Tools

January 5, 2010

In the last couple of weeks I added a new tool to my handbag. Wasn’t planning on it but came across one of those GripIt tools that has about 5 parts to open various containers. I haven’t used it yet but I do feel a greater sense of independence knowing I have it. Which got me to thinking about the other tools I’ve gathered over the years.

One of the most common effects of my health condition are frequent coughing fits. Some times it happens when I’m talking, sometimes when I’m eating, and sometimes it seems like there’s no catalyst. I just cough and have difficulty catching my breath.

I found that sucking on a throat lozenge really helps. Often more soothing than drinking water because swallowing is involved with drinking and sucking is something I can more readily handle. So, I keep a ready supply of various types of hard candy/lozenges with me at all times. Even when I go for a casual walk outside my house I may carry nothing but my house key and my stash of suckers.

The muscles used for eating — chewing and swallowing — have weakened in the last year. Thankfully I’ve been a vegetarian for so many years that I don’t worry about chomping on a piece of steak but I really do need my vegetables cooked sufficiently. A tool to help me is a little knife I keep in my purse. Sort of a camping knife but not with all the other Swiss Army gadgets. I’ve actually not used it yet and tend to put the hard-to-chew food bits aside¬† in a napkin. The best tool is probably to remember to ask for well-cooked vegetables, but I forget.

The occupational therapist at the local MDA office has catalogs of all types of tools to assist people with their activities of daily living. She often comes to the support group meetings with lots of samples. Once we had a support group meeting devoted to tools that family and caregivers have helped craft to help their loved one with tasks such as putting on socks and reaching for items in overhead cabinets. It’s amazing what a little creativity can accomplish.

I’d love to hear from others about tools you’ve found useful.

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