A Day In The Life Of Tasha Schuh
As I travel and speak, many people have asked me about what my daily life is like. They wonder how I get ready and what I do when I am not speaking. Because of those questions, I was inspired to write and give a little glimpse into what my caregivers do for me and what my daily routine is. Prior to my accident I was very curious about those who had disabilities and were in wheelchairs, so I thought I would be as open as possible to answer the questions that people have.
Every morning I have two caregivers that come to my home to help me start my day. When they arrive they begin with putting on my compression socks, emptying my bladder, and getting me dressed (in the summer this takes 10 minutes and in the winter it takes 20). I have them stretch my legs so they stay limber and flexible (my legs would definitely atrophy and not be able to straighten out if I did not do them). These stretches take about 8 minutes. Then my caregivers transfer me into my wheelchair by using a sliding board (Because I am so tall, I use 2 people to do this transfer that I learned when I was in the hospital). Once I’m in my wheelchair they have to strategically go through my clothes to make sure there are no wrinkles in my clothing. They then straighten out my hips, pull my backside as far back into the seat cushion as it can go, double check that my shoes are on correctly, and finally adjust my back into the custom backrest. All of this prep work ensures that not only am I comfortable in my chair all day long, but also that my skin will stay healthy (It’s amazing the discomfort and possible skin problems that could result from one little wrinkle, especially given that fact that I am in the same position for 14 hours). Once I am in my wheelchair, I move to the bathroom with my caregivers and begin getting ready for the day. One caregiver will do my hair, and the other will load my makeup brushes for me to do my makeup. Thankfully this process only takes about 20 minutes :-) After my makeup and hair are all done one of the caregivers will put my contacts in my eyes (I can take them out at night myself). I then eat breakfast with the help of a caregiver preparing it, and finish up the routine for the morning with little things like brushing my teeth and taking my pills. This entire regimen of getting ready in the morning takes me about 1.5 hours. In addition to making sure I’m ready for the day, my caregivers also do other odd and ends: play with the cats, make the bed, wash dishes, prepare lunch if Doug is going to be gone, etc. Once they leave around 9 AM, I am quite independent and able to be on my own until bedtime if necessary.
After the morning preparation is complete, I take about an hour to read, pray, and get myself in a mindset that is prepared for the rest of the day. It is also here that I decide no matter what happens, I’m going to be grateful and handle it with a good attitude, knowing that tomorrow is not guaranteed so I’ll make the most of today. I never like to start my work time without doing this – I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t. Even if you are not one that believes in prayer, it’s definitely important to take time to get into the mindset of positivity. When I did not do this, everything bothered me. I would get stressed out and overwhelmed by every little thing that didn’t go my way. By doing this, I have already made up my mind that nothing is going to take me down; and let me tell you, it helps a lot!
Once I feel set for the day, I head into my office to begin work. Unless I have pressing matters to attend to right away (appointments, scheduled phone calls, etc.), I start with checking email and responding to those that need immediate attention. I usually have a list of things that I need to do for that day, so basically I just follow that. People often ask what I do when I’m not speaking. Crazy enough, I do not give the exact same talk every single time. Engagements usually take hours of preparation, including research and personalizing it for the company, school, or conference that I am speaking to. I then take the time to memorize it so that I can deliver it truly from my heart. So when I do have an engagement on the horizon that takes up a good chunk of my work day. What many people do not realize is that outside of speaking there are a plethora of other things that I have to keep up on. Besides the many emails that I receive each day, I am writing blogs, responding to social media, organizing my caregivers schedules, adding new material to my messages, having conference calls with event planners, practicing singing so that my voice stays strong, sending cards to past and future clients, updating our website, helping and mentoring others that have had recent spinal cord injuries, and many other things. Both Doug and I have structured business hours of at least 6 hours a day. Since a speaking engagement often encompasses an entire day – if not multiple days when long distance travel is included – we usually have a lot to catch up on when we get home.
One day a week I have a caregiver come in for lunch; this lasts an hour. Besides preparing my lunch and doing some of my personal cares, they help me with organizing my office, putting away laundry, and other things that I need done. Doug helps me with lunch the other days, and I do my personal cares myself.
Once the workday is finished, Doug and I have supper and spend time together. We usually either read, watch a movie, play a game, or just spend time talking. Every evening around 8:30 or 9 PM my caregivers return to help me get ready for bed. Three out of the seven nights I shower, so those take longer, generally about two hours and fifteen minutes. The other four nights are about an hour. Those longer nights I have two caregivers come in, whereas the shorter nights I only need one. In order to transfer into bed at night, my caregivers use a Hoyer lift. This helps me to transfer safely and protects my skin. I also use my lift to transfer into my shower chair. Thankfully, I sleep really well and don’t generally wake up much during the night, but I’m one that definitely needs eight solid hours. Generally it is lights out by 11 PM or 11:30 PM, as Doug gets up a little before 6 AM to begin his day; I sleep until 7:00 AM. I hope this has been helpful in shedding some light on a normal day in the life of Tasha!