Personal Story: Penelope Mc

Freedom through a footstool.

P/C Advocacy footstool
Redefining Healthy Ageing Together, SAHMRI, 9 April 2019 Photo: Xiaolin Xu
L-R: Ian Gladstone, Graham Aitken, Penelope McMillan, Judy Smith, Jane Mussared

I spend most of my life in bed. I don’t prepare meals. I don’t clean my house. My garden looks after itself. I shower maybe once a week and only clean my teeth before going out.

From my bed, with a lightweight laptop perched on my chest and a phone resting on my shoulder, I engage in a variety of advocacy activities for ME/CFS, disability, carers, chronic illness, ageing.

This works just fine, until there is a meeting or event that requires me to attend in person. My vertigo was so severe at one meeting, that I fell off the chair! I spent the meeting lying on the floor, but that’s not ideal.

When I am sitting up with my feet on the floor, I simply cannot think. My body doesn’t cope, and that includes my brain. But if my feet are raised level with my hips, I can function OK for an hour, or on a good day, maybe two hours.

Discovering a cheap, lightweight, folding footstool with a shoulder strap has been liberating. The footstool keeps my feet up and my brain working. This simple fix has reduced the disabling impact of my orthostatic intolerance, by allowing me to sit in a chair and participate in the community beyond my bed.

Last edited: 17 December, 2020