On Being Your Own Best Detective

by Fredson Bowers, GBPPA Member

Detectives investigate the past and anticipate the future in order to solve a mystery. Those of us with post-polio syndrome do much the same in order to discover and use those assistive aids and methods of accomplishing activities which will best serve our needs. This, of course, requires investigation and thought as well as some ingenuity.

I would like to mention a variety of coping strategies to illustrate my point. When driving a car, it is difficult to hold my right leg in an upright position. I solved this problem by wrapping an old belt around the steering column and then around my knee. An electric toothbrush conserves strength in my right arm, and does a better job as well. A portable telephone eliminates the necessity of jumping up (figuratively speaking) to answer a call. For reading, I use a lap desk and a reading stand.

I use a spring cushion for getting out of chairs without arms, and take it to restaurants without booths or armchairs. To conserve strength in my arms while typing, I recently purchased swiveling armrests which clamp to the typewriter table and provide excellent support and flexibility. Our driveway is quite steep and has become difficult to negotiate. The solution was to make the garage accessible from the house by putting a door through the foundation into the cellar and then installing a stairlift for the cellar stairs.

Recently, my back tires easily which causes difficulty walking. I discovered, however, that pushing a shopping cart through the supermarket provides enough support for my back that I can walk all over the store. Now I am investigating walkers for use in malls or other places where shopping carts are not available. What's in the future? Probably, within a couple of years, an electric easy chair which lifts one up onto one's feet.

It has been said many times that we know our bodies better than anyone else. However, we need to translate knowledge into action. We need to think carefully about our future requirements, use our ingenuity and perform our own detective work to determine how we can best conserve our energy and retain our independence.

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