I look strong. I was taller than most boys my age till high school. All those years when PE was compulsory at school I found myself on all kinds of teams. I looked like I could play baseball, football, basketball, volleyball… In fact, the only sports I was good at were reading and drawing.
I also have weak wrists, a fact I discovered when I decided to try tennis. When hitting a tennis ball coming at me at speeds of anything over 0.5klm p/h would meet my racket and flip my wrist no matter how hard I tried to hold it steady. Turned out badminton was a much better fit. I can actually hit a shuttlecock!
When you’re blessed with no upper body strength and weak wrists you learn to do all kinds of things on your own using your brain instead of your (non-existent) muscles.
What am I talking about? Well, I lived alone for most of my life. And I always moved furniture, ripped up carpet, redid floors and ‘adjusted’ things on my own. Sometimes I was lucky enough to have a helping hand around. Sometimes I could coerce someone into helping – bribing sometimes worked too – and the ‘I’m just a poor little girl’ act worked at other times, but most of the time there wasn’t another hand or two to help when needed.
Like at 10.30pm at night cause that’s when I decided that the bookcase had to move to another room and the built in wardrobe needed to go.
As such, I learned to tackle problems by thinking about them creatively…
You have to. Unless you have a helpful partner, friend, neighbour or big manly grooming customer who’s just come to pick up his dog… (Yes, I’ve done that… I’m not ashamed of myself.)
Among the things I learned are the obvious:
- bend low by bending your legs not your waist
- lift using the strength of your legs not your back
- hold heavy items close to your chest
- use cupped hands, not open hands
- always ask someone else to do it if they’re around
I also learned that there are ways to do things which might not be so obvious:
- when moving a large heavy piece of furniture, pushing from waist or shoulder height doesn’t work. It just tips over. You need to move it from a lower point. Get down on your butt and push it with your legs. Way easier.
- If you need to move it for any distance, walk it, don’t just push it. Walking is way easier than pushing. To quote Bill Murray in What About Bob? ‘baby steps’.
- Don’t be lazy. Take all the drawers out, empty cabinets. You’ll be glad you did.
- Put the drawers down in the order you plan to put them back on. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.
- Use rugs under heavy items when pushing on floorboards. You can thank me later.
- Use something slippery, like a tarp, under a heavy item when pushing on carpet.
- When taking down a tall heavy cupboard from above head height, its a good idea to have a soft couch behind you that you can land on when you fall and the cabinet comes down on top of you.
- Keep the phone handy in case you get crushed beneath something heavy.
- Get a decent moving trolley but be realistic about what you can move with it. Some things just won’t fit through doors.
Along that line, I’m sharing with you how I get stock feed from my car to the feed room. It used to be a job I left to Wayne, but when he’s been away (or recovering from surgery) I’ve had to do it myself. And now I work from home its fallen to me to do it all the time. I can barely lift an 18kg bag of dog food, let alone a 25kg bag of horse and pony pellets. And bags of chaff are BIG. And heavy.
So I had to figure out how to do it without killing myself.
One thing I worked out early on in the game is that if you have a canopy on the back of your ute (truck), you can’t reach things in the depth without climbing in. Which isn’t pretty. For this reason I keep a hoe in the back of the ute at all times. Reaching things is much easier with a hoe.
I also keep a small tarp in there. That way, when I buy stock feed all I need to do is spread it out and get the shop person to help me roll the chaff bags off the trolley into the back of the ute.
When I get home all I have to do is pull the tarp to bring the bags out to me, then roll them into my wheelbarrow one at a time.
See what I mean? There are always ways to use your brain when you don’t have muscles.
Of course, sometimes you just need muscles. In those situations I’m stuffed.