when i got back from the nursing home, all of the “stuff” that became part of my life was upsetting to me as a 36 year-old. i had a wheelchair, wheelchair seat pad, bars on the toilet, a shower bench and many other things. this as a woman who had traveled so light that i managed to avoid carrying a purse until i was about 30 – keys, cash, and my chapstick all fit in my pockets.

but then, like a good daughter of the 70s, i started to think like barbie. i realized that i was temporarily disabled barbie, and these were my accessories. once i started to think this way, i carried my accessories with pride, like barbie with a new handbag. my enormous and garish pill case made me smile, as i remembered having to learn how to swallow pills my last week in the hospital so that i could have the feeding tube removed. it was a symbol of progress.

we all got in the spirit – my mom and i found a cup-holder for my walker, and when i got up in the morning there was a beer in it. since at the time walking wasn’t my specialty, i usually used it to transport water or a coffee if i was out on the town.

my walker also has a cool saddle bag.

i realized that my accessories allowed me to have more independence. at the coffee shop, my hands were full with the walker, but i could finally bring my own drink to the table. my pill case allowed me to manage my meds myself, a step towards being able to live on my own again. and all of the bathroom accessories meant that eventually i could use the toilet and take a bath on my own, which certainly made me feel more like an adult.

the view from the tub at my folks' house


now my accessories are a little more stealth and easier to haul around. i bought myself some lovely yarn to crochet myself a scarf during my upcoming travels, and i found an “ergonomic” crochet hook – should make things a little easier (crocheting is good occupational therapy for my weak left hand).

speaking of my weak left hand, it has made keeping my nails short a real problem. my mom happened to buy a foam nail buffer, which is large enough that i can use it with my left hand. voila! nail problem solved, and i added a cool new accessory.

accessories are about accessibility. barbie knows what’s up.

temporarily disabled barbie out on the town. how many accessories can you spot?


14 responses to “accessories

  1. how the hell did “access” morph into “accessory”?

  2. Some of these accessories should come in more colors and patterns! I don’t think Barbie is big on utilitarian gray.

  3. The cup holder did come with a lovely purple water bottle. We had to pass on my favorite electric-blue wheelchair – it was an ultralite, an accessory that Kriste, thankfully, didn’t require. Barbie is such an inspiration for girls when they are growing up!

  4. btw – is that a superpole, magically superimposed on the sidewalk? A backpack is a covert accessory. Walker, cupholder, saddlebag. I say 5.

  5. Oh, wheelchairs DO come in neon colors and hot pink! Kid chairs and sport chairs have forever, and 6 yr olds are routinely allowed to choose their own color. I’m sorry you weren’t offered a choice; another Medicare failing. If you own your own travel chair now, it’s not too late: Know a good car paint shop? Let ’em give it a tape and a spray with their overflow from a car they’re doing, or with a color of your choosing. (Unscrew and remove the seat and back first, and the brakes if you can. Call if I can help.) Also, I have catalogues full of accessories if you need others. Want a colorful long-handed shoehorn? I have a spare.

    • thanks, pam – my time in a wheelchair was temporary, or else i absolutely would have pushed for a more exciting color.

      that’s a great idea about a car paint shop!

  6. Somehow that lovely purple water bottle stayed at my house. We were in such a rush to get a wheelchair when we got back to Corvallis – we just had the transport chair and you needed to be able to get yourself around. Samaritan Health really moved mountains to get a 16 inch chair for you in two days – one that would fit through our doorways. Having friends who are PTs and OTs is great!!!!

  7. And to add on to Pam’s comment: Medicare doesn’t kick in until the individual has been disabled for 2 1/2 years! Really – who needs medical coverage more than a person in the first couple of years after an injury or illness so disabling that they can’t work.

  8. I’m still waiting for my prize for identifying the number of accessories! I will accept a vanilla latte.

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