Fibromyalgia and Handling day to day tasks
With as little stress and strain as possible
Part three
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In other pages, I discuss the bio mechanics of how we move, and how to minimize pain and strain, on this page, I would like to expand that, to some very common day to day activities, that we can perhaps do with less body or mental stress.  As with all such tips, these are my own personal experiences and you  use them,  at your own risk.

Cleaning out the refrigerator:

Now this is one of those jobs, that yes, has to be done, but not that often for starters. A general wipe it down as you go, will prevent having to do this one very often. But sometimes, you just gotta do it.

This is a major task, so a few tips to make it less of a chore. Major hint: Toss out anything that has turned into a science project, as you go and lose any left overs that might spill, for the same reason. ( Another tip, do such cleaning just BEFORE you go do a major shop, so the ice box is emptier ) 

For starters, get yourself a large ice chest, one that will hold everything that cannot stand out for an hour or so, without harm. Put all of the cold goods in first, then put in the stuff from the freezer.

I know, the temptation is to put the frozen stuff at the bottom of the chest, but there is a reason to do it this way. Just wait for it and it will explain itself. Then toss on top any ice you have in there and close the lid. Now what this does is A: keeps the frozen food from thawing out and B: keeps all the cold food, at a decent temperature, as cold air, drops. Not to mention, you now have all the food, in one place. Not all over the kitchen, which is more typically what happens and you get in a major rush on account of it, before everything warms up or thaws out. So by doing this, what you have given yourself, is more time.

Okay, we have all the food out, now what to tackle first ? First off turn off the freezer so it will start defrosting and not waste energy with it trying to freeze open air then, take out the shelves and march them right to the tub. Half fill the tub with hot soapy water and drop them in. The last to come out, will be the crisper drawers, which are often the most dirty part of the thing. And again, haul them right off to the tub and in they go. Let the stuff in the tub soak and then you can go back to a completely empty ice box, to clean it. 

Fully open both doors, pull up a chair near by and sit down for most of this, as there is no reason to stand there and bend over to reach things. Start at the top and work your way down. As otherwise, all you are doing is messing up areas you have already washed if you work from the bottom up, as what you wind up doing, is washing them over and over.

It is tempting, trust me, I know, to start with the bottom, as down there is the most dirty as a rule, but avoid the temptation. You will save yourself a lot of work. The same goes for the door shelves, top down. By the time you are done with all that, take a break, and let the freezer totally thaw out.

Once you are done with your break and feel a bit more rested, the freezer should be ready to clean out. Again, top, down. Once done with that, turn the thing back on and close the doors. Take a break again, as reaching up to the freezer just cost you some energy points, as you had to stand and lean in to do it. If needed stand on a small stool or ladder to get in there, it will make it easier on you. If you feel the need, this is also the time to clean off the top of the fridge, which is often ignored.

Now, once you feel rested, we can go back and deal with the shelves and drawers, that have been soaking all this time. If you have a hand held shower head ( and you should have one, if you have FM ) use it, as by now ... a quick wipe and rinse, should be about all they need. Ditto the tub when you have all the parts out.

Then just put them all back in and you can start re-loading the food, starting with freezer food first, which is easy, as it's right on top of the ice chest and your not having to dig for them. Ya see there is a method to my madness :) Any ice you put in there, toss it, as it's now contaminated. It is also a good time to clean the ice cube trays.


Washing the car: 

Now this a task done, preferably by machines, (as hand washing is entirely out of the question) but failing running the whole thing through an automated machine ( which is costly )  at the very least, this task should be done at your local car wash, with hand wands. 

There are two major challenges to handling the car washing wands. For one, controlling them. ( And it is not just us who has this issue, as I am sure you have seen otherwise healthy people, lose control of them. So do not feel bad if you turn it on and spray the ceiling or take a bath with it :) 

They are under high pressure and news, the one handed hold and sweep is just not going to cut it. Yeah yeah, that's how we are used to doing it, but trying to do so now is just asking for hand, arm, shoulder and back pain. A clean car is just not worth that. 

So use both hands to control the wand. One on the grip and one on the wand itself, often works best. Work slowly and again, I know, the coin meter is running, but it doesn't help a whole lot if you end up panting for breath when you are done ? As now, what energy do you have left to vacuum and dry the thing ? Is it worth the money your saving ?

Drying the car:

Do not get carried away with this, the object here, is to get rid of the major water drops, so your car does not have spots all over it, when it drys. If you have an older car and the shiny finish went bye bye a long time ago and you really do not care if it has a few water spots? Then just do the windows. But if you have a nice shiny car that will show every drop of water you leave on it, you will likely want to dry it.

The easiest way, is to take a fairly large towel or shammie and literally slap it on, starting at the inner edge of say the hood, then grab the towel and drag it all the way down to the outside edge, letting it keep contact with the surface, the entire time. Side of the car ? Same move, drape the towel down the side and then pull it as you go. Wring out as needed, gently if you please. It does not need to be dry, just not dripping wet. ( some car wash places still have hand operated wringers, if they do, make use of them )

The more typical, wad it up and do the round and round move ... is not only tiring, it is not very effective. You are only letting a very small part of the towel reach the car to dry it ... so the flat out and pull or drag, is not only easier, it's faster and more effective. For the windows, you might want to invest in a cheap wiper blade, similar to what you see in most gas stations to wash your windows and use it in the same fashion to dry them off. 

