As I am quite disabled, finding products that make life easier and increase my independence is very important to me. I also don’t like my stuff to shout out “I’m for a disabled person!”. Obviously with things like wheelchairs and commodes that’s hard to avoid, but there are some items that make my life a lot easier without making me feel self conscious about having them.
The Trabasack is a brilliant idea. It basically combines a laptray with a bag, and it has been really useful for me, especially since I got my tablet computer. It is very lightweight, and I use it a lot. My main use of it used to be when I went out in my wheelchair- I’d have the bag on my lap strapped around my waist (it comes with lots of different straps so you can change how it’s attached or how you wear it) and the bag holds a lot of stuff- my ASUS Eeepad Transformer, my purse, my phone, sick bags, bus pass, tissues, wipes, medication, college books and even a bottle of coke. As the top is a laptray with a grippy surface, it is really easy to use my tablet while out and about (both with and without the keyboard) and I don’t have to worry about it falling off. I also use it a lot in bed, both for my tablet (normally for typing with the keyboard) and for eating. It’s also big enough for using with a laptop, though I use my overbed table for that as the laptop is heavy. As it’s so lightweight I can manage it by myself by grabbing the handles, which increases my independence. It also looks pretty cool, and isn’t obviously a disability product, which is awesome. I’ve also been able to attach a couple of penguins to mine which is another big plus from me 🙂
I managed to break the zip on mine somehow (though it’s still usable) and the guy who created it, Duncan (@trabasack on Twitter) has offered to replace it for me. This is very kind of him and I may have cried a little, as it’s not a big company but he really cares about his customers. He’s also really friendly in general on Twitter, and I enjoy reading his tweets.
The only downside to the Trabasack is that the bag is one big bag, and there’s only a zip up pouch inside for the beanbag for the laptray (which is removable). This can make things a bit hard to find in it, but I’ve solved this issue by taking a small zip bag I had (purple, of course) and putting the smaller items such as bus pass, phone, sick bags, medication and things in that. I store the extra straps it comes with in the pouch with the beanbag in case I ever want to use some of them. It is only a very small downside though, and I recommend it as both a wheelchair bag and a bag for people who use tablets or things on the go. It basically means you can have a table with you everywhere (and if you’re a wheelchair user, you have your own chair as well, which is cool :P).
You can get the Trabasack from Amazon UK, or directly from trabasack.co.uk. It may look expensive for a bag but it’s definitely worth it.
This is another of those brilliant ideas. Basically, the Hydrant is a water bottle with a tube, so instead of having to lift the bottle you just need to bit on the end of the tube and suck to be able to get a drink. For someone who is very weak and has limited contol over their hands, it’s awesome. It holds 1 litre, which means Johan (or any carer) doesn’t need to fill it up that often and then I’m able to drink independently. It has a clip to attach it to the back of a chair, bed, wheelchair or similar, and that also works as a large handle to fit your hand through. The bite valve is very simple but stops water leaking out (unless you sit or lie on it, which I do far too often :P). I get a very dry mouth from my medication so being able to have a drink whenever I want is very important. There is also a sports cap available for it that you can use if you don’t need the tube, but just want a bottle that attaches to a chair or pram (or just want a bigger handle so it’s easier to use).
The only downsides to the Hydrant are it’s not suitable for hot drinks (warm and cold are fine, even fizzy ones) and I find I can’t manage to take tablets with it, though that’s probably because I struggle with taking tablets anyway and can’t coordinate the sucking and swallowing at the same time. Otherwise it’s been brilliant, and Johan is able to tell when it needs refilling by the sound of me sucking on it (it sounds like an empty drink with a straw).
You can get the Hydrant from hydrateforhealth.co.uk. I really recommend it to Spoonies, especially those who are bedbound or use wheelchairs.
This isn’t advertised at all as a disability related item, but I’ve found it useful anyway. The Litecup is a cup with a non-spill top, and a little light in the bottom that comes on when it’s dark. The valve on the top goes all the way around, so you can drink from anywhere. The light means you can find it in the middle of the night without having to hunt blindly for it. I like it because it doesn’t spill, I can use it while lying flat in bed (I often drink from it upside down resting on my nose and mouth, just stabilising it with my hands) and unlike the Hydrant, I can take my medication with it as it’s more like drinking from a normal cup. It doesn’t have any handles but it’s easy to use with two hands, and it being non-spill is brilliant if you’re as clumsy as me and means I don’t end up with half my drink down my front. It’s not watertight so you don’t want to be putting it filled in a bag, but it’s good for not spilling otherwise. I’ve not tried it with a hot drink but I think it should be okay. It also comes in purple, which is a massive plus!
The downsides to the Litecup are that it has no handles, and it not being watertight so you can’t have it filled in a bag. It’s also a little tricky to clean, though can be dishwashed. The top with the valve comes apart, but we’ve found if you do that it’s hard to line the valve up properly again, so it’s harder to drink from one side but easier on another. I also can’t use it independently when my hands are weak or being stupid, but since I mostly use it for drinking from when taking medication and I need Johan to help with with that if hands are being silly then that’s not a major problem.
I bought my Litecup from Amazon UK (and spare light bottoms are available from there too, in either blue or red). The website is at litecup.com.
These are not the only products I use to help me, but what they all have in common is that they don’t look explicitly for disabled people, and I’ve found them very useful. I also use all of them daily, including when bedbound.