Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Minor decisions with major consequences 1

It’s been three years and 11 months since I sustained my SCI and I’m still learning. Unfortunately, I’m learning the hard way, but at least I’m writing it all down.

It’s hard to publicly admit when you have done something stupid, but, my goal for writing this blog has always been to be honest, share my stories so others can learn, or in the least so you can understand what living with paralysis is like.

So it is with my tail between my legs that I share what happened yesterday while I was making supper. We had company, so I was making a large batch of potato salad. I boiled the potatoes and slid the pot across the counter to drain them in my prep sink. While doing so I felt something kick me in my tailbone – a very strange sensations especially because I normally don’t feel anything there. I actually turned around to see if one of the kids was poking me between the backrest and seat cushion of my wheelchair. No one was there.

Then it happened again – and I clued in.

I was burning my leg, but couldn’t feel it. The heat from the boiled potatoes was transferring through the stainless steel sink, through the thin fabric of my dress and to my knee. I rolled away and pulled up my dress to see that the skin on my right knee was very (angry) red and had already formed a blister about 1.5” around.

I was mad. The string of curse words bears not to be repeated. I grabbed a bag of frozen blueberries and applied it to my knee to take the heat away from the skin, keeping it there until some of the redness subsided.

The reason why this is such an embarrassing thing to happen is because I had just finished editing the second draft of my “Build YOUR Home” book where I talk about how to avoid this exact situation. I knew this could happen and yet I had done nothing to avoid it in my own life.

Just one small section from my almost finished book. It has the working title of “Build YOUR Space – How to create an accessible home that is perfect for you, your family and your future”

I can hear you saying, “Julie, why is your sink set up this way?”

Here is my explanation. When we designed the kitchen we put a sink in the lower section of the counter to be the “prep sink”. It was at the right height for me to wash my hands or prep food. What I didn’t do was communicate to our plumber how important the depth of the sink was. The counter was at the height were a 5” deep sink would work perfectly. I would be able to roll underneath it and not come in contact with the stainless steel. When the kitchen and sinks were all finished being installed I came into the house to find that the prep sink was in fact 5.5” deep. I tried to roll underneath it only to discover that my knees jammed right up tight to the steel bottom. It was a big miss that, at the time, I just waved off and said “I’ll make it work”. Our plumber had not able to find a prep/bar sink at 5” so he got the best that he could – thinking that 5.5” would do.

This is the view from below my prep sink.

There are a number of things that I could have done to prevent this, my second major burn, from happening. But as we all know hindsight is 20-20…

What will happen next is the placement of a guard in front of the skink so that I can’t roll under and mash my already wounded leg into the bottom of the sink. I will also be shopping for a replacement, which is tricky because it is going to have to be the exact same (or slightly larger) size of sink but shallower.

I will also be writing another “sidebar” for my book. I use sidebars to tell personal stories about how house building decisions, even ones that seem minor (like half an inch) can have major consequences.

It’s hard to believe that I had to get out the sterile skin wound dressings that I still have from the campfire incident. That was almost one year ago.

Live and learn.

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