It has been a slow process getting my arm to work normally again. I know, it’s only been a few weeks since I got the cast off, but I feel like I should be better at using my right hand by now. I am afraid I am becoming left-handed. According to several people I know, being left-handed is the way to go. They may be a little biased, life long left-handers tend to be on this topic, but I think I am starting to agree with them. It’s just easier, even though it isn’t exactly easy, to use my left hand. But I keep training with my right hand in the hopes that I will wake up one day able to do all those little things I used to take for granted.
Mornings are great! I try to go for a ride on my bike most mornings. I am slowly working my way up to longer times on the bike because all those muscles were frozen in one position for three weeks and it is taking awhile for them to loosen up and start to work again. Every morning I try to stay out a little longer than the day before. Today I started to add time, distance and different surfaces to my ride. It’s one thing to ride a long time on a smooth, pedestrian free surface and quite another to ride for just a short time on an uneven surface or gravel while swerving, stopping and changing speeds to avoid pedestrians, dogs, other bikes and scooters. Maybe the occasional small car trying to get to an impossible parking space. You just never know what you will encounter here, even on the bike lane.
For the rest of the day I try to use my right hand like I normally would. Which sounds pretty simple, I know, but in practice it is actually not that easy sometimes. By the end of the day I have to remind myself that I am right handed and should be eating with my right hand, or pouring, or whatever. It’s been a little frustrating to find that my body just doesn’t always do what I expect it to. Like when I go to scratch my nose and poke myself in the eye instead. Or when I try to brush the hair back from my eyes and miss completely. My hand ends up somewhere above and in front of my left shoulder batting away at nothing. Sometimes when I brush my teeth the toothbrush somehow jumps out of my mouth and scrubs the outside of my cheek instead.
Dinners have become “the meal I need to get through.“ The food is always great, the wine spectacular, but my dexterity with the fork and knife at the end of the day leaves something to be desired. I’ll get about halfway through my meal and suddenly the fork will stop part of the way to my mouth and just sort of hang there in mid-air. Like my hand forgot what it was doing. I stare at it for a second, wondering what just happened. I try envisioning the fork continuing its journey to my mouth, but that just never seems to work. I refuse to use my left hand to guide my right hand and fork to my mouth, because that’s just embarrassing, so I have begun to resort to the “air traffic controller” method of finishing my meal. I talk it in, sort of like all those airplane disaster movies in the 70’s and 80’s.
I tell myself to remain calm, that no one has noticed that my fork has been sitting in the same position for roughly a minute. I remind myself that I have done this before, countless times. That small children master this skill at an early age and if they can so can I. I stare at the fork and think at it loudly. “Move (slowly if you must) towards my face. You are aiming for the mouth which is located between the ears and below the nose. I have faith in you, you can do this. Just slowly…there you go! A little to the left, remember between the ears, not in the ears. Here’s the tricky part now, tilt the fork just slightly…Not Too Much…and turn it slightly so the pointy parts go into the mouth first.” By now my hand is shaking from the effort (and maybe just a little bit from nerves) but I am proud to say that usually I get it right, and while it’s obvious to others that something is going on, they graciously ignore what’s happening at my plate. This is repeated as many times as needed to empty the plate.
I know it will take time. I am just not as patient as I could be I guess. I am getting a little tired of seeing my hand and wondering whose hand that is, because if it were my hand it would be doing that thing I was thinking at this moment instead of what it is doing, which is usually nothing. I wonder if this is how the bionic woman felt the first time she tried to eat with her bionic arm. It would make me feel tons better if you would just smile and say “yes.” Gives me hope for tomorrow, when I hope to tackle soup. I’m thinking a drop cloth and a raincoat…what do you think?