When you live a pretty healthy life you don't realize that there are lots of tools out there to help you when you need it. It took me going through occupational therapy to learn that there is a whole world out there of products designed for almost anything you need to assist you when you start having difficulty. Something funny that I realized along the way, was that I was waiting for my doctors to tell me, "ok, now that you are having difficulty with this, you need to get one of these for yourself to help." Recently, I learned that's not how things work sometimes. In the process of therapy I realized that no one knows my capabilities better than me. I live my life every day, and I need to be able to use any tools necessary to help me, and doctors don't always know what you need when you need it.
The first tool I got for myself was a cane. I was living my life every day, having a difficult time walking because of the pain of arthritis in my hips, and when I was sitting and had to stand it was becoming very difficult. I kept waiting for someone to tell me, "ok, it's time for you to start using a cane." I waited and waited, suffered and suffered, until I realized that I have to make the decision for myself. It was a very difficult decision for me to have to make, because that meant that I had to come to the realization on my own that my health issues were severe and not getting better. I really struggled with it, but my family and friends were so supportive and basically said, "you do what you gotta do". So, one day when it had finally sunk in, I found a cane for myself, and when I started using it I almost instantly realized that I should have done it along time before I finally had. I was able to stop using it for a while after a month or so of acupuncture treatments, but am now using it again.
Since then, with my occupational therapists help, I've started using braces on my wrists and thumbs which help keep them from hurting when using them, Don and I have found some kitchen products that are extremely helpful to help me when cooking and baking, and I've gotten a wheelchair which helps Don and I be able to enjoy alot of the things we enjoy doing together, but had to stop. I use to look at all of these things as a weakness....not for others that needed or wanted to use them, but for me. My identity was wrapped up around being self sufficient and independent, and in my mind, these products were taking those things away from me.
One day fairly recently, I realized that using tools that are available to help me doesn't make me less self sufficient or less independent, they make me more so. They allow me the opportunity to enjoy time with my husband and kids where I wouldn't have been able to any more. They allow me to be able to cook for them and bake for them, which is one of the ways I show them how much I love them. When I need to go to the store to pick up some things, I'm able to go on my own and not have to wait for someone else to take me or pick up the things I need. These tools have given me part of my life back when it had disappeared.
It's never easy to admit that you're not the person you use to be, and that you're not capable of the same things any more, but looking on the bright side and seeing how much these tools will benefit your life makes all the difference in the world. Don't be afraid to try them. There are so many tools out there available to help with all kinds of things. I've even gotten to the point where I enjoy looking for tools that might help me in other parts of my life. I may not need them now, but down the road they could be helpful, and I don't want to slow down from enjoying the life I have been given. It may not be the life I was planning on, but I'm ok with that.
I would love to hear what tools you have used to assist you in different parts of your life?