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I want a good way to clear snow off my car and the surrounding pavement without hurting myself.

1. I have considered the traditional strategy of waiting for spring, or at least for the kind of good thaw we see every week or so around here. But these days I have a babysitting job one or two afternoons a week. It's not a big deal for me to walk the 1.5 miles from the child's preschool to her home, but it would be a very big deal for her. I'm fairly confident those short legs could NOT do it in significant snow. So that strategy is out.

1a. The people who own my apartment building recently sent out flyers announcing that all tenants must remove their cars from the parking lot when it snows, so they can have the lot plowed. Insofar as they want the cars to be safe from snowplows, I understand...but if it's snowing and the plows have not been out, moving my car is difficult and painful and scary, and I don't wanna.

2. If I lived in a house with a driveway, I would hire somebody to shovel the driveway and clear the snow off my car. I don't have a driveway. My building has a parking lot with 40 places. The lot gets plowed, and the walkways get shoveled, but I'm responsible for clearing the snow and ice off my own car. Is it possible to hire somebody just to do that?

3. I've done some shoveling in emergency situations, since the hand pain got really bad. Most shoveling jobs are so big, so difficult, so brutally painful, that it's really pretty easy for me to make the decision about doing it. No. Don't do it. Not unless it would save a life. (In practice, I am pretty easy to manipulate when people I love need help getting to hospitals or staying out of prison. And I do any number of things I probably shouldn't, when I think it will help me keep my job.) It's still relatively easy to see I should not be shoveling, that spending the extra money for this apartment with the plowed lot was a good idea.

4. Clearing snow off the car itself is not as painful as shoveling snow from the ground.* There's less snow involved, and a person doesn't have to lift it. When the snow is very light, I clear a lot of it by hand (well, with my big waterproof mitten), so I don't have to grip anything. I can't reach nearly as close to the middle of the Boat of Gold as I could with the little blue car. So there is a lot more gripping of tools (hand strain) and reaching up and across (shoulder strain). There is some pain when I'm doing it, and more pain afterwards...probably aggravated by the fact that I clear the snow off the car and then get right in the car and go for a stressful drive on snowy roads.

5. I took the car to the new occupational therapist (who seems not to be a complete idiot), and asked her advice about clearing snow off it with minimal pain and damage. She recommended using a stepstool to reach the top of the car without raising my arm above shoulder height, adjusting my grip on the tools to keep my wrists in line with my arms, and moving snow in small increments. I hope this will help. I haven't tried it yet. It seems like it would make the job take much longer, and I don't know the relative value of "fewer movements straining the joint" vs "each movement putting less strain on the joint."

6. I selected my snow-clearing tools for their light weight, and for being able to move snow from the center of my little blue car without my needing to apply much lateral force. I did NOT go looking for handles that would make it easy to keep one's wrists in line with one's arms.
My current favorite snow-clearing tool is a red plastic toy snow shovel that looks just like the one I had when I was 6, right down to the little triangular handle.
If I'm not wearing gloves or mittens, I can (just barely) fit my fingers into the triangle of the handle. This lets me hold the shovel more or less horizontal, to push snow off the hood or trunk, using my fingers and palms, without engaging my bad thumb or twisting either wrist sideways. All as the OT advised, except that spending an hour or two with bare hands in the snow would probably counter any positive effects. In practice, I usually end up grabbing the stick part.
My brush/scraper thingee looks approximately like this:
Only it doesn't extend. It's about 30" long, with a foam-padded straight handle. The OT watched me hold it in one hand, and both, reaching over the car. She pointed out how I was twisting my wrists, and I experimented with various grips. The least bad seems to be with both thumbs up, and thumbs aligned with the handle...but that's not *good*. It's just hard for me to keep a good grip and maintain control of a linear tool, especially if it's long.

7. Can any of you recommend implements for clearing snow off a car that have some kind of crosspiece on the handle, making it easier to push and pull? Overall lightness is still useful. With this car, I think a long handle, or an extensible handle, would be good.

*Because clearing off the car is so much less painful than shoveling, it's actually more difficult to decide whether I should be doing it. When. How much. It hurts a lot. I can push through the pain, but there is a substantial physical cost I have to pay for days (sometimes weeks.) The work needs to be done--not in the sense of saving a life, but in the more usual way of work needing to be done.


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March 2016



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