Fibromyalgia and Handling day to day tasks
With as little stress and strain as possible
Part two
Home The Fictions Articles The Facts Life Stories Poems etc. Herbs etc. Links
Please note that most links presented, are off site links, save where noted.

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 using them, you do so at your own risk.

Doing the dishes: 

Now this one, is a pain for even non FMers, as again, the over all size of the counter top was made with a mans height in mind. This forces most women into a very ackward position when bending over them. ( washing machines have much the same problem ) To ease back strain, a small lift to stand on, just an inch or two, can make a major difference on how it feels to lean over the sink, depending on your height. A simple trick, before you wash the dishes, go put your shoes on.

Now, the simplest trick to avoid having to work so hard at this task is, as you use the dishs, stop and rinse them off before you put them in the sink. Use your scrubby to get any stuck on food, as all you want left on the dishes is whatever grease might be left behind. Pre-treat them in effect, much like you would for putting them in your average dishwasher. 

For pots and pans, put a small amount of dish soap in them and fill them to the brim with hot water and let it sit. Toss any silverware and the like in this hot soapy bath. Now, what this does, is pre-soaks the dishes. Do not be in a rush to wash them. 

With them soaking like this, they can sit for literally hours if need be. ( And disregard any voice in the back of your head about being lazy, which most of us heard in childhood, when doing such a move ) You have just expended a lot of energy to cook the food, and having eaten, often have digestion issues going on, so now is NOT the time to add even more labor to a body that is already tired. They will keep.

Then, when it's time to wash them dump out all the soaking water and wash as usual and you will find that cleaning them is a lot easier. A hint: Wipe down all the fixtures when you are done, so they are dry. The reason for this is that standing water collects dust and food particles, which will mean having to scrub them later. If you wipe them dry once you are done, this will eliminate a lot of scrubbing later on. ( This idea also works on bathroom fixtures )


Vacuuming the rug: 

Now this household task can be a pain, literally. Steps to minimize the strain. For one, if you have an older heavy machine, you might want to consider replacing it with a newer, lighter version if at all possible, preferably with a no bag system. Concentrate on the high traffic areas. The far edges and such do need to be cleaned, but not as often as the places where you walk the most. So for a general clean up, stick to the traffic areas and never mind moving the furniture that much. The same goes for doing the sofa, the drapes, etc. You need to do those once in a while yes, but not every time you clean the floor.

A hint:

To keep from tripping or being forced to bend over: Place the cord for the vacuum over your shoulder, so that it trails out behind you, the reason for this, is to control where the cord is, at all times. Otherwise, what tends to happen, is it either gets in the way of the area you want to clean forcing you to ether bend down and move it, or yank your shoulder and back out, as you try and whip it out of the way, and or trips us up, as we are not sure where it is on the floor behind us. 

Pull, don't push: 

By that I mean, by their very nature, modern vacuum tends to work their best on the "return" move, drawing it back to you, which is a lot easier than pushing it forward. 

Use both hands: 

We tend to do it as we always did before FM, one handed ( the other hand was often holding the cord, which is where we got into that habit ) with the cord already in check over your shoulder, you can use both hands, especially for the push phase.

Slow down: 

We tend to try and move too fast, this is counterproductive, for several reasons. For one, the faster you do a repetitive act, the harder it is on the mucles and joints. We can wear ourselves out in short order and for another, no matter how powerful the vacuum, they cannot do a good cleaning job, at the speeds most of us try and shove them around. We are not giving them enough time to suck up the dirt. So going slower, not only helps avoid body stress on you, you wind up with a cleaner floor.

Wear ear plugs: 

Oddly enough, vacuums do not really need to make noise to work, but the makers of such things tried to market a "silent" vacuum and it failed miserably as people equate power, with how much noise it makes. So they put the "power" noise, back in. You will find the task much less stressful, if you block out this onslaught of noise with ear plugs. Another way is to put on an ear clamp headset and listen to music instead.

Wear a mask:

If you are one of those who is hypersensitive to dust, ( which is most of us ) wear a mask over your face to keep from breathing in the dust your stirring up. The same goes for glasses if you have, as many of us do, dry eyes. If your eyes are already dry, getting them full of fine dust is NOT going to help matters any.  

Wear glasses even if you do not "need" them to see, as you can get them with just plain glass in them. Or even wear the mask type goggles. Even light sun glasses can help. Never mind the feeling, that you look like you just dropped in from Mars in this get up, if it saves you one moment of pain and discomfort, do you really care what it looks like ? Full face shields, like you see often used in dentists offices, can be purchased at many medical supply stores for this purpose, which are very comfortable.

Cleaning out the bag or dust cup: 

This one will get to just about anyone, as it's a heavy amount of flying dirt in your face when you go to dump it out.

How to minimize the dust:

For vacuums with bags, before taking it off of the machine: Step one: leave your dust mask or face shield on. Two: have a trash bag ready and as soon as you pull the bag off, in the trash bag it goes. DO NOT try and fold it up or roll it, to make it smaller, as you will just puff dust in the air, use a full sized 13 gallon bag for this, as the less you handle it, the better. Now, for dust cups, do a very similar thing. Get a trash bag large enough to put your hand in, while holding the dust cup. Once you put the cup inside, use your other hand to close off the top of the bag around your own wrist,.