Vacuuming the car:

The last and in many ways more difficult challenge, is vacuuming out the interior. This act requires the flexibility of a gymnast, stooping, bending etc. Now, we tend to get in a rush to do this, as the vacuum only stays on for a very short time. While again it is more costly, a suggestion, slow down and work on one side at a time. Then rest a moment ... then put in more money and do the other side. I know this costs more, but which makes more sense, pay a $1.50 VS .75 cents, or go down for today, tomorrow and maybe the rest of the week, in more pain ? I think the choice is obvious. If you can afford it, buy a canister vac to use at home for this task and take all the time you need to do it.

In between car washes, invest in a "floppy" brush, that dusts off the car. The reason for the handled brush is, unlike a rag or sponge, you are not putting any pressure on the surface so you can brush off the dust without scratching the paint or the windows. It only takes a few moments to "dust" the car, but this act will prevent the morning dew fall, from making that dust into caked on dirt that you have to scrub off later. Ditto goes for investing in a small scraper, to take off bird droppings, road tar and the like. 

Now, we all like to have a nice smelling car, but I do NOT suggest you use any of the sprays you will find at the car wash. They are major chemicals and will just make the inside of the car, toxic for most of us FMers. A better solution is some simple air fresheners, natural ones if you can find them, put under the seat for example and or, if you have fabric seat covers, a fast shot of something like Fabreeze can do wonders. If you do this, let the car air out and the seats dry before you get in it. So this is something best done when you get home and can leave the car. 

Waxing the car:

Now this is one, best hired out or have another family member do it, if at all possible. Given the clear coat on most current day cars, it's not that much of a need in any case, but if you feel you really must wax it, do yourself a favor and delegate this one. The price in pain would not be worth doing it yourself, ditto for rubbing compound and other such treatments.


Cleaning the oven:

Now, this task is a challenge, for a variety of reasons. The body positions required to do the task at all and the major chemicals typically used are toxic to anyone, but they are especially so, for us. Not to mention most commercial cleaners are well known to be hard to wipe totally off and can get into your food when you cook with it next. Nasty thought isn't it ? However, there is a solution to that problem, natural oven cleaners. Now you can buy ready made natural cleaners, but they tend to be costly, however, you can make them yourself, for almost nothing. Simple oven cleaners

There are other recipes, just plug in "natural oven cleaners", into any search engine and you will find a variety of them, the link above has several good ones, but they are all pretty much, baking soda or salt, some kind of acid, like lemon juice or vinegar and some sort of soap. Now, as you might guess this will take time to work, but are you in that much of a hurry ? 

Using these natural cleaners, might even take overnight if your oven is really dirty, so be sure to clean the oven at a time when you will not be needing it anytime soon. Not to mention, every natural recipe out there, requires a cold oven, not a hot one. 

( A word of warning, some recipes call for bleach, others for vinegar, lemon juice or ammonia. DO NOT mix bleach with any recipe that calls for ammonia, as the gas that will result, is literally poisonous. Follow the recipe. )

The trick to cleaning out the oven with the least strain possible, is get on the floor as close to the oven opening as possible. Which will put you at the corner of the door, rather than trying to reach over the door and into the oven, to spread out the paste you will make of the most common recipes you will find out there. Let's face it, most of us do not have arms that are that long. 

In the typical posture, we wind up on our knees leaning over the end of the door, like we are trying to climb in it. This is a recipe for pain, so work from the sides, where the door is not an issue and not in your way. For the racks, just take them out and treat them, then put them back in the oven, once the body of the oven covered to let the cleaning solution, work.

If needed, move to the other side corner, to cover the entire surface, don't over extend your arm. Move the body instead. Using a small brush is helpful to spread it out, and do wear gloves, as the acids might be natural, but they will get to your hands after a while. Again, just like with cleaning the refrigerator, start from the top and work your way down. 

For the very top, do NOT lean your head in and look. You know how wide the brush or sponge is, you know how large the oven top is, why do you need to see it with your eyes ? Answer, you really do not need to see it, other than maybe one fast look or two, to make sure you did not miss any major sections. 

Sitting there with your head, back and shoulders cranked at odd angles, is a promise of pain, during and long after you are done. So, don't do this to yourself. If you have an electric oven and are concerned for the elements, remember that the stuff you are using is not toxic, so it really will not matter if you get some of the mix on the elements. Just wipe them off too, when you go to wipe it all down later. 

( Besides, they often need to be cleaned off as well ) Just take care near the back of the oven, where the elements connect. ( In some ovens, these elements are easy to remove, as in they pop in and out, if yours is one of these, then just take them out and get them out of your way, entirely ) 

Later, after the cleaners have done their work, do the same thing, wipe down the top of the oven, blind. You do not need to look at it over once or twice, not even for the element if you happen to have an electric stove, let your hands do the looking.

The sides come next, both sides, then finally the bottom and the last being the door. Take a Brillo pad to any stubborn spots and your done. Take care when you go to stand up after treating it or wiping it down, as your legs will want to protest your being down on the floor. Grab the stove top and the counter, and get your feet under you, then rise, or better yet, get someone to help you up.