I was thinking earlier today about my grabbers. Remember when you were a kid and you desired those dinosaur head sticks that have a handle on the opposite end as the head? Well, when I was in inpatient rehab just after my stroke, one of the things they gave me in my first group of new equipment was a thing called a grabber.
It’s very similar to the dinos only without the dino head. You would think that with all the excitement surrounding these dino head things in your childhood that when you got one as an adult and were told, “These are very important and will help you so very much in the next few months,” you might know instantly how to use them. No, it’s not true. Like so many other things in my experience with being a disabled hemiparetic, no one can hand you anything or put you in or on something and you will know instantly what to do. I hated the grabbers, they were a curse! And my first Occupational therapist was really ignorant and that really compounded my frustration with everything. She kept asking me to use them for the silliest things! Every time I’d reach for something she’d clear her throat and say “grabbers.” Just frustrating but back then I had this outlook that even if I was mad or depressed I would push it aside and do what I was told. After all, it was easier to do when one button brought you a nurse with a shot of dilaudid.
I would use the grabbers as often as I could while in rehab. Cold? Let me just use my grabbers to “hand” you my blanket. Thirsty? My grabbers will “hand” you an unopened warm can of soda (I had no mini fridge in my rehab room, all my drinks were warm). Want that drink to be cold? Let me just use my grabbers to push the nurse call button and she can bring you a cup of ice.
While waiting for visitors, after I had done everything I could do to prepare for them, I sat on the bed completely exhausted and ready to nap but I had to stay awake and couldn’t look gnarly for them. My hair! It was brushed but I was always in bed and suffered greatly from constant bedhead. My solution? Dry shampoo, which, by the way, is completely uselss without water, makes no sense. I was sitting up in bed and I reached for the tray on wheels that never ever rolled the way I wanted it to. I used my grabbers to grab the tray and pull it towards me. The “shampoo” was not on it, much to my dismay. **gasp** where could it be? I looked around, TA-DA! It was on the left side of my bed on the side table. Only my visitors used that table. I had no idea how the can ended up over there. But I was excited; MY GRABBERS!!!!! I finally had a real reason to use them! I positioned myself so I could see the table and the can, I have a pretty significant blank spot in the bottom left corner of my left eye so I really had to turn to see. I started reaching for the can with the grabbers. I bet my tongue was hanging out the side of my mouth as I focused (LOL). I had the rubber grips around the can when suddenly my grabbers twisted and plop/flop/smack, the can tumbled to the floor. “CRAP” OK, scoot closer to the edge of the bed. Remember, all of this is out of a form of laziness (I used all my energy to get dressed) and I didn’t really want to bust out my other equipment just to walk around the bed to get the damned can. I reached down with the grabbers while holding myself up riskily on the pillows I had propped. The grabbers grazed the side of the can only succeeding in nudging it further out of reach. Yet, me being stubborn, I try again. The grabbers didn’t even reach the can but they sure did hit the floor hard.
So there I was less than 5 minutes later, completely clueless as to what to do next. I dropped my grabbers! There was no course given on “What to do when you drop your grabbers.” I just laid there with my hair knotted, my dry shampoo and grabbers on the floor and my mouth hanging open. What do you do when you drop your grabbers? How do you reach without your reacher? I called a nurse to help. I asked her if this had ever happened to any other patient before. Her response, “Honey, half the things that happen to you have never happened to any of my other patients.” She had no answers and retrieved my grabbers and the can for me.
The next day I told my OT I was going to keep the grabbers but refused to have her force me to use them. She had no answers either and I told her (and it wouldn’t be the only time either) that I would rather learn everything the old fashion way, the hard way, rather than becoming dependent on something like some shady grabbers. I only use them in the shower now, for the shower curtain. Every now and then it’ll go behind a piece of furniture for a toy a kid lost but other than that, the grabbers stay in the bathroom between the shitter and the tub…where they belong.