Saturday, August 3, 2013

Among Other Things, Learning to Be a Lefty

In my post Writing Challenges from a month ago, I had talked about my trigger thumb and the tendinitis in my right arm.   This week I decided to take the next step and go to a hand specialist. I went to Tria Orthopaedic Center in Bloomington and met with a hand doctor.  She gave me a cortisone shot in my thumb and assured me it was okay not to be a hero since I had already been dealing with this for five months and my last cortisone shot was two years ago and helped tremendously.

While there, I also saw a hand therapist who gave me some daily exercises to do (four times a day!) and fitted me with a custom wrist brace. I'll be back for a few more visits to try some different therapy techniques.  I'm hopeful that I'll finally get some relief.


It's quite a stylish looking piece, isn't it?  The black arm sock with the off-white cast and plum color velcro straps will go well with late summer/early fall fashions.  It also makes my problems look more serious than they really are, possibly invoking sympathy from strangers and friends.  ;-)

So, while my right hand and arm are getting a much needed vacation, I'm learning what it's like to use my left hand in a right-handed world.  I encountered a set of doors with all the handles on the left, requiring use of the right hand. Driving a car: turning the key in the ignition is impossible with a brace on your right hand;  I have no right thumb to release the parking brake;  also, using a clutch would be hard, but even with my automatic, I still need to shift from Neutral to Drive to Reverse, etc.  And (to add insult to injury) my espresso machine carafe has the spout on the left side so I have to pour coffee with my right hand or else do contortions and awkward choreography with my left side-body and arm.

I'm sure for lefties it's not as hard because they've had to learn these maneuvers right from the get go.  For me, it's like learning to walk all over again.  Everything takes longer, and of course, it's very tiring.  I suppose it didn't 't help having cortisone-injected numb thumb to deal with as well.

The brace can be off while I dance, but dancing is not the problem for me.  The problem is writing.  I tried doing pen and paper edits on a document, and when I came back to it a few hours later, I couldn't read my own writing.

I've also been Dragon Blogging.  I'm using my Dragon Naturally Speaking software to dictate my blogs, and it's quite challenging because the software doesn't quite work properly with Blogspot, so I have to go back and make tons of edits later so it doesn't look like gibberish or really bad writing.

Some of my friends have asked me, "Can you find the blessing  in this situation?" Now, for some, that might seem like an insensitive remark, but the people who said it are dear friends who've gone through a lot worse things than I have.

The best "blessing" that I can muster is that I get the opportunity to use my left hand.  Oh, joy.  Is that really enough of a blessing?

I guess it could be. While my right hand is still very functional but at rest, my left hand is learning how to do things with more accuracy.  I also wonder, since I've been right-hand dominant all my life, if I've been operating mostly from the left side of my brain.

If I use my left hand more actively, at least for a short time, would I be operating more from my right brain?  Would that help me as go back over my novel for the umpteenth time, maybe developing new insights just because the other part of my brain is getting stronger and the places where I've gotten stuck before will be introduced to a new perspective?

Only time will tell.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Defining Blogs

Two days ago ended my month-long blog challenge.  When I counted out how many days I had missed, I couldn't believe I had skipped 16 days out of the month.  It didn't seem like that much at all, probably because my blogs were longer than average, so I guess I can count some of them as two entries.

I also realize that I've been blogging for over a year, and I've really enjoyed it.  Not all blogs are created equal, but they are endowed by their creator with certain distinctive styles.   That among these are ordinary everyday events (which sometimes require seat-of-the-pants writing).  Also, reviews of shows or artwork, and with those, my writing often feels a bit more confined, mostly because I want to do justice to another person's art form.   I've also gotten rather technical on some of the dance reviews, which the average reader might find rather challenging.  Ah, yes, the technical writer in me still lives, even as I write about something creative and abstract!

There are also my travel log reports which often turn into lists of restaurants and tourist attractions. These require some research, but a lot of people have found them helpful, and I have referred new readers to those posts, especially if they're looking for gluten-free options or ideas for things to do in the area.

Photos are always nice with any blog. Sometimes there are blogs that I've wanted to write, but I know they'd be better if I had the proper pictures to go with them.

I think my nostalgia pieces have been the most popular, but of course, I have a large family, and they get a kick out of reading about those detailed memories. 

Recently I was watching some old lecture DVDs from my MFA writing program about layering and the "second thing" in your story. I think that's what I've tried to do in my blogs. I've tried to create different layers for my audience to dwell in as they read, and to establish the "second thing" in the post so it's not just a list or a report or an analytical review.

The blog challenge this year has been great. I like it because it gives me a chance to write new material. (Most of the time, I'm revising and rewriting.)  But this month life is getting busier and with physical complications (which I will cover in my next post), I'm thinking my entries are going to be shorter.  And hopefully more layered and pithy while still achieving that "second thing."

Then again, I could set out to write a few short paragraphs (my intention for today), and end up with a lot more than I expected.