July 28, 2018

Back Pain + Stroke = Disaster

I herniated a disc in my back 20 years ago so I have been stretching my stiff back for years.  After my stroke I was worried my back pain would come back.  It did.  Walking and then freezing like a statue when a back spasm hits and walking slowly to sit down without dropping my cane is scary.  This experience showed me that stretching my back every morning is not enough.

In PT I learned I arch my back because abdominal muscles on my paralyzed side are weak.  When I  went home I discovered I arch my back when I reach down to get a pot from a bottom cabinet, to get milk from the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, and pick up something from the floor.  I arch my back when I wash a dish because I am leaning my stomach on the edge of the counter for support.

My PT taught me to strengthen my abdominals by doing leg lifts with bent knees.  I decided to intensify the workout.  I clasp my hands together and lift my head while twisting to the left until my right shoulder blade lifts off the bed.  Before I start doing a leg lift I press my low back against the mattress and take a deep breath.  I slowly let my breath out through pursed lips as my hands reach the position in the photo.  Holding my breath while straining can increase my blood pressure.

My NDT certification course did not teach me that raising an arm to use a hand requires strong abdominal muscles.  l did not realize how heavy an arm is until I had a stroke.  homeafterstroke.blogspot.com

July 8, 2018

Garbage Can Send You to a Nursing Home

I live alone so I cannot stay in my home if stinky garbage piles up on my patio.  People would call the health department.  After my stroke a neighbor took my garbage to the curb for a few months.  However, I do not want neighbors to think if they have volunteered for life.  Paying a nursing home $8,000 a month is a really expensive way to get rid of garbage (Genworth Survey of Long-Term Care).  Here are adaptive devices that make me independent.

Garbage. I use Hefty Ultimate garbage bags.  They have an elastic drawstring built into the top of the bag.  I place the full garbage bag on the seat of a kitchen chair so I do not have to lean down to tie a knot in the drawstring with my teeth and sound hand.  Once the bag is tightly sealed I drag it across the floor and kick it down my front steps.  I put the bag in a rolling garbage can to take the garbage to the curb.  I learned not to push the garbage can by tilting it backwards to roll it on the wheels.  The first time I did this I almost fell when the garbage can got away from me.  By putting the wheels in front (see arrow) I can push it like a rolling walker.  CAUTION: I used to drag a cane in my hemiplegic hand so I could walk back to the house.  Now my balance is good enough to walk back without a cane.

Recycling. My town recycles glass, metal, and plastic containers.  The short yellow container I was given is too heavy and awkward for me to carry to the curb.  The photo shows the Devault Plant Dolly.  Six casters under the dolly make it roll smoothly.  To pull the dolly back to the house, I threaded a long strap through the central hole that is designed to let plants drain.