So I’ve been told many times that I don’t look like I’m disabled or that there’s anything wrong with me. However, after a stint at the Ottawa pain clinic in their month-long program, I realized that even though others may not classify me as disabled just by looking at me, it’s better for me and for my long-term well-being to accept my limitations and to try to work around them rather than getting frustrated and very angry that they wouldn’t go away. It just became so pointless to try and fight what was going on, so that program taught me that even though I don’t have to give up, I can learn to live within my limitations and to try to work around them as much as possible.
One of the things that I’ve had a real hard time with (one of the many things) is learning how to do daily tasks like using the computer or being creative despite my limitations. Recently, I started trying to use dictation software again – I used Dragon Dictate while I was doing my masters degree to help me with taking notes out of textbooks, but I haven’t used it much since. I can’t really write by hand anymore, nor can I read books unless they’re digital so that I can view them on my computer screen at eye-level. Dragon Dictate is a great program, and I’m really enjoying the fact that recently Mac’s OS X Yosemite has introduced a lower level version of Dragon Dictate (also created by Nuance) so that I can actually speak to the computer and have my words recorded that way rather than using the keyboard. Even right now, this paragraph is being done by dictation rather than by me using the keyboard. It’s actually pretty good – compared to Dragon Dictate it’s not as advanced nor as accurate, but considering the amount of pain that it’s saving me I’m okay with using the built-in dictation software for now. Likely I will end up buying a newer version of Dragon Dictate soon anyway, the built-in software is a good way to practice using the software again.
I’m also using things like remote control apps on my phone and on my iPad to access my computer from a distance. I’ve recently discovered that the set up I have at home with my laptop on a small stand in front of my futon couch is not ideal for protecting me from pain. I bought a hammock-style lawn chair at IKEA and have put that literally into the middle of my little living room as my impromptu lazy boy chair. It’s good and it’s light enough for me to move around and it also has several settings to recline to. I found the back to be much more supportive than my couch, and it seems to be helping with my pain levels a lot. However the apps aren’t very good as far as being able to type much with them, so that’s where the dictation software comes in. The software isn’t perfect and I do have to make the odd correction by hand,* but it’s much better than the alternative of ending up in a lot of pain because of sitting in front of a not-so-greatly set up workstation. I seem to be able to access the internet and my apps fairly easily using the remote control apps, which means that I can do my creative work like using my cross stitch pattern making software or following along with my Craftsy art lessons online by connecting the laptop to my TV using a HDMI cable.
For my scrollbar frame, I’m rotating several stands to allow me to stitch while reclined on the deck chair. The angle was a little bit different than what I was used to while stitching on my couch, so I did a bit of experimentation and have come up with one not too bad solution. Basically I’ve used plastic shelf cube units that I’ve broken in half, taped together into lengths, and constructed a small frame to hold the scroll bar frame. To boost it up a little bit more and give it more stability I’m sitting the frame onto a small “lap shelf” that I bought from Staples – it’s basically a piece of wood with some padding underneath that you would use to create a hard surface on your lap for writing, kind of like a mini portable table. The small shelf allows me to position the scrollbar frame stand in a way that I can stitch without stretching my arms too much or bending my neck too much. So far it’s working well and I’ve made some decent progress on my Michelangelo piece.
So that’s it for now, do you have any special ways that you’ve adapted how you do things?
* As an example of some of the mistakes this software is making, it mistook the words cross stitch for the word prostate. Definitely not what I was trying to say, but pretty funny to read back.