Thursday, September 06, 2007

just call me "lefty"

it's a little amazing (and annoying) how much daily routine whatnot is governed by favored handedness. what follows is a list of challenges, difficulties, and anecdotes concerning life as a mostly-righty (i write and draw with my left, but do most everything else with my right) with a cast-encased broken right forearm... or... bitching, moaning, and/or whining. you decide.

pulling open doors, turning doorknobs, twisting door locks, inserting keys and twisting key locks, opening car doors, opening passenger side doors from the inside... i naturally do all these things with my right hand. i've had to reach and adjust to accomplish these little feats with my left. extra fun when i'm carrying something in one or both of my hands at the time!

eating with utensils. if asked about it before this injury, i would have said that i'm not really handed in my eating habits, but simply have a *preference* for using my right, thinking that it's a very basic move, involving simple motion and nothing all that precision, y'know? well, i would have been wrong. i'm definitely right handed when it comes to using a fork or spoon. i manage allright with my left, but not without working at it. spooning soup or something like fried rice can be tricky with the off hand. i have to watch my hand and the spoon in it to make sure i'm not gonna spill or lose any of what i've scooped before the plane makes a successful landing. with my right hand, i wouldn't eyeball it at all, much less think about it. gotta say, it definitely subtracts from the satisfaction of eating. because of this, i've had some pizza almost every day since i broke my arm. burgers, sandwiches, fries, all manner of breaded boneless chicken pieces and shapes, and popcorn are all enjoyable one-handed eating. fajitas, not so much.

brushing my teeth left-handed. gotta be careful and think about how i'm holding the toothbrush. took a while to calibrate so that i would accurately be brushing my teeth vs my gumline. when i went at it without caution early on i made a good go at lodging my toothbrush in my sinus.

q-tipping my right ear using my left hand. after several weeks, i still haven't really gotten the hang of this. absolutely have go slow. it's a very tricky maneuver and if you're even a little too enthusiastic, goodbye eardrum! however, once in there, with a slight manipulation into the grey matter, you can send yourself into a lively uncontrolled jig.

mousing with my left hand. not all that awful. i trained myself a few years back to mouse left-handed to better play some first person shooters. i'd begun my fps career as a strictly keyboard player, and some of my instinctive finger-on-keyboard habits couldn't be broken, keeping me from learning to play with the mouse as a righty. i discovered that i could break the left hand of the keyboard conventions without too much difficulty, tho, and began to mouse as a lefty when i gamed. it's been a couple years since i've regularly indulged in rocket launcher fun, but i think it took me maybe a week to get to a decently precise practice of lefty mousing for non-gaming. with the long cast, mouse and keyboard work was very taxing. i'd only be using my left hand, and to manage modified clicks, i'd hafta swing my encased right arm over the keyboard. very tiring stuff. with the short cast, it's much easier, but still requires some odd positioning of the shoulder, so still tiring, but not so quickly.

wardrobe adjustments. with the long cast on, i avoided pants and shirts with buttons/buttonholes and zippers. the long cast basically reduced the range of my right hand and fingers to a fixed distance describing circles with my shoulder as the center. you can imagine how few buttons on garments would naturally coincide with any of those circles. so it was tee shirts and gym shorts whenever possible. lucky for me, i was able to work from home for almost all the time i had the long cast on. once i got upgraded to the short cast, i could re-introduce claspy clothing, although small buttons are still a chore, as my hand and fingers are still not capable of their full range of motion, restricted by the spinach fiberglass.

reading books while reclined or lying down is a pain, cuz i can't easily hold up/back the right side of the open book, not for long at a comfortable reading distance.

folding laundry is a chore of a chore. my clothes for the past month and a half have been even more wrinked than usual.

carrying a large popcorn and soda from the concession stand to the theater was way tricky with the long cast. easier now with the short one. on my way into SUNSHINE at the kendall, i ended up having to yank the door to the room open using my foot. there was an usher within earshot, but as a not so hard and fast rule, i've tried to tackle everything in my day-to-day without asking for help unless absolutely necessary. for the most part, however, when help's been offered, i've taken it. one clumsy result of this useless stubborn attitude was the dumping of half a bucket of popcorn into my sister's bag during a movie. d'oh!

showering, and drying, with just my left arm. the plastic bagging and sealing of the cast before a shower was a very annoying chore. especially since it had to be done, of course, one-handed. in the shower, i'd hafta hold my right arm up, usually leaning thru the cast onto the tiled wall. early on, my hair was still very short, and i let myself get away with just using soap to wash my hair. this year, since jan 1, i've been cutting my own hair, and it works out that i need a new buzz every 4 weeks, 5 max. however, since the injury, i haven't been able to give myself a buzz w the clippers, and over the last couple weeks, it's been something of a mess. not awful, and not really long, but long enough of a grown out buzz cut, that it's just not sharp looking, y'know? it's supposed to be sluggo, not play-doh barbershop. anyhow, i've felt the need to go w shampoo since it's gotten all unruly, and getting shampoo out of a bottle into your hand and onto your head, without compromising the bottle, it's a task one-handed. also, my right arm may be turning psychadelic colors under the cotton and fiberglass in the weeks since the fracture, but my left arm, you'll realize, hasn't experienced the touch of scrubbing soap bubbles for just as long.

incidentally, since i've gotten the short cast, the skin on my right arm has been peeling away in small pieces and flakes. most noticeably, and alarmingly, from my hand, starting from within the cast, and traveling out towards my fingertips. you can see a craggy line between the darker skin of my fingers and the pinker or whiter skin close to the edges of the cast. bleah. it looks like ghastly special effects work.

i tell myself that once i've got the cast removed, i'll make an effort to keep in the habit of switching things up in a regular way, handedness-wise. brush with my right every other day and my left on the days between, y'know? it sounds good in theory, and off-handedness should stimulate typically unexercised parts of the brain matter, or so my barely remembered high school health class teachings tell me... or was it a nova on pbs? or perhaps second or third-hand info from a random discussion...? whether i'll stick with it. well, given my history, i'd say it's unlikely, honestly. hohum. we shall see.

keep on keepin on~

1 comment:

zorknapp said...

It's interesting to think about the things like eating, that you thought were just a preference, but that you find now are more than that...

I think that those little things would be the most annoying.