August 25, 2015

Trapping Objects Stops Me from Growling at People

My frustration began in the hospital.  I did not ask an aide to hand me a wad of toilet paper because I did not want her there to watch me wipe myself.  Unfortunately, when my sound hand tore paper off the roll the paper kept unrolling.  If you have ever had a kitten or toddler who thinks it fun to unroll toilet paper until there is a pool of paper on the floor you know how aggravated I felt. My aggravation turned to RAGE when I saw piles of toilet paper on the floor several times a day for
3 months.  I was thrilled when my hemiplegic (paralyzed) arm got strong enough so my fist could press down on my thigh to trap a wad of toilet paper.  Finally, the roll stayed still as my sound hand tore the paper.

Trapping makes me independent in 21 ADLs. Here are three more problems I solve by leaning on my fisted hemiplegic hand.   1) My fisted hand holds my checkbook open while my sound hand writes.  2) Trapping keeps credit card receipts flat when they curl up while I am signing them.  3) I open mail by trapping envelopes while standing at the kitchen table.  At first the letter opener pulled the envelope out from under my hemiplegic hand so I folded the non-slip placemat over the envelope (photo). The muscle that keeps my elbow straight (triceps) is stronger now so putting envelopes on top of the placemat creates enough friction to help me resist the force created by the letter opener. 

Being frustrated 30 times a day is exhausting for everyone.  Who would you rather live with - someone who is repeatedly frustrated or someone who feels smug all day?   I would not want to live with me if I had been grinding my teeth since my stroke in 2004.  Frustration gets progressively worse when I know I will have to bear it every day.  I  use any strategy that improves my mood and saves energy by lowering my frustration level.  Grrrrrr!


  1. Ha! I hate it when the toilet paper roll keeps going and pools on the floor! I use the trapping method as well and am fortunate to have a mobile arm with the exception of my hand. The mail still frustrates me. I have seriously mangled some envelopes. And don't even get me started on packaging! But I admire your approach, Rebecca. You are all about solutions.

  2. I can't hold envelopes still while I'm sitting. I need to stand to lean with my whole body. Give a non-slip shelf liner sandwich a try. My post office was contaminated by anthrax powder after 9/11 so I had a real incentive to not stick envelopes in my mouth.