June 30, 2015

Handicapped Parking Lowers Your Taxes

Employers gave my family time off when I first had my stroke, but they did not do this indefinitely.  Yet daytime visits to the doctor, therapy, and dentist that require waiting never end.  There are trips that cannot be put off, like going to the bank, grocery store, and pharmacy. There are trips that take extra time like trying on new clothes.  Driving stroke survivors everywhere makes it difficult for family to help us stay in our homes.  Providing transportation is a source of stress that wears a family down.  This puts a disabled person one step closer to a long-term care facility.

Long-term care costs $70,000 to $100,000 a year* so families spend their savings quickly.  Guess what happens when I exhaust all my financial assets?  I qualify for Medicaid and your taxes pay for my long-term care.  If I were 90 I would not feel so guilty because how much longer could I live?  But I am 70 so taxpayers could pay for my long-term care for decades.  Being trained by an OT who is certified in handicapped driving, passing the on-the-road test, modifying my car, and driving safely for twelve years has helped me save thousands of dollars by staying in my home.

Handicapped parking is more than being close to the door.  A wider parking space is also important.  It is difficult to open a car door without hitting the car next to you in a regular parking space.  Able-bodied people solve this problem by leaving the cart at the back of their vehicle and walking the bags to the open car door.  This is a fall hazard for me because I have poor balance.  The wide space lets me pull the cart up to my open car door to unload my bags. 

A wide parking space is important for another reason.  If I open my car door only two feet when I get in and out of the car, it is hard to maneuver a heavy leg brace that will not let me point my toes.  A wide parking space is especially important for someone in a wheelchair.  They need the car door to open widely so they can get in and out of the wheelchair that is sitting next to the car.   A van with a side lift that lowers a wheelchair to the ground needs even more space.

Bottom Line: You want disabled people to drive and use handicapped parking because it helps us stay out of expensive long-term care facilities.  The next time you borrow granny's handicapped parking tag remember -- you are making your taxes go up. 

*To see what long-term care costs in your state click on this survey.  Notice the column that shows how much inflation increased costs in a five year period.  

June 29, 2015

More About Cheap Equipment

Having a stroke often means losing income.  In addition, there are expenses that are not covered by health insurance.  So this post is not about cutting up a banana.  It is about saving money.
The last place I look for equipment is medical catalogues where things are always expensive.
I begin by looking for helpful objects in my home and in local stores like Bed Bath and Beyond.
To see previous examples of truly cheap equipment click here and click here.  In this post I talk about two pieces of cheap equipment I use to slice bananas for my cereal. 

#1 is a one dollar non-slip placemat I found at my grocery store that keeps the plate still as I slice.  It is far cheaper than Dycem.
#2 is the cheapest, thinnest paper plate I could find.  Since bananas are curved, I turn the plate so my knife is always perpendicular to the section of the banana I am slicing.  Because slices of banana roll around I turn the plate so my knife is always perpendicular to each slice as I cut it in half.

The thin paper plate bends easily so I can pour the sliced banana into my bowl.

Do you have a cheap solution you would like to share?

June 16, 2015

A Stroke Turned Me into a Lizard

I used to be a warm-blooded mammal who could regulate her body temperature - sweating when hot and generating body heat when cold.  A stroke turned me into a cold-blooded lizard whose body temperature is controlled by my environment.  There are many centers that control body temperature so I will never know what is out of whack.

In late May and early June temperatures fluctuated between 40 degrees (F) at night to 80 degrees during the day.  This is not normal spring weather for New Jersey.  If I forgot to switch from air conditioning (AC) to heat at bed time I would wake up shivering.  I was covered by an extra blanket, but the cold air around my head was enough to lower my body temperature.  When I got up to turn on the heat, my house was 62 degrees.  My Scottish ancestors lived 700 miles from the Artic Circle so I used to have a body that was genetically engineered for cold weather.  When it got to 80 degrees my body overreacted.  Sweat started pouring from my temple on the hemiplegic (paralyzed) side of my face, but not on the sound side.  I wiped off the sweat repeatedly so people would not see sweat streaming down my face.  My hemiplegic foot became red and hot.
It is scary to know my body could not cope with these drastic 24 hour fluctuations.

Bottom Line: Poor temperature control is another invisible deficit I have to manage.

June 5, 2015

Cheap Equipment That Prevents Cooking Spills

Stroke survivors can prevent messes when they cook by using objects that are lying around the house instead of buying  "adaptive devices" from an expensive medical catalogue.  For example, my hemiplegic hand can't reach up and hold the handle to keep the pot still when I stir food or flip it with a spatula.  You can buy expensive devices that hold a pot still on the stove OR you can use friction.  I slide pots off the burner onto a heat-resistant fabric hot pad before I stir or flip food.  In seven years I've never had a pot move.

An even more delicious way to keep money in my pocket is to use the plastic lid from a peanut butter jar.  This lid catches spills I make when measuring spices or messy food like olive oil.  I don't have to stop cooking to clean up a mess I've just made on my counter top.  Using spices is a matter of life-and-death because I'm on a low salt diet to help control my high blood pressure.  Low salt food tastes awful without lots of spices.  I'm glad I found a cheap way to prevent another stroke.