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  • Writer's pictureMeg O'Connell

Puppies Can Lead to Accommodations?

Updated: Apr 16, 2022

In our disability training we talk a lot about the fact that a disability (temporary or permanent) can happen at any time. It could be an illness, a fall, a car accident or other life event that impacts your mobility and independence. But not once in my 30 years in disability have, I talked about puppies as a cause of disability. Until now.

On March 5th, we adopted an 8-week-old puppy, Charlie. He is an adorable chocolate lab with green eyes. Anyone who has ever raised a puppy knows it is joyful and amazingly frustrating at the same time.

Charlie is a chocolate lab with green eyes. He is laying on a bluish carpet with an IceMule coozy on his paws
Charlie: A 3-month-old chocolate lab

On day 3 of having Charlie, I jumped up to grab him as he was peeing on the carpet and tripped. I went down extending my right arm to break my fall, and my arm twisted. I knew instantly it was broken. But when I stood up and my elbow was facing the wrong direction, I knew it was a significant break.

Arriving at the emergency room, I found I had broken my humerous in 3 places. I spent the night in the hospital as I waited for an assessment from the orthopedic surgeons. Surprisingly, I don’t need surgery, but I will be in a brace for 8-10 weeks, and then will need physical therapy. It is also important to note this is my dominant hand. This is a temporary issue, but my mobility and independence has been significantly impacted and I have had to rely on several assistive devices to aid me in my day-to-day activities – including self-care and work. Below are the top 5 items that have helped me over the past several weeks.

1. Dragon Naturally Speaking and Microsoft’s Dictate feature in word. Both are voice to text technology, and it saved me hours of typing with just one hand. I had assessment reports to write, emails, note taking etc. It made me much more efficient. I am using it to write this blog. It can get hung up if you talk too fast, and you have to remember to turn it off or it will pick up phone calls or other conversations.

2. Zoom Live Captions and transcripts – Thanks to the pandemic Zoom is here to stay. The captioning and transcript features provided me with detailed notes and action items from my meetings, so I didn’t have to worry about notetaking or asking someone else to assist. Be sure to let everyone on the call know you are capturing a transcript of the meeting. I had several folks ask for copies, so they had the notes too.

3. A Lift Chair - My brace and the pain of the brake presented real challenges with basic movement. In the early weeks, I needed help standing from a seated or laying down position. Looking ahead at 8-10 weeks and wanting to be more independent I bought a lift chair that allowed me to recline comfortably to support my arm and then raise me to a standing position. This was very valuable the first month, after doctor visits, and physical therapy that were painful and caused the need for additional support.

4. Rocking Knife – I love this because it is a universal design product. It isn’t made for someone with a disability but a person with one hand can use it. I wanted to be able to prepare and cut my food as much as possible, and this knife enabled me to do so.

5. Personal Care Assistant - family members often get thrust into this role after an illness or injury. As soon as I fell my husband had a new role as caregiver. He needed to assist me with most daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and preparing meals. Additionally, he became a full-time puppy trainer as any puppy responsibilities were off limits to me. He also has a full-time job. So, he has had a lot to manage the past few weeks. The role of a caregiver is critical to recovery and daily living. I had my husband, but we also researched caregivers at care,com and found a list of incredibly qualified people that could assist with my needs.

Assistive devices have been critical for my day-to-day tasks and recovery. They are also easy to use and low cost. A few l will likely use post-recovery, like voice to text. I am grateful to have had them and am glad for both the technological advancements and the low-tech devices. If you ever need a resource for assistive technology devices visit the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

P.S. If you're wondering, we did keep Charlie and he is doing well. #RescueDogs #PuppiesAndAccommodations


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