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.


  1. I think the brain exercise stuff is the real deal. Might be awesome for your writing and life in general! Hope it feels better soon?..

  2. Thanks Denise! I think anything is worth a try.
    Nice to hear from you!