The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.
– Anne Frank
I find myself noticing my left hand as I leaf through my old pictures from before I lost some of the movement and a lot of the dexterity a couple years ago. Photos from just before, from my childhood and throughout every year in between now seem like reminders of a different me. A different life. A different future.
When I realize this it makes me scared. I guess, scared of the unknown and it makes me question myself; the future, my identity. Even my usefulness.
I’m a child again. When freedom meant different things.
I grab a hold and use my strength to grip the ropes of the swing. My hands feel the braid of the rope as my fingers hold tight; all the while my feet and legs are pumping to go higher and higher. It’s almost like flying.
Much the same as when I clasp both my little hands on the handle bars of my bicycle. When you ride a two wheeler, peddling as fast as your young leg muscles can go, you can zoom up and down hills with abandon. Without a care in the world.
Other times I use my mightiness to turn cartwheels all around our yard. I’m in gymnastics and I love it. I love the somersaults and handstands of my floor routines, as I work my way up to flips, walkovers and handsprings. The careful balancing on the beam as I jump once, twice, three times, as my arms are sticking straight out from my sides keeping me upright; keeping me on the beam.
There’s so much I can do!
I had a pet bunny. I named her C.T., as you may have guessed that stood for Cotton Tail. I’m not sure why; maybe that song, “Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the Bunny Trail”…
She was a white rabbit, and so, so soft. C.T. felt like the little tiny mittens that my mom kept tucked into a pocket of my “Baby Book”. I was a little unsettled by her red eyes, but someone told me that was normal?
I picked her up…a lot. Like I said, she was so soft, and she was cute, too. Cuddling may have been more my thing than hers.
She was soft. The puppies my grampie’s hunting dogs had were so soft, too. Touching their soft fur, petting them and holding them, feeling their warm little doggy-bodies was the ultimate joy.
When my grampie let me hold one I would want to nearly burst with joy. It was a two-handed job, and only for a big girl who could handle the responsibility.
As little girls I played with my little sister a lot. We did so many things together.
My hands got me through a lot. And even though I was right-hand dominate; I took for granted how much my left hand was my helper-hand.
I used both my hands to curl my teenager hair with my fancy new curling iron. Both hands were needed to learn to drive a stick-shift when my dad took me to the mall parking for lessons. I certainly used both of them when I played the flute in the school band.
From hugging, to toasting with a drink, clapping to show my excitement, right to consoling a friend with a gentle touch; I used two hands all day, every day. Because I could. Because I didn’t know any different.
As my father walked me down the aisle with my right hand grasping his arm; my left hand held tight to my bouquet. Then my husband placed a ring, a band of Celtic knots, on my ring finger – left hand.
Having children is what really clinches it (I use the term loosely, but no pun intended).
Babies need so much two-handed attention. You pick them up, you lay them down. You change their diapers, rub cream on them, bathe them. You hold them…hold them…HOLD THEM and don’t want to let go.
It’s one of the greatest things, as a parent, that you ever do – you get to hold your baby. Often, for hours at a time.
From dressing them, to making their food and feeding them, it’s certainly a two-handed job. I used to hold one of each of their little hands as we crossed the street.
I remember getting off a train at Penn Station and exiting Madison Square Gardens in order to cross 7th Avenue to get to our hotel. They were seven and two, and it was just the three of us. I held fast to those little hands the whole way!
I made them birthday cakes and wrapped their presents. I wiped their tears and fixed their scrapes. I made their beds and washed their clothes.
I volunteered at their schools.
It seems silly to me when I see these words, but I can’t help but be glad that I had two strong hands for forty years. I simply took it all for granted, as it seems we’re supposed to do, as we go about our lives.
I find myself pondering things like: can I still learn ASL (American Sign Language) or will I ever be able to knit? Two things I saw in my future. Much like how my husband was always hoping I’d start baking bread, as his mum had done while he was growing up. I didn’t ever do it though. Did I miss that chance?
If I can’t do these things, is that okay?
I can no longer type with two hands. Wrapping presents has become some kind of excruciating. And cooking and baking are so much more challenging. Just fitting a card into an envelope, and don’t even get me started about tearing a check off the book…
I look at my hands. My left hand no longer receives many of the signals I try to send it from my brain. It’s bizarre. Yet, it’s come so far. From completely incapacitated, to a different version of my former hand.
But it can’t be trusted. Words I wouldn’t imagine I’d ever say about my hand. It lets go without warning. I can only surmise a weak signal was completely dropped, much like a mobile call.
I’m sitting here in my living room and thinking about a conversation I recently had. As it seems to often happen, grandchildren came up. I know this is because my older son is twenty-three now, so it could be perfectly possible that I could become a grandparent in the next several years.
The person my husband and I were talking to had grandkids, and she’d brought it up. I heard myself saying that I’m not ready.
At this point people usually look at me, saying knowingly, “Ahh, yes you’re not ready for your baby to be grown up and starting a family.”
That may very well be true. I do wonder in disbelief how in the world he’s all grown, in fact how both my children are legally adults.
Except, I’m not ready because I am fearful. I really hate to say that.
But truth be told I am afraid that I won’t be able, on a much smaller scale than when I was a mommy mind you, but I won’t be able to take care of my grandchild. I won’t be able to pick him or her up and “take care of them” as I certainly did my own kids.
The baths, the food prep, the comforting. Even getting down on the floor or the ground outside to “play with them”. What kind of a help will I be to his or her parents? That’s certainly a part of it all.
I’m not saying that I dwell on this…but…
I will keep hoping to make a full recovery, and I won’t give up that hope. It’s quite amazing to see what the body can do. Otherwise, I’ll have to keep trying to accept myself as I am right now…
And I’ll try not to waste too much energy on these fears. Or spend too much time dwelling in the before.
**I’ve put some hand recovery video at the bottom, too.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Raina K Morton March 17 2015
My first hand rehab using a Bioness stimulator – otherwise at that time I couldn’t move it at all on my own.
The first morning that I got some movement in my pinkie…the only one thus far, very exciting that day! (*need manicure)
Just starting to be able to lift & move my arm after hours (days) of OT…gravity intervened plenty…
Some of my hand movement after 3 months of therapy!
Some video of my left hand just yesterday. It was fairly relaxed at the time. Pretty good example of range of motion, but it doesn’t capture the lack of dexterity.