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.





(Recliner-Lift Chairs - the unconventional solution to comfortable sleep.

Sleeping sans cocoon. In a rehab hospital bed, plus a cocoon of rolled towels and intricately positioned pillows, pain from my accident-ravaged limbs subsided somewhat to allow sleep.  Coming home four months later to a regular flat bed, I spent the first night desperately trying to duplicate the hospital bed's positioning and still awoke shouting with lightning bolts of back pain so awful that I didn't notice my shoulder, knee, and ankle. 

Conventional bed out.  Now what?  To avoid that horrific pain I sat up in an office chair that tilted, put my legs up over a TV tray with a pillow on it, and slept 20 minutes at a time while I scoured the internet for a hospital bed to purchase.  I needed a permanent solution, not a temporary rental.  I had $1000 to spend--decent, motorized hospital beds were over my budget by several hundred dollars, not to mention shipping.  Besides, even cocooned in the rehab hospital bed and being administered narcotics, I hadn't been pain free.  And the meds were a thing of the past.

I reluctantly switched from searching hospital beds to far less than ideal Geri-chairs. I knew they weren't the answer: at standard chair height, I'd need help in and out of the thing, they're not comfortably cushioned, usually upholstered in vinyl, require manual repositioning, and almost the same price as a hospital bed. 

I nearly bruised my sleep-deprived brain trying to think of what would raise me up like the hospital bed did.  Then I smiled, knowing the solution was at hand, as I keyed in search words for the motorized chair my uncle had discovered when arthritis had ravaged his body. 

Lift recliner did the trick.  Boom! Up they came.  The most comfortable, fully motorized, smooth motion reclining, velour upholstered lift recliners.  And at that time, the top of the line model was just within my budget.  Sold!

My life-saving chair arrived six days later, free-delivery to my driveway.  (Fee for inside delivery.) My landlord unboxed it, brought it inside, plugged it in and skedaddled, so I could sleep.

Success!  Sleep I did.  It took 20 seconds for me to get the chair to recline from fully raised, and not many more seconds before I drifted to sleep for 28 blissful hours.  I rose as smoothly as I'd reclined, without pain.

The lift recliner was my best choice; I live in it. My reclining position is similar to that of the hospital bed, and the support of chair arms has virtually eliminated my shoulder pain. 

Will insurance/Medicare cover a lift recliner?  Possibly; only partial reimbursement after up-front payment, if the patient's circumstances meets certain criteria.  I paid for mine out of pocket, and consider it the best investment I've made since becoming disabled. 
I basically live in my recliner.  I bought a second for upstairs.  With ongoing physical limitations and discomfort, these chairs allow me to sleep without pain, rise without help, and relax in comfort and ease.