​Circulation and Personal Care

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on November 12, 2021 # Lifestyle

Zack's shoes that help with circulationHow many of you who are paralyzed deal with swollen ankles and feet by the end of the day from sitting in a wheelchair. My son is a C-4 Quadriplegic from a beach injury in 2010. I am his full-time caregiver, and this is something we have dealt with for over a decade. After a night’s sleep with legs elevated, we notice that his legs, ankles and feet are back to normal size by morning. If you’re lucky and have a reclining wheelchair, then that is a great option throughout the day to elevate feet above the heart if possible.

We have asked around getting ideas and tips from others. A lot of people have mentioned compression socks for circulation. I have used compression support stockings for plane flights, and they do seem to help. For Zack, they were hard to use because he has a urine leg bag attached to the side of his calf. We buy a size bigger shoe so that when feet swell, it does not put extra pressure. We have found that this has worked well. Zack found a wonderful shoe called Kizik the heal is very strong and higher up, so it literally just slips on very easily! We keep the shoes tied real lightly, and once tied no need to tie them each time. It’s the small things that can really save time. I remember having regular shoes and having to loosen the ties all the time as his feet swelled throughout the day. Another Big-time saver for me is I have ALL Zack’s personal care products in one easy to get to the basket.

In the first basket is lotion, deodorant, water bottle, hair products, face cream, cologne, face shaver and more. Then a second basket for his medical supplies, Organized basketsincluding bowel program supplies, gloves, suppositories, lubricant, leg and night bags, condom caths, body wash spray and wipes. We keep his wardrobe simple with classic interchangeable clothes. T-shirts, shorts and jeans. Nicer clothes are hung up in the closet with flannel shirts or jackets. Not having a huge selection helps us to stay organized.

I use those 7 days a week pill box holders for his medications and vitamins. I fill up 2-3 large refillable water bottles and set them out. That way, I’m filling up fewer bottles throughout the day, and Zack seems to drink more water that way. Staying hydrated is so important! These tips may seem obvious, but sometimes, we don’t think of things that can simplify our lives when busy. I can remember running around the house looking for things in different rooms and then having to put it all back. Now I have 2 easy-access baskets that hold all his stuff in one place.

I hope these tips help you. Since this injury is by no means an easy one and is long-term, finding solutions that can make your daily life less stressful is a wonderful thing. Remember to go outside daily if possible if not, open the windows and get fresh air. Zack likes to read outside and sit in the sun (even for 5 minutes gives your body needed vitamin D). Reading for fun has become a regular thing for both Zack and me. I’ve always read self-improvement-type books and Zack mostly college textbooks. We love to visit the local library. I love books on audio; I listen in my car while driving on errands makes my day much more interesting.

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.