Sep 072010

A small yellow hook with two quarters next to it.

My first DIY assistive device cost 50 cents.

Every good story needs a hook, and this is mine. It is a symbol of my strategy for coping with physical limits: take advantage of every tool available and if there isn’t one you like (or can afford) make one. IBM (Inclusion Body Myositis) attacks different muscle groups in different orders for each individual. For me, the fingers were affected early on. Drawers, car doors, even cartons of soft drinks became more and more frustrating to deal with. But even though my fingertips were useless, there was still some strength where the fingers joined the palm. My solution: a plant hook, a four inch length of wooden dowel and a little electrical tape. Total cost – less than fifty cents. Being able to open the produce drawer of our refrigerator – priceless. I have constructed dozens of these little tools. I have them lying around in every room of the house, plus the van, and one is in my belly bag. My support group made hundreds of them and sold them as a fund raiser at the national convention of The Myositis Association.

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