What can still be done after a TBI when you want to DYI

After losing the use of my left hand I soon found that to accomplish any kind of heavy duty carpentry work, protection in the form of flexible yet durable high dexterity work gloves was essential to minimize injury to my still fully functional, though slightly weakened hand. You can end up spending a fortune on every adaptive device in your local OTR’s [Occupational Therapist] catalog of stuff, but this wasn’t even on their radar: “you’re disabled; you’re not going to be cutting steel or tearing down buildings for your next shop project.” Some of that stuff in the catalog was pretty good and I had picked out dozens of one handed aids, mostly to stuff like cooking, food preparation or tying your shoes, all high on an OT’s ADL list, but nothing for using real tools when Kathy [my OTA] asked a question I had yet to even consider. “How are you going to pay for all this stuff?” “Well I assume my insurance will pay for most of it; as for the rest I wasn’t exactly broke when I was working, there should be plenty in my bank account to cover it.” It was almost 5 minutes before she quit laughing at me. “Most of your money went to pay your Lawyer’s air fare, and as for insurance, the reason you’re here and not still getting rehab in a hospital is because it ran out, and I hear he had to do some pretty fancy talking to get you to stay here until your neck and back heals and the doctors are willing to risk taking all that metal and plastic off that is holding you together while we help you learn to walk better and feed yourself.” “Oh yeah, guess I forgot. Well, screw all this stuff in the catalog for now then, I’ll just have to figure it out later. Kathy taught me a lot of stuff though, all my therapists did. Trimming my own nails one handed by tracking down a file on a counter was all hers though, and it was a good one. Nothing in that catalog about work gloves you could pick up a screw with off a table though. In the hospital Paul Davis taught me how to get dressed though it was very hard adjusting to putting on my pants one leg at a time, but life is a series of adjustments, and most of the rest I had to figure out on my own, though my Mother and Sister did help a Lot.

After becoming paralyzed on my left side due to a TBI 22 years ago in Seattle after a lot of rehab at Northwest Hospital Center for Medical Rehabilitation, and at New Medico CRS Washington, and more at the VA upon returning home to Missouri to live with my Mother for a time it became apparent to me that in the 10 years since my Father had passed away the front and back decks had fallen into disrepair when a friend of mine was over installing some computer software and when leaving plunged through the second step of my front stairwell [he did weigh 300 lbs. at the time so he didn't think much of it]. I had that patched before sundown with a bit of new lumber, but after inspecting all the planks began a very large renovation of the Aft Deck, splicing joists that were rotted on the end first, then eventually replacing all but a few joists. Since I could only use one hand I pre-drilled holes for all the deck screws but starting 20 or 30 deck screws per plank with bare hands soon left my fingertips cut and dripping blood. Putting on band aids with one hand is not so easy when they have to go on the same hand you are using, so that got old real fast but I still had a job to finish so for a couple of days tried putting on band aids before getting cut. This was better, but went through a lot of bandages as they sliced up almost as easy as my skin. Then I remembered these pricey work gloves I’d seen at the lumber yard, crunched a few numbers in my head, and decided they were well worth the price. Through 2 decks, a flight of stairs and a garage repair burned through several pairs, however in view of my current physical limitations they were, and are indispensable.