Saturday, 14 April 2007

Accessories for the aesthete

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or
believe to be beautiful.

William Morris

It's becoming increasingly and rapidly apparent that if I am to succeed at this single parenting lark there are certain things I really really need, like yesterday, not next week.
Hmmm, should have thought all this through a little better, but then your body will notify you of problems as they arise and not necessarily in advance.

I am lucky enough to already have in my possession an NHS perching stool. Oh it is so very, very ugly and being something of an aesthete I hate the way it clutters up the kitchen with its shiny, clinical blandness. So today I festooned it with ribbons, for the entertainment of one bored cat. It is being used so much more than it was, as in addition to providing a diversion for Ralph I am using it to wash up, sometimes twice a day. Quelle horreur! This is such a pointless waste of limited energy resources. Which is why a countertop dishwasher (hurrah, no bending, plus bargain off ebay) is soon to be plumbed in. But then, I always did hate washing up. And I never got the ironing thing either. As soon as I moved, the board went under the stairs, and there it will stay.

But all of a sudden a grabby stick seems to be my number one object of desire. I positively yearn for one, as do all my muscles. I have physio on Wednesday first to see what the bloody hell is going on with my back, but I can't see them disagreeing that I need something to stop me bending and reaching for things.
So, a grabby stick, a perching stool, everything at counter level if possible (I have ditched the oven since discovering my bargain microwave is also a convection oven AND a grill - oh happy, happy day). Home support twice a week for an hour, and a cleaner every fortnight. And, lest I forget, friends being marvellous.
Then there's the mobility scooter. It's been on the cards for a while and I'm currently battling with the local wheelchair service to get a voucher, providing some money towards it if I'm lucky. The scooter question in general is proving to be something more of a psychological barrier, so the delay is almost welcomed. But is there really any point in gritting one's teeth all the way to the shops or school when one could sail down the road waving at everyone instead?
The house will need a ramp, and it's rented so that will need careful negotiation (as will the ramp. How do you open your front door whilst seated on a scooter halfway up a ramp? If you get off to open the door does it roll back down, or do you turn the thing off and hope? There is no handbrake). And if it is to be parked round the back, the gravel will have to go from the patio as I don't think scooters like gravel. I may be wrong.
David and Andrea got me thinking on accessorising accessories. That is, beautifying the ugliness that pervades disability aids. An interesting observation was made that whilst bluetooth headsets are cool, hearing aids are not. And yet they are both worn on the ear to assist hearing. It's just that one is worn ostentatiously, the other often tucked behind the ear, its fleshy, beige tones designed to make it supposedly invisible. If you happen to be white, or a beige tone. It is interesting to note here how disability, or more precisely a perceived deviation from the norm, is viewed by society. Society being the 'in' crowd, the ipod sporting, headset wearing, mobile brandishing mainstream.
Yes, I know crips use all these things too. I think the point was that whilst bluetooth headsets are a cool accessory, a beige hearing aid is not.
I haven't felt very mainstream since becoming ill, as my condition makes ipods, bluetooth headsets and mobiles (or any phones, TVs, stereos, traffic...anything that makes a noise or is bright) painful and nerve-jangling.
My aids are primarily mobility aids, and at times of distressing sensory overload, sense buffers such as noise reducing headphones (can't recommend enough), earplugs and shades.

I had some utterly fabulous shades, very Audrey Hepburn, which were both cool and cunningly disguised as a disability aid for my light sensitive eyes. Get it? Shades...cunningly disguised. Never mind. Anyway, they are lost. So I need some more, and quick, given all the lovely weather we've been having.

The shades are the only item that for my disability needs are instantly 'cool'.
But should this matter? Should we accessorise our aids? Should they be cunningly disguised, whether it be sticking stickers on a hearing aid or festooning a perching stool with ribbons. Oh, go on then, here he is again...

Personally, I see it as ownership. A customised aid becomes your own aid, in your own style. I will see what suggests itself when my grabby stick arrives. The one I'm considering has not only jaws, but also a nifty suction cup. The possibilities are endless. A dinosaur head or shark head, or maybe some weird alien being with jaws and a sucky thing.
Of course, such customising may make the grabby stick utterly useless so it will be very much a case of trying out different ideas. Or maybe I'll like my grabby stick just as it is. Can't quite imagine I will though somehow. When did you last see a grabby stick designed with the words of William Morris in mind?

Just not sure I'll be sticking 'Go Faster' stripes on my mobility scooter, as a friend suggested. Was this to make the whole thing more bearable for me, my son or for the friend? There's customisation, then there's attempts at humour that don't quite seem, well, funny really. Well, not to me anyway, at this moment in time.
Plus my son is fine with it. Better in fact, than I am. He said a while back, "Mum if you need something to save energy and get around quicker, just get one."


fluttertongue said...

Mobility scooters - it's a difficult divide to cross. I've been umming and ahhing about getting me some wheels (but cheaply so it'll just be your basic chair) because it would mean I could venture out of the house with other people without them having to adapt to my snail's pace or spend a small fortune on bus fares. However, being on a different level to other people is a big deal. And the difficulty comes when they see you can actually walk fine unaided and you have to explain that it's not a miraculous recovery. When a mobility scooter was suggested to me my friend said I could personalise it with pink sequins and ribbons but I'm not quite ready to embrace the crazy lazy woman label quite yet.

Anonymous said...

I remember a friend giving me "school colors" crepe on my crutches just prior to graduation...

I have a profoundly ugly wheelchair.

I'm waiting for a new one.

Lady Bracknell said...

Don't forget that one of the often unsung benefits of a grabby stick is its ability to grab the leg of a large spider firmly, prior to said spider being flung unceremoniously out of the nearest door/window.

(Always assuming Ralph is not around at the time to dispatch said spider after his own inimitable fashion.)

Plus, grabby sticks are not just for low places. They can be utilised to snag tins or jars from high shelves, thus obviating the need for excessive stretching or risky standing on tip toes.

David said...

Like that perching stool! Nice post.

seahorse said...

Thanks fluttertongue, yes the snail's pace thing does become a bit of a bind. It's mainly to do with how much energy is used, or pain experienced by doing a journey on foot, rather than in a scooter, and whether that would lead to an overall improvement in energy levels.

Imfunnytoo, I've yet to see a not ugly one, apart from those cool sports chairs with slanty wheels.

Lady B :-) and yes, high places cause stretching too which I need not to do.

David, thanks, you kind of started me thinking whilst I was pondering what aids I need. V timely.

Maggie said...

Found you via Diary of a Goldfish.

Just the other week got a wheelchair on eBay which has bright green metal bits instead of grey. :-) Not managed to test it out yet, as it seems to have mostly rained at the weekends since then.

Only down side is the wheels don't come off easily like the old one. Which may make it less easy to stow in the car boot when my lovely Grand Scenic goes back to Motability in about a year. Ah well, will worry about it when the time comes! At least it folds.

Best wishes from rather damp Liverpool

seahorse said...

Bright green! Fantastic. Purple is my favourite colour, and I am rather hoping I may get one, or accessorise it, in purple tones.
I wish you many happy outings, and thanks for popping by.