Mobility issues in the micro-environment of the home can really push you to craft creative solutions. In my household, because of the effects of pain levels and exhaustion on my ability to get around safely, we tend to think of my mobility as an energy resource bar. The bar starts out mostly full in the morning, and decreases throughout the day depending on the duration and type of my activities. So we try to conserve energy as much as possible. If I want to be able to cook dinner in the kitchen at 5pm, I can't be spending the whole day sitting upright in the rocking chair or doing a lot of walking trips, because those tasks cause pain and muscle exertion that drain my energy bar faster. When the bar gets to zero, I have to take pain medicine and rest my legs and back by laying down.
To combat wasted energy trips retrieving items that I constantly or frequently need to have nearby, we've taken to accumulating a lot of my stuff on the chair I keep next to my bed. It started out as a balance guide because I couldn't stand up and finish dressing (pulling up pants, fastening them, etc) without grabbing onto something like the nice, tall back of a chair. It also provides a place for me to lean forward slightly and rest my head on my forearm when my vasovagal syncope threatens to endanger my toiletting routine. As I progressed with therapy, it became less and less necessary as a balance aid, but was a convenient place to fold a few clothing items so I could dress myself without asking anyone to bring me garments.
And so it has grown, over time, collecting this or that which I found I needed and didn't want to ask for help with or spend energy fetching. But a chair full of stuff is heavy and awkward to move, so whenever I needed to get past the chair to travel to the front door, I either had to carefully inch it away from my bed closer to the kitchen wall and squeeze by it, or walk all the way around through the living room, dining room, and kitchen to reach the front entry. This was not only difficult for me, but even difficult for able-bodied persons to work around.
This not-very-precisely scaled floor plan
shows the mobility challenges
of the first floor of our house.
Sometimes, you have to think outside the box to find the solution to your problems, and that means seeing ordinary things in extraordinary ways, in uses for which they were not originally designed. While shopping at our local Costco this weekend, something caught my husband's eye and he immediately saw it as the elegant solution to our problem, despite this having nothing to do with the item's advertised purpose. He spotted a portable kitchen island, and in under an hour after he opened the box, it had been assembled and stocked to become the perfect bedside resource cart.
You never want to be more than a couple steps away from your favorite tie-dye shirt.
It has shelves that hold my folded clothing and purses, a basket rack that keeps all my medications, contact lens supplies, medical testing kits, lotions, perfumes, deodorant, hair care, therapy weights and stretch bands, and is topped with a solid wood counter surface. The wheels move easily on the carpet, and the counter is still high enough for me to pull it close to my commode and gently lean on it if necessary. However, if I feel a full faint coming on, I will lean sideways onto the bed, so that I don't pass out on the island counter and potentially injure myself when the wheels allow it to roll away from me. For me, vasovagal syncope has very clear warning signs that should give me plenty of time to make that adjustment, as I've had the problem long enough to be very familiar with the signals.
Once again, creativity and repurposing solved a messy, irritating mobility problem in a neat, organized, and extremely satisfying way. If you find yourself not as able as you once were, looking around your houseful of challenges and feeling a little lost in them, remember to step back and re-imagine what you have to work with. When you view your surroundings in a new way, hopefully you, too, will find your own quirky solutions perfectly adapted to your needs.