Don’t rely on help, but know when to ask for it

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I know more than a few people who rely on others to help them just way too often. This includes people with muscular dystrophy and even many able-bodied folks as well. I believe it’s really important not to rely on someone for every little thing otherwise you might never know what is possible and even might lose some of your abilities. However there are times when asking for help is either necessary or might save you a lot of time.

One thing I am known to do is rearrange my living space frequently. I usually do this without anybody’s help. How? I use my power chair to maneuver furniture — beds, couches, anything! It’s something like a logic challenge and it’s probably not the fastest way to do it, but I like it anyway. I recently rearranged my apartment and one of my friends couldn’t believe I did it myself. That was extremely satisfying.

But this philosophy extends to even smaller things like getting dressed or showering or grocery shopping or running errands. I like to do these things myself. It’s not that difficult and it’s probably good low impact exercise.

More importantly though I highly recommend doing any regular physical activities with as little help as possible. This includes getting up from chairs or getting out of bed. Until you are absolutely sure you are physically incapable of doing these things I suggest struggling to figure out a way to do it until you can struggle no more.

Several years ago I was nervous that I might not be able to get out of bed by myself anymore. The truth was that yes, the way I was doing it I wasn’t going to be able to do it much longer anymore. But after trying several new ways of positioning myself, using my arms and focusing on leverage, I discovered a brand new way of getting out of bed by myself. It was great. But had I never tried to figure out a new way, I might never have learned it. I might have started relying on someone else and that just adds a whole other layer to dealing with muscular dystrophy.

But there are times when you can benefit by asking for help. This includes times when your safety might be at risk. If it doesn’t feel like you will safely be able to do something — ask for help. Also, if asking someone to help you will save you a tremendous amount of time or prevent you from damaging your surroundings, then definitely ask for help. Lastly, if you have tried something yourself several times and see little chance of success on your own, then ask for help. But try as much as you can first.

Another thing you can do if you find you need help figuring out things like how to get up from bed or transfer more effectively is talk to someone trained as a physical therapist or ask your doctor to recommend someone knowledgeable in assistive therapy.

Everyone likes their independence and the only way to maintain this for as long as possible is to keep doing things as long as possible. But there is not one person in this world who doesn’t need help at some time. Remember that when you feel like you need assistance.

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