Thursday November 1, 2012
From trauma to triumph
By ANTHONY THANASAYAN
It is not the end of the world should one end up with a disability. There is always help round the corner.
QUITE a few of us might have had fun spooking and entertaining our friends on Halloween last night. However, let’s take a more sober look at some of the real-life challenges that can often be quite scary if you happen to be a person with a disability.
The experience can be quite traumatic, especially for the newly disabled. But fret not, guys. Once the initial stage is over, great hope comes with the right kind of support in every situation.
Here are some personal tried and tested notes extracted from my own magic “Halloween Book of Facts” to help you along if you are caught in such a predicament:
Pressure sores: Considered the bane of the physically handicapped, pressure sores are caused by placing too much pressure on one area, especially the bony parts where there is no sensation.
When you get one, don’t blame yourself but take responsibility at once. Seek medical attention immediately. Try to get a doctor who does not nag but helps you focus on getting it cured. Follow his advice to the letter. Don’t delve on it afterwards.
Think positive thoughts always and adjust your lifestyle to accommodate the situation.
In other words, make your life as comfortable as possible. Be patient and carry on with your life.
As one specialist told me: “Get your wounds cured and then wait for the next one to pop up and work on that, too. Never get depressed.”
Wheelchair/bed/bathroom transfers: These are daily activities that demand one’s full attention to avoid injury through falls and slip-ups.
Never rush. Ensure that both your wheelchair brakes are engaged where necessary. Inflate tyres to keep brakes strong. Take your time to make transfers and find out which method works best for you.
Install foldable grab bars in your toilet to give you good grip and steady balance. Check for rough surfaces thoroughly to avoid sores in vulnerable parts. Consult other seasoned wheelchair users to learn how they manage.
Outside accessibility: Avoid steep ramps and rough surfaces at all costs. Stay away from escalators. Always ask – or wait patiently – for someone to help you whenever possible.
For white cane users
When you lose your sight: Never panic, even though losing one’s sight and having to live in a dark world is one of the scariest moments in life.
Noises can be exaggerated on one hand. It can also be very silent to the point where you can hear a pin drop. Always remember there is hope after blindness.
Find support groups in the community, on the Internet and in the hospital. Attend their activities regularly in order to find out more about blindness and how to cope with the condition.
Learn to use the white cane as it becomes a replacement for your sight.
Safety within the home: Furniture needs to be rearranged to prevent bumping into things and causing accidents in the home. Create a clear walkway to allow you access to the entire home. Small items like toys can cause a blind person to trip and fall, and injure themselves.
Discuss with sighted members of the family how they can best assist you. Pay special attention to doors. They have to be closed or wide open.
Partial openings can cause nasty injuries for the blind, especially if the door has sharp edges.
Markers in the form of rugs or mats need to be placed at the edge of staircases to indicate hazards to the blind.
Safety in the outside environment: Never leave your home without your white cane. They can be purchased from NGOs which work with the blind. These NGOs offer training on how to use the canes.
Use shoes for total protection instead of sandals which expose your feet to injury should you brush against anything sharp on the pavement.
Plan your route well before you travel by noting landmarks along the way.
Discuss with other blind persons the best ways to arrive at your destination. Do not hesitate to ask members of the public for help if you are lost or disorientated.
When you need to cross busy roads, always ask for help whenever you can. If there is no one around, wait for help to arrive. Better safe than sorry.