Then inside the bag, empty the dust cup and slowly take out your hand and the now empty dust cup. Be ready to clamp the bag closed with your other hand, as soon as your hand that has the cup in it, is free. Then tie that bag shut. Once you have tossed the bag away, go and wash your hands, face, glasses etc. If you are very hypersensitive, go take a shower, to get rid of any dust riding on your hair, body etc. If your using a re-usable mask, wash it at the same time. If useing a disposable type, toss it immediately.


Cleaning the bathroom:

Now this area can be a hard one, but it can be made easier. The trick to know is this, most commercial cleaners, are made weak, on purpose. This is to prevent people from hurting themselves with strong chemicals. So, to make them really do their jobs, they have to sit on the surface a while. ( You can use less strong cleaners, such as vinegar for many cleaning jobs, but you will have to wait longer. ) 

Keep this fact in mind for anything your cleaning ... Let it sit, needs to become your motto. Just be sure it does not dry before you come back to it, or you will have a soap scum problem, along with the dirt. Set a timer if needed to remind yourself to go back to finish the job. ( if you do happen to time it wrong, just spray it again, re-wetting the surface and let it sit a moment, before you try to scrub )

Example: Spray the tiles, and leave the spray on for at least 15 minutes, to a half an hour, ditto the toilet bowl. Leave the room, as the fumes will get to you. If your bath has a fan, turn it on as you leave. Come back later to clean. 

Another hint: 

Have a sponge mop, or other long handled tool, just for the bathroom walls, this allows you to stand back and put your full weight on the handle to clean the walls ( and you do not have to get in the tub, which is now slippery with soap, and risk falling ). The same goes for the tub and for the toilet, use a longer handled tool ( they make long handled tools for this now, available in most stores, but failing that, make your own by putting whatever rag or sponge you are using to clean it, on its own stick with string. Paint stirrers or an old toilet brush and the like, work well as extensions ) 

Once you are done scubbing, if you have a hand held shower, grab that and rinse the tub enclosure down. ( If you do not have one, you should have, as it makes showering easier on you )  but if you lack one, go in the kitchen and get a plastic pitcher and fill it 3/4's of way and use it to splash the walls and tub. ( Don't worry if you get some water on the floor, as you will be cleaning that shortly ) 

A note on the toilet: 

One way to keep the bowl from becoming such a chore, is to regularly wipe it down. A simple way to do this, is to take a wad of toilet paper or facial tissue, get it damp ( or baby wipes ) and run it around the most common areas that need cleaning ( under the seat, behind the seat, the tank lid, the front of the bowl, etc. ) 

What this does, is it helps you avoid the dreaded, having to break out a scrub brush and abrasive cleaner, to get "stuck" on dirt. Just drop the tissue or wipe, into the toilet when your done and flush it away. 

Recall, as in the kitchen and their fixtures, any left over moisture, or particles collect dust and hair to themselves and become, instead of one or two layers of grime, are many layers instead, which are much harder to clean off. Doing this "trick" frequently, helps prevents this build up from happening in the frist place.

The floor: 

Most bathrooms, have very small floors, so another trick: First, take a lightly damp small hand towel ( an old one ) and with your foot, ( holding on to something as you do this like the counter top or wall ) and run it around the floor to get the hair and other loose debris. Then, using a hand held sprayer, spray the floor with cleaner .... again, go away and let the solution soak. When you come back, take another towel, a damper one this time and do the same foot dance around the room. ( This can also work in the kitchen if you have a small kitchen floor ) 

If the towel is large enough, you can use both feet, literally walking your way around the room, shuffling your feet. If needed, rinse the floor in the same way. Wash out these towels and keep them handy for next time, and or, have serveral sets, so you can just drape the ones you just used over the shower bar and let them dry and just toss them into the wash, to be cleaned along with the other really "dirty" things.


Making the bed: 

This can nearly be killer, due to the amount of bending and stooping we have to do, so to minimize this: Do the hardest corners first, meaning generally, the ones nearest the wall or headboard. A hint: Literally lay on the bed and shoving the sheet ahead of you, get over to the corners, and using both hands, loop it down on the corners. Then you can either stand or better yet, get down on the floor, to get the bottom corners of the bed. ( You can even do it laying down, if you can get yourself turned around on the bed )

To put the top sheet on, almost requires that you stand but, you can do it easier with pratice, from a chair, if the flip of the whole sheet standard move, is a no go. What you do, is do half the bed, then move around to the other side and do that. If you have a chair with wheels, all the better. Wheel your way around the bed. Do the same with the blankets.

Putting on the pillow cases: Now this can be a fight, with standard cases. And I have no tips on how to make that easier, save one. Make your own pillow cases. By that I mean, get some flat sheets, measure your pillows, add at least 3 inchs to the size all the way around, and then sew them up. What you end up with, is a pillow case that you can just slide the pillow in, with no fight and no strain. ( this is especially true if you use, as I do, the over sized pillows. As they never seem to make a pillow case to fit them properly )

More everyday actions on page three