Around Thanksgiving, I injured my wrist and hand. Since then, I’ve learned to appreciate two wrists, two hands, and 10 fingers. Optionally, I am still glad I have my teeth, too.
Feeding 20 feral cats, half neutered and spayed, is curious when only one hand works. Using the old -school can opener with one hand is a comedy skit. I position the opener, then reposition the opener, then mutter “ouch” as I keep trying to use my injured hand. The can rolls into the sink, spits sauce around and topples to the floor. “Stop that!” Finally, I give up. “Not going to happen,” I sigh.
Jump ahead a couple weeks. A friend found an automatic (almond color) can opener from the 70’s at Rainbow’s End, Now, I can try again. After dropping the canned tuna several times, I finally locked the magnet to the top and was able to push the ON button – all with the good hand. Success. Now the task is scooping it out into the eight strategically placed cat bowls. I have to use the cast as a support beam (no hands to grip anything at all) in maneuvering the can to the side so as to spoon the flakes out into the cat dishes. I tried without that support and the can just moves across the table.
Sleeping? Try insomnia backed up with wrist and hand pain – shooting, stabbing, throbbing, and pumping pain. I tuck the cast with dangling frozen fingers under the pillow. I pull it out and rest it on the pillow. Then, I sit on the side of the bed. I lie back down on the other side and rest my bandaged hand on my dog sleeping next to me. I somehow doze and then the restlessness strikes me again. Get ready. Set. Start the cycle again.
Cooking is dangerous with this cast. I can’t grip with my left hand and so when I try, I drop the boiling pasta pan or tomato or seasoning. I can’t cut food either unless I use my cast to steady the plate. Turning on the water faucet is a non-starter, too. I just can’t grip the faucet tight enough to turn the knob.
Not only do my choppers work for eating, they open a package of glucosamine for the dogs. I place my lowers and uppers on one visible but tiny flap and my good thumb and index finger on the other. My teeth hold the package while I pull with the good hand. Voila! The dogs get their dose.
I can type with one hand. Patting my dogs and cats is doable with my good hand, too, and the motion soothes any emotional pain from the frustration of ongoing pain since Thanksgiving. I can wash my hair with one hand but dressing myself is another comedy sketch as I wrestle with under clothes, and jeans and tops that snag on my cast as I try to slip my arm through the sleeve. I loaded my clothes into the washer this afternoon and transferred them to the dryer; but I couldn’t fold the towels; and hanging my blouses was trial and error times three.
Reminding myself how thankful I am for teeth, limbs and digits isn’t enough to negate the pain; yet, I’m psyching up for some “torture” on the ligaments to build elasticity; and then spring forward with gratefulness. I’ll be ready to pass it forward while thankful for range of motion — that’s pretty soon, I hope. If occupational therapy works next week, I’ll have full use of my hand — like yesterday already.
—Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]