How do YOU put your undies on? You may not even have to think about it. As long as they’re on before your trousers/pantyhose/shorts etc., life’s pretty good, isn’t it? For countless people including me this seemingly unconscious activity has become yet another daily and essential (depending on your hygiene priorities) task that must be adapted for. Over the last few years, as the Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy has progressed, my legs became weak enough that bending and squatting, and then walking, became nigh on impossible without falling. This muscle loss has been followed up with arm weakness in recent years. The ever-changing world of a progressive, weakening condition makes one quite reliant on alternative ways of performing activities previously taken for granted. Dropping something (lipstick, the phone, a tea towel etc.) while I was still in my awkward, semi-ambulant stage would prompt a pathetic long gaze at the liberated object as if willing it to rise into my hand, Uri Geller style. This was the catalyst for the introduction of the first of our new family members - The grabby stick!! What a saviour that stick is. What a symbol of micro freedom. It has become my rock… shaped into a stick. One cannot have just one grabby stick – it is imperative they must multiply. What else could pick up a fallen grabby stick? For smooth daily functioning you must have a grabby stick in every room in the house, so 1 quickly becomes…well, 6 and counting. Since then these sticks have assisted dressing; reaching far flung items such as a magazine at the back of a shelf; and retrieving dangerous pins and needles from the floor. Cleverly wrapped in paper towel they have also cleaned up unsavoury messes caused by a certain Labrador in an improvisation worthy of any great survivalist. From the rear wheelchair position in our modified Kia Carnival (more about that in upcoming blogs) the grabby stick has provided access to car vents and been a successful backseat driver prodder among many other tasks. The liberation that this wonderful accoutrement provides should not be the sole domain of the less mobile – I thoroughly recommend one for every household for those out of reach places. When shopping for your perfect grabby stick make sure the handle is ergonomically designed in the best way to suit your needs. An easy push activated handle might be best for arthritic or weaker strength such as with my super fabulous “etac Activ reacher”. Available in various sizes, I love my basic (no hooks or magnets-I’m quite the minimalist) 45cm length for dressing help and short reaching. I also love “The Easireacher Helping Hand” with a hook and magnet (I’m not always quite a minimalist). I have a couple of them in the 83cm length. A lesser known but very handy pick up tool for the quilter or sewer is the small and very portable telescopic magnetic wand. This lights up on extension and is a mandatory addition to every sewers basket. Check your local craft store for supplies in Australia. I found my little beauties at one of my favourite patchwork and sewing supply places Chandlers Cottage here in Melbourne.
My suppliers have been The Disability Shop and Daily Living, but there are many retailers, including eBay, so you can compare prices. There are countless brilliant devices that ensure our lives are made as accessible as ever but in my opinion, until I am actually magic (something that Uri Geller and I are both still working on), my ultimate praise goes to the mighty grabby stick!