Nickie Coby (puppybraille) wrote,
Nickie Coby

Junior Year Toolbox/Survival Strategies

Between previous entries I've written about using the idea of a toolbox and other readings I've consumed about the concept, I've definitely learned about both the concept and the actual tools I can use. Let's review: In this context, a toolbox is a collection of ideas, concepts and materials which can be used to manage a condition, difficult situation or challenging fall-out from either of these things. I personally use the concept of a toolbox to handle blindness related issues and live a good life even with chronic pain. As this year will be different from the years before it in many ways, I feel it might be beneficial to review the tools I have available to me.

Mainly, I'm brainstorming, so these tools aren't in any particular order. This is just a chance to share what I'll use so others might be more aware of what's available and so friends will know what I'm using in case I fall apart and need a reminder.

Friends: Without friends, I wouldn't function nearly so well. Friends hold me up when I’m stressed to the point where I can't think. They remind me of what I'm really capable of and encourage me to accept help when I need it but don't want it. They provide suggestions of how to manage situations. They also provide tangible help, when I need it. This help includes getting food, helping me go to the doctors' appointments, getting medications and things to help me be somewhat more comfortable, assistance learning routes, help with reading things and tons of other support. The key to this is to be supportive and help them when they need it, and ask for help, even though it's sometimes quite hard to do.

Prayer: Prayer is hard to do right now. Dealing with the darkness I feel becomes very challenging. But God provides the reassurance, help and comfort I need.

Blogging: Blogging serves a lot of purposes for me. It's an outlet where I begin to process tough issues. Blogging is a way for me to being a path to peace with a given situation. Blogging links me to friends and can be a method of prayer. Blogging also gives me a way to look back at life and see progress. Finally, when there's a concept I need to revisit, blogging makes it possible to do so easily. Yes, I've been known to do a search using the custom search engine toward the bottom of the blog to find a particular post.

Delicious links: between being able to tag and being able to search through the links I've collected for the last year and a half, I have quite a bit of knowledge available to me for both school and personal pursuits. It's great to have a braintrust of wonderful articles, products and services.

Music: I've collected quite a bit of music on my computer and compact disc (not like I can ever find the latter items). Music is known to help people with chronic pain, serve as a distraction and improve mood. It helps me study, do physical therapy and pretty much anything I need help with.

Relaxation/meditation: These activities help manage pain and nausea and provide a much needed break from reality. Relaxation also helps me deal with reality. If, and I admit this is a big if, I can successfully relax while dealing with a stressful issue, it sometimes provides a needed perspective.

Aromatherapy: This is a support too. Essential oils and products containing therapeutic levels of them provide relaxation, clarity of mind, pain relief and relief from nausea.

Heat: This is a great way to deal with headaches, muscle pain, CRPS pain and make me feel better.

Baths: Baths are something that has finally become fun again. With a few simple adjustments, I've actually been able to enjoy them as much as I used to, before CRPS.

Google: Google and other search engines allow me to find nearly as much information as my sighted peers.

The library web site: This provides lots of great databases which I use to find journal articles and abstracts, magazine articles, news papers and other bits of information.

My Bloglines Feeds: By reading other blogs I learn a lot, and am so much richer for the experience.

Medications: As much as I would love to not need them anymore, I still need my meds. They do allow me to go to school, even though I'm in a lot of pain.

Julio: Like my friends, I feel uncomfortable calling him a tool, so we'll say "resource". But he provides security, companionship and more things which I cannot quantify.

Disability services: What would I do without them? I know others who went before me didn't have this support, but I truly can't imagine college life without them.

Professors: My profs are great resources,, and when I need their help, most of them help willingly.

Pillows: These provide support, elevation and comfort. They are wonderful tools.

Soft blankets: Being warm with soft blankets increases comfort, and helps prevent the purple-effect, except when it doesn't.

Braille skills: I find that braille skills save my bottom even more than I probably realize. Having the ability to read Braille means I don't have computer speech in one ear and the teacher in the other. I do use speech, but I must have my Braille.

Slate and stylus skills: Technology has not totally replaced my need for the slate and stylus. When I forget to charge my batteries, my slate and stylus still works.

Assistive technology: That said, I am so glad I have technology that's accessible. I've listed some of it, but things like Window-Eyes, the BrailleNote, BookPort and the victor Stream (which I can't wait to get), all make my life easier; I read faster, write faster, do more and enjoy it more easily with technology.

My doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners: With their help, I have a sliver of hope to someday, maybe feel better. They listen, ask questions and help me find solutions. And, they don't abandon me.

Mobility skills: I do have decent orientation and mobility skills which I can use. These skills when put to use can be incredibly useful. I need to remember that difficulty is normal. Need to is more accurate here, my hatred of my imperfection of skills is strong, but they are a resource and I should remember that.

Campus Security: When needed, I, like other students can ask for help from security.

Pharmacist: My pharmacists can be very helpful. They check my meds to make sure they don't interact harmfully, and explain things about the medications I'm unlikely to understand.

My apartment advisor: My AA seems very nice, and I've found RA's to be very helpful in the past. I have no doubt I will find this to be the case this year in this new building.

Fellow human beings: Other people at school and in the community can sometimes provide vital information, such as the fact that a street is closed, or that I am not quite at the bus stop.

I know that there are many resources I'm forgetting, but wanted to start this list, since I'm feeling quite overwhelmed by everything right now. I also got this idea based from the toolkit idea promoted by many.

Writing about my tools doesn't make the overwhelming things go away, but it does mean I know I have my tools readily available. Knowing this helps so much. I suspect that in a while, I will feel less overwhelmed.


Pain Support web site: Which reminds me monthly or so to use my toolbox.

Also, see previous information in the book or blog about toolboxes and college.
Tags: accessibility, aromatherapy, blogs, chronic pain, college, disability related, faith, guide dogs, health, holistic therapies, just plain life, music and movies, prayer, reading, relaxation, rsd sucks, social work, tool box

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