How Do We Complete Challenging Tasks?

Have you ever wondered how disabled people complete everyday tasks? Most tasks that abled people do disabled people also have to do they just may have a more difficult time completing them. Since Karly and my disabilities are so different we collaborated and put together a few everyday tasks that we have difficulty with and show you how we complete them.

Grocery shopping

How I do it 

I love grocery shopping! Since my eyes don’t work together I can’t drive myself so I don’t get to go very often. When grocery shopping I face many challenges so going alone is not an option for me. Some of the challenges that I may face are high shelves, and inability to carry multiple items. Since I drive a manual wheelchair using a basket is difficult because it makes it very hard to steer. Putting items up on the counter to check out is usually not a problem for me unless the card reader is too high because then it is difficult to see what I am doing so in those instances I may need assistance. After I get home from the grocery store I may need some assistance bringing them in. My wheelchair does not come into my house but instead, I walk with my crutches so I can stay as active as possible. Carrying heavy bags is challenging with crutches because sometimes they make it difficult to walk or they just get in the way.

How Karly does it

When I go grocery shopping, I need to have someone with me because I have limited mobility and strength in my arms. Most shelves are out of my reach, and anything heavier than about one pound is too heavy for me. Pushing a cart is difficult for me but holding a basket is doable if I balance it on my footrests. With the basket by my feet, my hands are free to drive my chair and pick up items.

I can usually reach to put items up at the checkout counter, as long as those items are lightweight. I do sometimes need help swiping my debit card since the card readers are usually a little higher up. So, while I can help, there’s not much I can do by myself while grocery shopping! Once we get the groceries home, I can actually carry pretty heavy bags by letting the weight rest on my lap. I also hang bags off my chair as well.

Cleaning the house 

How I do it

I can’t stand for long periods of time so any tasks that require that I will be unable to do. Putting my clothes away, organizing drawers, wiping countertops are all tasks that I don’t have difficulty with. Things such as cleaning a shower are difficult because sometimes the shower head is hard for me to reach and I may have to stand for extended periods of time.

How Karly does it

There are only a few things I can realistically, do to help clean the house. My arms are pretty weak, so it has to be tasks that don’t require a lot of strength. I can dust or wipe down surfaces, organize bookshelves, cabinets, or drawers, carry items to another room to be put away, and carry the trash out to the dumpster (I let the weight rest on my footrests). It’s a joke in my family that if anyone needs a bulldozer, I’m your girl. Maybe I can’t do much, but I can push heavy boxes with my wheelchair like a champ


How I do it

My workout routines are going to be very different from an abled person’s. When working out I first have to select a YouTube video I am interested in. Then I have to watch that video to make sure I am physically able to do all or most of the moves. Sometimes I may think I am able to do a video but it turns out I can only do the first five minutes! If I am only unable to do one or two moves I switch them out for something I can do.

How Karly does it

Because of my Muscular Dystrophy, I’m not able to work out. I don’t have the strength or mobility required to even do basic stretches. However, I’ve found that I’m able to maintain body confidence by reminding myself that it’s not my fault that I can’t exercise. It’s not a choice I make out of laziness or negativity. Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, so I’ve chosen to accept the shape and size of mine. It does get hard sometimes, but reading and watching content from other disabled women is a big help and comfort.

Making a sandwich

How I do it

I can pretty much make a sandwich without assistance. Almost everything in my refrigerator is within my reach so getting condiments or lunch meat from the fridge is not usually a problem. If something has to be cut I may struggle with it but most of the time that is not the case. Since I cannot stand for long periods of time I don’t make sandwiches standing up. I am less stable and if I am using a knife that can go wrong real fast. So for safety reasons, I don’t do any meal preparations standing up.

How Karly does it 

I can do 90% of the steps to make a sandwich as long as all the different ingredients are within my reach. Anything refrigerated can be placed in one of the shelves on the inside of the door. That way I don’t have to reach inside and I can choose which height works best for me. I can reach my kitchen counter, so if the bread is left out I can grab that as well. The hardest part of making a sandwich for me is opening condiments. I can’t open jars and even containers that you squeeze are usually too heavy or hard to manage for me.

Washing the dishes

How I do it

In my current home, I struggle with doing the dishes. There is no chair close enough to the sink that I can easily pull up a chair and wash the dishes. My disability makes standing for long periods of time difficult so if I can’t do them sitting down it is not a possibility.

How Karly does it

Because my footrests take up so much space in front of me, I struggle to get to the sink. If I were to help with dishes, I’d only be able to help by putting lightweight dishes (usually plastic) into the dishwasher. Pots, pans, and heavy glass dishes are too bulky and difficult for me to hold. I can use my feet to push the drawers back in, and I can actually use the footrests of my chair to pick up the door, which I can then use the front of my chair to fully close.

Getting dressed 

How I do it

When getting dressed I don’t need any assistance. The most difficult part of getting dressed is getting a dress off of a hanger. When getting a dress down I usually don’t use my crutches because they just get in the way but instead just hold onto the wall. It is challenging that way because I don’t have as much stability than I would if I was using my crutches. Another challenge with getting dressed is putting on a pair of pants some pants don’t work well with my braces so they get caught when pulling them up. I prefer things that are stretchy so this does not happen. Putting on a t-shirt is not difficult because you can easily slip that on and off.

How Karly does it

I need total assistance to get dressed. In the morning, my mom will usually start by putting my pants on while I’m still in bed. It’s easier this way since I can’t stand up at all to pull them up. Once I’m in my chair, she helps me put my shirt or dress on. I can only wear clothing that is easy to stretch because my arms and legs don’t straighten out all the way. My clothes have to make up for the flexibility I lack. I usually wear sneakers or sandals that are easy to slip on because my feet are very weak and I can’t wiggle my toes loose if they get stuck inside a shoe.

I do find a little bit of freedom and control with makeup, though! It’s the one step I can do independently. I purchase products that are easy to open, like eyeshadow palettes with magnetic lids for example. I keep everything in my desk drawer so it’s all where I can easily access.

Some tasks may be challenging but people with disabilities still find a way to get it done even if it requires assistance. Forgetting or not doing the task altogether may not be an option. If you are struggling with completing everyday tasks try finding a new way to do that task. Never give up just because things go difficult! Thank you, Karly, for collaborating on this blog with me I could not have done it without you. If you have any questions about how we complete difficult tasks or would like to see more please leave them in the comments below.

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