  But it was perfect:  Beneath the top handles of the walker on each side were reinforcement bars the I could use to push up from when seated on a low standard toilet.  And when I talked to a friend of mine about it, he said that he could cut the walker's legs down if necessary.  (It turned out not to be, at least for me.)

I bought the walker online (see the links below) and gave it a shot. 

I adjusted the walker legs to their shortest setting, aimed the walker toward the toilet tank without it actually touching.  Then, back-facing the toilet as usual, while holding the hand-holds of the walker, (or the reinforcer bars beneath the hand-holds), I guided myself onto the toilet, and then back up.  It worked!  It wasn't quite as easy as using it with a handicapped-height toilet, but I could do it without aggravating my residual injuries! 

I started using the walker all the time and stored the commode.  I bought another walker to leave in the car.  It folds flat, and while the commode was embarrassing to haul into homes of friends and family or into restaurants, the walker is not.  It folds flat, fits under a restaurant table if needs be, and it can remain in the car until I need it

The walker freed me, body and soul from one of my most annoying limitations!  I hope you will be able to use this idea and step out on the town more yourself. 

Public Restroom Challenge met! 


Ez2care Walker

Medline Deluxe Two-Button Walker

Thursday, July 30, 2015



(Everyday items around the house help triumph over the disability obstacle course.

Since becoming disabled, I've discovered new uses for many items just lying around my house with nothing to do. 

Fabric grocery bags (especially for folded clean clothes).  They are easy to carry over the arm, or they fit perfectly on stairs so that you can transport things up and down leaving hands-free for railings and canes.

A Walker can be face toward the toilet tank in any bathroom and provide you with relatively steady arms to push up from the toilet.  This gave me all kinds of new-found freedom when I figured it out!!

Skinny garbage cans are perfect for those who require a hand on the railing and a hand on the cane to climb stairs.  The container can be moved up one riser at a time, while a conventional laundry basket or garbage bag would roll right down, plowing you along with it. 

Use a wheelchair transfer board as a sturdy over arm desk.  Voila!  The wheelchair is long gone, but the transfer board lives in a new capacity, keeping the weight of my laptop, books, tablets, and even craft projects and meals (with a little carefulness) off my legs.  (I don't recommend using it for hot beverages, unless in a spill-proof travel mug with a huge side of caution.) 

Place a nylon stocking (knee or ankle high) over the vacuum cleaner wand to pick up small items off the floor or that get trapped in sides of furniture without actually sucking them up into the vacuum.  This is useful when physical limitations prevent you from bending. 

A cleaning supply caddy sectioned with plastic cups can hold all your 'at hand' stuff, (glasses, pens, pencils, lotion, water bottle, makeup kit, cell phone, pill organizer, iPod, snack, Kindle or book, tubes, remote, cordless phone, etc.) handy without pawing through totes or backpacks.  Completely portable and most are top rack dishwasher safe too. 

Foldable stools can be opened right next to any chair and carried room to room or on the road to keep things within reach, and to make a seat in public if you tire easily.  I take mine to waiting rooms with me because I have great difficulty standing from seating that doesn't have arms.  They are inexpensive, so you can keep one on each level of your house to give you a place to sit cleaning paraphernalia or tools, or you if you need to take weight off your legs every so often without leaving the area you're working in.  If you have an office job, and must wait on copy machines, it gives you a temporary seat that can be easily stored in your cubicle. 

I'll more than likely get this article submitted and think of three or four more really good items to include on the list, so bear that in mind and keep a lookout for future articles. 









(It's never too early to start the SSD application process.)  

Start the application process for Social Security Disability yesterday.   Even nurses in the hospital/rehab center told me: Start the SSD application process immediately, even if you have a year's worth of private Long Term Disability insurance (LTD).   

My rule of thumb; time formula.  The rule of thumb for translating time estimates concerning government/judicial processes is: Months = years.  Weeks = months.  The estimate in the info pack with the SSD application estimates 90 days/3 months.  The process from applying to receiving my first payment was over three years.   At the conclusion of my hearing in mid-August the judge said I would have a decision within 5 weeks.  I received my first payment in mid-January, five months later.  Friends and relatives who went through this process agreed that my rule of thumb was accurate. 

Lawyers/advocates work on contingency; your win is their paycheck.  Get a lawyer/advocate immediately and begin the process.  Lawyers have access to medical records and know precisely what SSD needs to know.  I asked my LTD rep to recommend a reputable lawyer/advocate, and saved myself some time and confusion.   

Don't be shy! Keep a list of questions handy for when you're on the phone or emailing your lawyer or SSD.  Email and your lawyer's assistant will become your best friend during this time.  When you communicate by email your questions and the replies are documented/dated. 

Your application will be rejected at least once, probably twice. Prepare to get turned down at the application and reevaluation stage.  It's frustrating, though typical to have to repeat the process, including medical exam(s). 

Prepare for medical exams by SSD physicians.  SSD will require at least one exam by doctors of their choice. A typed list of my physical limitations (mine are extensive because of multiple injuries in an auto accident) saved time, and encompassed tiny details, including pre-existing conditions/problems that were aggravated by the current accident. For instance, my spondylolisthesis (vertebra deformation) was worsened by the trauma of my accident.    

Ask for travel money to SSD physician appointments.  You may qualify for travel allowance to offset that expense.  Again, let SSD know immediately upon receiving your exam appointment letter. 

Onset SSD payments.  Typically SSD payments pick up where LTD payments end.  They are automatically deposited into your bank account on the third Wednesday of each month. 

Medicare coverage.  Typically basic Medicare coverage commences six months after a person is declared disabled.  The premium is deducted from your SSD payment automatically before it's deposited to your account.  If you require ongoing treatments or medications, you might need additional coverage.  Check out your Medicare plan options. 

Hopefully the information here will make the SSD Disability Challenge a little less daunting and encourage you to tackle it right away; you'll be glad you did. 



SSD lawyers/advocates by state.