Three weeks ago today I had shoulder surgery, which included shoulder repair and the “relocation” of my bicep on my right arm (which explains why I disappeared the last couple of weeks!) I am happy to say that this was an elective procedure to fix my shoulder after a nasty moving box incident that caused the damage almost 2 years ago. My hope is that the surgery will allow me to continue to pursue all my hobbies pain free in the future. So far the recovery is going well, but I still have three more weeks in a sling and a couple of months of physical therapy ahead of me. The reason I am bringing up my surgery (other than to share my cheesy selfie below!) is because it highlighted some of the limits of my tiny house.
This is my obligatory selfie right before they wheeled me back to start my surgery
I love my tiny house, but it wasn’t the perfect location for surgery recovery. The challenge with the shoulder repair I had is that I can’t use my right arm for six weeks. Right now I have limited mobility, which means I can’t lift my arm above my head and I have to wait 6 weeks to lift/move anything more than 5 pounds with my right arm. Obviously, this makes day-to-day life a little bit more complicated particularly in a small space, where most of my storage is above my head.
I am extremely lucky because my mom was able to come stay with me for surgery and for the 2 1/2 weeks until we went back to North Carolina to celebrate Christmas with my family. However, small spaces combined with a loft meant that staying in the tiny house wasn’t really an option for the two of us over the last few weeks.
The reason I am bringing this up, is because I want you to consider the design of your home carefully. Take into account any physical limitations you or your family members have that might impact the layout. I had never given much thought to how I would use my home if I was injured, but for the month leading up to surgery, I had to rearrange, move and adjust things in my house to allow for access. This included taking stuff out of my loft, moving things around in my closet and generally moving things out of high places and off the floor to reduce the chance of tripping or falling into something (have I mentioned I can be clumsy?!?).
Also think about how you are going to host guests in your home. One of the downsides of my tiny house is the lack of room for a guest. I do have my comfy chair that I am willing to sleep on, but that means the guest has to stay in the loft. In my mom’s case, she wasn’t thrilled with the idea of making it to the loft each evening. Although, in fabulous shape, she is in her 70’s and didn’t want to risk a fall. I obviously couldn’t negotiate stairs post surgery, nor sleep in the prone position, so the loft was out for me as well. These physical and space limitations meant we had to stay in a temporary “home” for slightly more than two weeks following surgery.
Do you want overnight guests? If so, make sure that the sleeping arrangements are appropriate for all involved. One of the things I am planning to do to improve my space in the future is to order a custom chair that has a pullout couch (my current space is just a little too small for a store purchased chair). This way I can have at least one guest who can sleep downstairs if they prefer not to tackle my loft stairs. If you are using a ladder for your loft access, this is even more of an issue for visitors.
Finally, be flexible enough with your budget that you can absorb unexpected costs with your tiny house! Although, I wasn’t thrilled about spending 17 nights in a hotel, I was able to afford it without stressing my budget past the breaking point. Realize that while you might not incur costs associated with surgery, there will still be repairs and upkeep required for you tiny house. Last month I had to replace my sewer line due to sun damage (i.e. cracks). Although your expenses will be a lot less with a tiny house, there will still be unexpected costs. Plan ahead!!!
None of these challenges are insurmountable, but they should be considered! I will keep you posted on surgery recovery and fill you in on any more “real-life” challenges associated with post-surgery recovery, particularly in a tiny home. Here is a very short list of things you can’t do easily with only one arm…
put your hair in a pony tail, use a can opener, use a salt or pepper grinder, tie your shoes, drive a car with a manual transmission, open anything that has a tight screw top lid, bring in a case of water from the grocery store (assuming you bought it before surgery…oops!), button jeans, buckle a belt, read a normal book, move anything off shelves, and make a bed!
The good news is that by planning ahead you can avoid some of the “limits” of tiny living. Until next time, Dream Big!
P.S. the start date for the Dream Big: Live Life on Purpose is moving to 11 January. Stay tuned for more information. Or Enroll Now to plan your dream life in 2016!