Yet another dreich day, overcast, mizzling (misty-drizzling), clammy and hovering around the freezing mark. I’ve managed to wrench my ankle a bit, and am long-last holed up in bed with my warm rice-sock wrapped around it, a and have a bowl of oatmeal and a mug of rum-tea for comfort.
In a salute to all things cozy (because dammit, it’s January and there’s still February to slog through), I thought I’d share some of the things that make my life more comfortable.
Let’s start in the kitchen, because everybody eats. I’ve always hated can openers, probably due to my left-handed tendencies makes hooking the mechanism onto the can seem absurdly awkward. (Then again, my lefty can opener is also annoying.) Cheap can openers — the sort most of us have purchased at the grocery — have lousy handles that cut into the hands, and they eventually get rusty, dull, and gross as well. Even the KitchenAid opener with fatter handles is cumbersome, especially for my daughter who has small hands. But last year I found a wonderful tool, not just the OXO brand, but their locking Good Grips version. The locking part means that once you’ve clinched the opener onto your can, it hangs onto it, like a Scottish Terrier with a tug-toy. When the can’s open, push down on the little button and it releases the can. It’s easy for arthritic grandma (me) to use, it’s easy for my son with the giant hands to use, and it’s easy for my daughter with the small hands to use. Hooray!
I like my futon bed because it provides excellently firm support, but on the other hand, a futon is so firm that I felt like an even more arthritic “bag o’ bones” trying to sleep on it; no position was comfortable, and sleeping on my side was worst of all, as my shoulder and hip bones pressed against the mattress. So I finally got a memory foam mattress topper. After unwrapping and unrolling, it took a couple of days to off-gas and expand all the wrinkles out before I dragged it atop my bed and popped on the mattress cover that came with it before remaking my bed. But the foam “breathes” well so you don’t get sweaty, and has such small pores that it doesn’t feel like lying on a sponge. And heavens, it’s amazing how much more restful my bed is now!
Once I finally ooze out of bed between the cats, it’s time to get dressed. Half the year I start with a base layer of thin silk long underwear. Silk is amazing stuff; it helps you stay warm yet doesn’t get too warm. Plus, the material is so thin and slick that my outer clothes are neither tight nor bunch up.
Often I’ll also end up wearing my gloves. Our classroom has always been the coldest, but even at the grocery my hands will be cold. After examining a number of styles, I finally settled on some Thermoskin arthritis gloves.
The neoprene-like material helps trap body heat, which keeps my hands warmer despite the Raynaud’s, and that plus the compression reduces the arthritis pain. The gloves are also covered with grippy-nubbins, so it’s easier to hold onto things. Most arthritis gloves are that ugly medical-beige color, but I think this black color is a bit more stylish; one of my students said they look like “Spiderman gloves” which is probably as much of a compliment as one is going to get on a medical aid.
Now there’s a gripe – why IS it that anything in the “medical aid” category is nearly always ugly and over-priced?
After a couple of months of coping with the sudden attacks of vertigo, I finally realized that I wasn’t getting to work quite as well-groomed as I used to. I wasn’t gross, just not getting my hair washed daily. Eventually I figured out that when I don’t have time for a bath in the morning, I was skipping a quick shower because I don’t have good balance when my eyes are closed or when I’m looking upwards, both of which apply to standing in the shower and shampooing! Okay, I decided to get a shower seat, to sit safely in the shower without feeling like I was going to fall and crack my head. So I bop on down to the store, and within the hour emerged with a box of parts to assemble. The assembly was simple enough, but I was slightly miffed. Thirty-five bucks for an ugly plastic thing! Granted, the new piece of furniture cluttering up our small bathroom is not just a shower seat — we all love the fact that it makes a great book or laptop bench when one is parked in the bathroom. But holy cows, can’t someone design something useful that doesn’t look like it came home from the hospital?
I haven’t used a cane often enough to warrant getting a fancy one, or to become a connoisseur of the various features. But when I do have a badly-twisted ankle, I’ve come to appreciate how a cane helps ease my gait. It also made a dandy pointer when I taught horticulture classes. It even gives you something to lean upon when waiting on a bench. But as everyone who’s ever used a cane knows, canes are annoying when you’re not using them. They’re hard to park securely when you’re dining, and they’re damn awkward if you’re traveling, especially on airplanes. That’s why I got a folding cane. I can just stretch the ends a bit and pop it out of joint, and fold it up to store in my carry-on bag. It’s also pretty fun to pull out and give it a little flick and click-click-click everything snaps into place. (I find this feature terribly amusing.) Currently, it lives on the floor of my car, out of the way behind the driver’s seat, waiting for the next time I need it.
What’s your favorite thing for making your life easier?