The Buffett and All The Other Stuff You Would Never Think Of
A Story About Hands
I have adapted so well to only using my right hand throughout the day that I assume the habit is as invisible to others as it is to me. I am right handed. My left hand was rendered useless in 1999 by a stroke. It was clenched in a fist and paralyzed. It has slowly regained some function, but I am in such a habit of ignoring it for its uselessness that it has become less useful.
I was recently standing in a buffett line with some close family members at a funeral. Everyone was eager to help me get my food. I asked my niece if she could just lend me a hand and hold the plate for me so I could shovel my food onto it. I explained that that is the part I can’t do with only one hand. Another woman in line said “Oh, I never would have thought of that.” It hit me then and there that of course we don’t think about what it is like to be disabled. I do since it happened to me. I think about people like Christopher Reeve who lived for years with an injury much more disabling than mine. I can manage my own self care. I live a full life.
Since the funeral, I‘ve been thinking a lot about the other things no one thinks about related to my condition. If I have an itch or bug bite on my right side, my left hand can’t usually scratch it. This leads to all sorts of calisthenics whereby I’m rubbing up against a doorway or table edge to scratch. Rather than move my left hand, I end up moving my right arm against my left or other inaminate object.
Likewise, applying lotion or sunscreen to my right side is problematic. Absent someone to help, the cream goes on my leg and I wipe it off with my right arm.
It isn’t possible to drive a manual transmission vehicle. Steering a car using only one arm diminishes your safety and ability behind the wheel. I once used a spinner knob to drive which made those turns where you would use the hand over hand turning technique possible and much easier. I put my turn signal on with the same hand I use to steer. Going through a drive through window of any sort poses challenges because they are always configured for left hand use.
I am still working on one handed shoe lace tying, but mostly wear shoes without laces.
My right hand is generally occupied by carrying my cane so if I need to open a door for example, I must hold the cane with my left hand and open the door with my right. When walking with the cane, I can’t carry much of anything in my left hand.
I have a big head of curly frizzy hair that I used to put in a ponytail. I haven’t quite figured out how to do this one handed.
My headline was misleading. This is not a list of ALL the stuff you would never think of. I would appreciate any tips or tricks anyone can offer as I continue to engineer my days as a one handed wonder.
Thank you for reading :)