September 18, 2014

Living Independently

My journey to independence began at the age of eleven with the help of wonderful doctors and physical therapists at Shriners Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. I spent 2 weeks of my sixth grade year there learning how to transfer to and from the bed, toilet, and shower. Also during this time I learned how to fully dress myself. This made getting ready for school at 5 a.m. a whole lot easier for all involved. While I got dressed Mom or Dad could get breakfast ready which ensured plenty of time to eat before boarding the bus in the morning. At first, I had to have someone spot me during transfers to ensure that I did not fall. As time went on I was able to complete the transfers totally on my own.

A year after graduating from high school at age nineteen I made the decision to attend college 3 hours from home at MTSU in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. There was a lot of planning that was involved in making this decision a reality. I had to make sure that I would be staying in a dorm that was accessible and get help with transportation for errands I would need to run. Thankfully, the campus is relatively accessible to wheelchair users. My on campus apartment was a little on the small side, but I was able to manage and make everything work for my benefit. I had a caretaker come in twice a day. In the mornings they helped me get everything ready for the days classes and prepare breakfast, and in the evening they helped me prepare dinner and were there while I got settled in for the evening.

After living in Murfreesboro for nearly three years I moved back home. I stayed with family and a good friend for the first year after returning home and then in the summer of 2006 I moved into my own apartment. I still remember the excitement of being on my own and truly having my own place. It was a thrill! I lived in the apartment for three years before finally purchasing my first home in the summer of 2009.

I have lived in my home now for five years. It is a double-wide mobile home. I knew the moment I rolled into it I was going to buy it. Minimal modifications were needed to make it accessible, for that I am grateful!

Today, I want to share with you through brief descriptions; some of the equipment and appliances that have made living in my own home possible.

  • Front load washer/dryer: This is self-explanatory. Using a front load washer is idea for those who are wheelchair users because the washer/dryer is sitting at our level and we can just toss the clothes in with ease! Laundry quickly became one of my least favorite household chores but I am thankful I am able to do it.
  • Foreman Grill/Toaster Oven/Crock Pot: These three items made cooking meals possible for me. I am no longer just the queen of the microwave! I am now able to make items such as hamburgers, chicken, pizza, pintos..etc.
  • Electric Recliner: This is my spot in the livingroom. Ninety percent of the time this is where I can be found cuddled up in a blanket watching TV or gaming. These recliners are true blessing for those who are disabled or elderly. It allows us to be able to change our seating position and relax without the worry of being stuck because we cannot push the recliner back down or because we cannot hold the recliner back in the reclined position.
  • High-rise toilet/Hanging Shower Caddy: These two items have been a tremendous help in my independence as well as my shower seat. The high rise toilet seat makes transferring a whole lot easier because it is level with the height of my chair and also eliminates the need for seating over the toilet which allows more space. The shower caddy, well it is also self-explanatory. I have one on an extra shower rod inside my shower. This eliminates clutter on the edge of the bathtub and puts everything needed in reach!
I am very thankful to have been given the opportunity to learn how to live on my own and for the overwhelming support I have received and continue to receive. Living independently with Cerebral Palsy is one of my biggest accomplishments and having a positive go-getter attitude has helped me get where I am today. This journey is one that will continue for a lifetime. For I will always be learning to do new and different things!

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