My Life on Wheels… 2/16/19

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How to Cope With Your Loss, and Move On Facing Disabilities

I got this article on the internet looking up disability and independence.
I’m sorry but I couldn’t find the name of the author.

A person can become disabled through an unexpected illness, deteriorating medical condition or in an accident. This sudden change will dramatically alter the life they once led. Everything will be different, even the sense of self. Losing control of bodily functions or dealing with limited mobility can cause depression and a severe feeling of grief. These are all normal emotions and they must be examined and dealt with in order to accept a new way of life.

The truth of the matter is that things will be different but different doesn’t have to mean bad. Accepting the loss and meeting the challenges head on can ensure a positive and healthy outlook. A strong support network and organizations are there to help individuals adjust to their circumstances.

Scooterjon says – After my MS diagnosis in July of 1991 I didn’t feel any different. Everything seemed normal so I continued working like nothing had happened or was wrong. I remember going to a group counseling for MS beginners. I didn’t look or feel sick in any way. I learned some things though about MS I didn’t know so that was good. I also had my eyes wide open for future problems.

In late September of ’91 I had my first exacerbation. My left hand and arm were completely numb. I’ll never forget this because I still only have half the feeling in my left hand. I didn’t have a neurologist at that time but I knew the exacerbation would eventually end.

During that relapse I was more tired and one of my eyes was blurry. The exacerbation did end but it took three months to do so. I continued on with my life just like normal but with a lame left arm! I found out later that IV steroids would have ended the exacerbation in three days!
Dealing with Grief and Loss

Losing a part of yourself is a frightening and overwhelming experience. It is perfectly natural to feel a great deal of grief and anger in your experience. You are mourning the life you once had and you are forced to deal with new changes which can make you angry.

These feelings will be intense and strong, allow yourself to feel them. These sorts of changes force people to change their self-image which isn’t easy. A support system is vital to healing, seek the help of a licensed counselor, doctor or friends and family.

Every situation is different. But disability can bring on a variety of concerns for the future. Financial questions must be addressed: Will you receive disability? Can you continue working? Do you have medical care? Medical expenses? It is important that you discuss these important questions with your support system. There are organizations that will help you and your family make decisions about the future.

As you look forward it is important that you set realistic goals for yourself. Focus on the things you can do and begin adjusting to your new life tools (walkers, wheelchairs, conversion vans, ramps). Understand your new limitations and work on ways to manage daily activities. An occupational therapist can help you adapt to your new situation which can provide you with a sense of independence and freedom.

Scooterjon says – No one told me that I would suffer grief and loss with each body part that your MS takes. I went from ’91 to 2000 with only losing that partial feeling in my left hand. I still had relapses where my eyes would get blurry and my fatigue seemed worse but nothing was taken. The first major thing I lost was my bladder working properly in 2000.

After each of my body parts stopped working properly I would suffer from some sadness and depression. I thought I was a big wimp because I had accepted my MS years before. However, I now know this is natural and normal for people to have grief after a body part stops working properly. I was single and had no one to talk over my problems.
Changes to Expect –

Disabilities and handicaps require home and lifestyle accommodations. It is imperative that the home be safe and accessible. There are a few important home factors to consider when preparing for a newly disabled or handicap person.

A wheelchair does not fit through a standard door size. Standard doors are usually 28 to 32 inches wide. A wheelchair and some walkers usually need at least 36 inches of space. Switching out door hinges for hinges designed for wheelchairs can give you an extra few inches. If you need more space talk to a licensed contractor.

You can also switch out any standard door knobs for levers which will be easier for someone with limited hand mobility. Examine the home, if there are any steps or stairs it is crucial that you install ramps. Examine the flooring of your home. Thick carpet can be difficult for wheelchairs, consider changing out carpets for wood, laminate, or tile flooring.

Disabled or handicap individuals will have an easier time showering if a walk-in shower is installed. If this is not financially possible, install a shower chair. It is also helpful if you replace all standard toilets with handicap toilets.

Depending upon the disability, the use of a mobility aid might be necessary. Walkers, canes, or wheelchairs will all help to improve mobility and function. Discuss with your doctor which aid is better for your particular situation.

Being disabled doesn’t mean you are confined to your home. You can still have the added freedom of driving. There are plenty of handicap accessible vans, all with equipment designed for you to drive. There are a plethora of options depending on your particular disability.

Scooterjon says –I’ve always been a proponent for handicap aides to make my life easier. I got my first scooter in 1996. For walking I’ve used canes, walkers and finally in 2011 using my scooter full-time. In my bathroom I have always had handicap bars in my shower and out.

The bathtub/shower areas can be very hazardous. I started with what I call stickums. They stick to the bathtub/shower floor and give people something sturdy to stand on while their toweling off. From there I went to a shower stool but as my balance worsened I decided to change to bench style shower stool.

For my van I’ve used a rope scooter lift for loading my scooters. Then I got a Pride Backpacker for loading and unloading and finally I have a ramp inside my van so I just drive right in.
Moving Forward

Being disabled or handicapped is a difficult challenge for anyone. Talk to others, there are occupational therapists, counselors, doctors, friends, and family who will all help you to rediscover your life and happiness. Do not isolate yourself. Focus on adapting to new tools whether it be mobility aids, a conversion van or handicap bars.

All of these accommodations will make your life easier. Make sure to take time to care for yourself emotionally. Focus on your spiritual, mental and physical health. Express your emotions to your support system and seek out the help of different organizations.

Scooterjon says – I’ve had asthma since the age of ten. I think that has helped me to accept all the trials and challenges of Multiple Sclerosis. My parents also raised three children to be independent and positive thinkers. To some extent I think that has helped me accept and live with my MS.