My Hands #SoCS

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) is “body parts”. I could of course write about how I’m scared for my abdominal X-ray this coming Tuesday and share all the details about my tummy ailments, but I’m not going to. After all, Lindda has asked us to warn our fellow SoCS participants if a post is NSFW and I generally don’t write that type of posts on my blog anyway. So, I’m going with another body part: my hands.

After all, what’s been worrying me most is that my abdominal complaints will be something serious, like cancer or the like. And if they’re cancer, that I’ll die. Or need to go on chemo. And if I’d need to go on chemo, I’d lose my nails. Not that I mind my nails that much in the sense that I like to polish them or whatever. I bite them like crazy, in fact. But I’d like to keep the function of my fingers please. So, with those scary thoughts out of the way (I hope writing them down doesn’t make them come true), I’m going to write about why I appreciate my hands.

Some staff say I have piano fingers. I can’t play the piano to save my life, but what they mean is that my fingers are relatively long and thin. I like that. They allow me to type on my laptop keyboard with relative ease. I used to make a lot of typeos. Not anymore. I don’t know why.

My fingers also allow me to read Braille. I don’t read traditional Braille books or paper anymore, but I do read a lot on my Braille display. If I lost my nails, I’m pretty sure I’d no longer be able to read braille, because, well, even if I could still feel the Braille dots with my fingertips (assuming they wouldn’t need to be covered in band aids or something), I guess my Braille display wouldn’t like all the stuff coming from my exposed nailbeds. Oh, is that NSFW?

Besides my fingers, my hands allow me to touch all kinds of textures. I love my large collection of stuffed animals, all with their different feels to their fur. I also love my two fleece blankets, one I got in my Christmas package from my old day center and one the day activities group with the sensory room bought for me so I had my own blanket to cover myself when going into it.

One exercise I used to do when trying to stay present when I’d often dissociate (not that I don’t dissociate anymore, but I find it harder to do the exercise), is to touch various objects in my surroundings and describe them as objectively as I can. Then, after I’ve named some characteristics of the object, I name the object itself.

My hands allow me to hold onto my white cane and onto someone’s arm when walking. I might find a way to walk sighted guide if I lost my hand function, but I still appreciate my hands for what they do for me now.

What do you like about your hands?

Creating a Sensory Room Experience in My Own Bedroom

It’s been a year since the day center closed. For the most part, it was a good thing for me. I, after all, was often overwhelmed in my day activities group. One thing I miss about the day center though, is the sensory or snoezelen® room. Today, I am sharing how I recreated a sensory room experience in my own bedroom. Since I am blind, I skipped the visual aspect mostly, but I’ll add some ideas for it regardless. That way, you can create a sensory environment for yourself.

Sound

In the day center sensory room, we have a really cool speaker system that’s attached to the bed. It isn’t likely that advanced, so with some speakers at the right position, you may be able to recreate it. I don’t own wireless speakers. However, I found that I can recreate similar effects with earbuds or headphones. I would recommend earbuds for better positioning, but since I don’t have wireless ones, I use my wireless headphones anyway.

I mentioned before that I use an app called MyNoise. This app has over 120 soundscapes and you can customize each individual sound to your own hearing. There are nature soundscapes, but also white noise, Buddhist-like and SciFi soundscapes. I prefer the nature ones.

Like I said, I don’t own wireless speakers, though I might want to invest in some at some point. My phone or computer speakers work okay when listening to music though. There are many calming playlists on Spotify and undoubtedly other music apps too. The ones I love most are Harp Music for Sleeping, Peaceful Guitar and Peaceful Piano. There are also a number of nature sound playlists.

I at one point wanted a music pillow. I may still buy one at some point, but I haven’t yet found one that’s big enough to be used as a sleeping pillow and also works with Bluetooth.

Smell

One thing that my bedroom has and the snoezelen® room didn’t, is an aromatherapy diffuser. I have posted many times about my love for it. Mine cost €40, but they start at as cheap as €15. Essential oils can be a bit expensive depending on the quality you choose. I am obsessed with creating my own blends, so I really like to have a large collection of essential oils. However, if all you want is a nice smell, fragrance oils are also great.

Touch

In the day center sensory room, we had a specially designed waterbed. That felt good, but my own bed is also a pretty good substitute. I usually turn up the head side of the bed slightly.

A thing that’s a true blessing for my senses though, is my weighted blanket. These come in different forms. Some are filled with plastic balls. Mine is filled with sachets filled with granules. It’s a rather expensive blanket at over €500. Thankfully though, my care facility paid for it. With the company we used, you can borrow the blanket on a try-out basis for two weeks for just postage. That helped me make sure it was the right one for me. Mine weighs 12kg, which is relatively heavy considering my body weight of 70kg, but I actually love it this way.

I put a flannel duvet cover over my weighted blanket in winter. When it’s really cold or I need some extra softness for sensory reasons, I use a fleece blanket too.

In addition, I have various soft toys. My favorite is an ordinary stuffed bear. However, I also have a 1.60m large stuffed bear that I got from my mother-in-law for my birthday last year. This one was probably quite expensive. Another of my favorite soft toys, is my sensory cat. This stuffed cat can be microwaved and then gives off heat and a lavender scent.

Sight

Like I said, I am blind with the exception of a tiny bit of light perception. I for this reason don’t benefit from visual stimuli. That being said, I do know a bit about making your room visually appealing to the senses.

My essential oil diffuser works as a night light too. It can be set to seven different colors and I believe also two intensity levels.

Of course, you may want to use your sensory room experience for more than just sleeping. I’m pretty sure in my care home’s makeshift sensory room, the staff put up some form of Christmas lights for the visual effect.

In addition, there are many different visual projection systems. My care facility owns the Qwiek.

Conclusion

I really love my makeshift sensory room in my own bedroom. Generally speaking, creating a true sensory room requires a lot of money. I am so glad though that I could buy some equipment myself or ask for it as a gift. That way, I was able to skip the unnecessary for me expensive things and find things I truly would use. I am very glad that my facility paid for the weighted blanket.

loopyloulaura