Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Loss of an arm -- though temporary -- prompts grateful thanks and tribute to amputees, paralysis victims

Normally Cookie's playing piano at Montana Jack's this time
of year, but no more  playing until the sling's off and muscles repaired.

Fixing the hair -- a two-handed job -- requires help from Keller now.

Wounded warrior arms herself for battle with the fates; she offers this appreciation for those whose loss is permanent

Sailing is only a dream, with the chance of bumping the sling.
Dancing isn't possible for now,
with a sling on a sprained arm.

ANYONE WHO has lost a limb to disease, injury or accident may find this confessional trite and cliched. I apologize to all of you, if this intended tribute sounds naive or self-pitying.
But after 11 days with my left arm in a sling -- result of a painful and severe sprain -- I have utter respect for all who have lost an arm or leg and have no hope of recov.
I will never view an amputee or quadriplegic, or anyone whose  limb has been rendered permanently useless in the same clueless light.
My impediment is, to borrow from "Monty Python," a mere flesh wound.f

Walking Nick and Nora was fun.  Now it's difficult
and painful with only one arm.
THIS ESSAY  is about arms, not legs, except as I involved them to make up for the temporarily lost limb. I actually used the pruners yesterday with my "good" right arm, and my left leg and knee, even involving my toes.
I'm sure a wounded warrior or car accident survivor could write a parallel for legs.
ALMOST EVERYTHING we do in the course of a day -- from our mundane toiletries and ablutions to cooking, gardening, walking, reading, cleaning, cuddling -- requires both arms fully functioning.
I started a list of the tasks I have had difficulty performing -- routine daily chores, and rituals particular to my life. With only one arm, everything is more complicated. In morning, I struggle with:
* BRUSHING my teeth.  No longer is one hand on the brush and the other on the toothpaste. I can put not even the slightest pressure on a tube.
There are one-handed piano players, but a
saxophone really requires both arms.
Try holding a baby with one arm.
* Putting on my bra. That's a two-hander! Keller to the rescue, although he claims he is far more adept at removing bras!
* Taking a decent shower, washing hair.
* Putting on a pair of earrings, zipping my pants. fixing my hair.
* Stirring oatmeal, holding the breakfast toast to butter it. Unscrewing a new jar of jam.
* Cutting a peach.
* Opening a can of dog food.
* Filling the bird feeders. Using the weed whacker. No dice.
Maneuvering the weed whacker was easy earlier in summer. It's hard now. 
* Watering the flowers and planting petunias -- it's hard to pull apart the roots of six-pack plants without both hands. I used my good arm and my teeth! (Sorry, dear dentist.)
THAT'S JUST to get me to mid-day. Afternoon chores and writing have been radically altered. With one arm, I have trouble with:
* Typing -- I was 160 words a minute with no mistakes. Now I'm hunting and pecking with my right hand like my old time newspaper editors.
* Threading a needle to do some mending. I finally put the needle between my toes to steady it.
Gambling is possible with a single hand, but easier with two!
* Collapsing a step ladder that was in my way.  I held it in place with my hip to fold it up.
* Turning the pages of a book or magazine.
* Changing a light bulb.
* Opening a bottle of wine. (Corkscrew flipped out of my good hand and broke a glass.)
Packing the trunk for an adventure used to be a pleasure! Now, cumbersome. 
* Driving a car, riding a bike, pushing a wheel barrow, playing piano, tuning up my saxophone, folding laundry. Walking the Yorkies.
* Mixing, baking and serving cookies.
* Hoisting a sail as Cap'n Keller gives orders.
* CHANGING the hoses and screwing in the sprinkler, holding a baby or changing her diaper -- difficult if not impossible at this early stage of my "handicap."
*  With my Irish up, I determined to hang a picture and finally did it, pounding in the hook, then straightening the small painting with my nose and shoulder.
I've improvised to my best ability, as all handicapped people learn to do.  Again, humble kudos.
TO EVERY brave soul who has lost the use of a limb, then struggled to regain a "normal life," my fondest salute and admiration. In no way do I compare myself to you.  But next  time I see you crossing an intersection, maneuvering through a grocery store, or queuing up for a movie, I will ask if I can be helpful or provide even small service.
Hats off to all the wounded, injured, recovering.  My lesson is one of thanks that my arm is mending.  I am richer for these weeks of repair and reflection.  My attitude is one of gratitude.

Lisbon's ode to the explorers is a huge marble sculpture paying tribute
to Portugal's discoveries.  It is located in the attractive Belem area.
COMING SOON:  Let us lead you to the wonders of Lisbon, a city we love and think you will, too. Nautical lore and a beautiful port, fashion, food, music, museums and friendly people are part of the appeal.  Come to Portugal with us and remember to keep your sense of fun as you explore, learn and live. We post Wednesdays and weekends at: www.whereiscookie.com

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