Saturday, February 11, 2012

One Stroky’s Journey: Anti-frustration Buckets

A plastic bucket enhances this stroky’s independence. 
Three or four inexpensive plastic buckets have been my ticket to reducing frustration at some of the limitations imposed by the stroke I experienced April 22, 2011. Some months ago my therapists cleared me to walk around with a walker even when I am home by myself. I did an internal “Hooray!” Up until then I was confined to moving about via wheelchair when I was alone.

My expectation was that I could do at least a little bit of the housework that husband Walter was handling on top of everything else he was doing in caring for me. After a little experimentation, I found that buckets topped small laundry baskets and other rectangular or square containers for a stroke survivor with limited function in the left hand. At least that was true for me. And “limited” until recently meant practically no function at all!

A bucket solved the difficulty I had lifting a loaded laundry basket from the walker seat to another surface. With the bucket if I needed to move the contents to another surface, it was no problem. I could just grab the bucket’s handle and go, no matter how heavy the contents. I am sure there are square containers available with handles, but we already had buckets.

The buckets tend to stay on the walker seat better than the other containers I tried. They even make it possible for me to move clothes on hangers from laundry room to closet. Holding the hangers, I can just drape the garments over the bucket that is situated on the walker seat. I can then bring them back toward me in a loose fold. The hangers don’t slide out and the clothes don’t slide off.

The downside is that I can’t move as much “stuff” at one time as I could pre-stroke. Now I usually make multiple trips to complete even the simplest of tasks.

I’ve learned, for example, to do smaller loads of laundry so that I can complete everything from sorting, loading the washer, drying, folding and putting away. Each time I am able to “completely” complete a task, I feel victorious, joyful, thankful, and tired.

To celebrate I usually reward myself with a Granny Smith apple. I prop up in bed with two pillows at my back and legs stretched out, oh, so comfortably in front of me. I grab a paperback with my cooperative right hand and start the juggling process. That same hand turns pages, holds the book open while I read a bit, closes the book, lays it down and picks up my apple. How I savor the crunch and tart juiciness! Of course, the Granny Smith has to be one of the larger ones sold loose at our supermarket. The smaller ones in the 3-lb. bags won’t do. Usually the little ones don’t measure up in crunchiness, tartness or juiciness.

After attempting a number of different chores, I have found that, for the present, doing a portion of the weekly laundry and decluttering our kitchen table are the tasks that I seem able to finish and that contribute most to my peace of mind. Dear hubby and I are both clutter bugs, and since my return from the hospital after my stroke, the kitchen table has served as stroky central. Post-stroke, it is the easiest place for me to work on my computer, to deal with paperwork and phone calls for business or health, to manage medications and to fold clothes.

Okay, I have to confess, any folding of laundry that I do usually has to occur somewhere else. I haven’t come close to conquering the clutter. But I shall prevail!

At least I am keeping enough space cleared for my computer and the writing, addressing and stamping involved in snail mail. Yes, I am one of those individuals who still uses the services of the U.S. Postal Service. Whether our latest batch of forever stamps will outlive that venerable institution remains to be seen.

Oh, and back to the laundry. I wasn’t good at folding laundry neatly before my stroke. Now, with left hand still not up to full participation, my finished product is even less tidy. But Arkansas Patti gave me hope and a good laugh with a recent post on her blog The New Sixty.

She reports that she was watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory, now in syndication. She features a video of the part of that episode that was life-changing for her. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon, the lead character and an off-the-charts anal retentive, was using a clothes-folding gadget that triggered Patti’s shopping hormones. She is ecstatic about her new purchase.

Her humorous review has convinced me. I am ready to exercise my own shopping hormones and purchase a Flip Folder. Even though it probably won’t fit in my anti-frustration bucket, I think a pink Flip Folder will contrast nicely with my bucket, and it will surely qualify as an anti-frustration gadget.


  1. I am so happy that you have more independence. Your post really has made me think. We live in a three story house. All bedrooms are on the top level. All bathing facilities are on the top level. There is a small bath 1/2 bath on the main level. The laundry room is in the basement. If I were to have a stroke, I could not do the laundry at all. Since my fall, I have really wanted to move to a one level home. As we age, these stairs are just not a good thing. If illness hits, they are really not a good thing.

  2. this is truly and amazing story today, i am so happy you are able to carry that bucket and move around without your chair. HOORAY from Florida. and you are so creative, great job on that. does this mean you are typing all this with one hand? yowsa on that.

  3. First me, then David. We keep our own walker stored in the laundry room. I am thinking about building a ramp at the front of the house. No point in waiting until we need it.

    I like your innovation. It helps to share things with others I think. Makes the imponderable seem ponderable. Dianne

  4. Frustration is the mother of invention!

    Trying to do things, even if slowly and awkwardly is going to help on the way to full recovery much better than sitting back and wailing. It's great exercise!

  5. You're a smart cookie! I love it when something comes to fruition like that and makes life easier. Good thinking!

  6. Your creativity and determination are very impressive. You do continue to amaze.
    Thank you for the shout out and I thought of you when I posted since the flip fold can be done with one hand. Sure hope it works for you.

  7. Well aren't you just filled with helpful hints today?! Who knew that a bucket could have so many extra uses, and that flip folder is awesome! Now why didn't I think of that clever invention???

    I can identify with "table clutter"! LOL

    Congrats on moving one step closer to independence :)

  8. You are so resourceful. I'm happy to find out that nothing seems to stop you. Keep it up.
    God is good and he is there for every step of your journey.