3 July 2003
I stood there looking at my foot and feeling really stupid.
I had stepped on something. Nothing painful, but I thought it might be a remnant of a
shard of glass from a juice glass I'd dropped the day before. The whatever-it-was was
imbedded in my foot--again, not painful, but enough to make me aware of it. They teach
you, in diabetic training, to be very careful about foot care and I knew that I needed to
check the whatever-it-was and make sure that it wasn't anything that was going to start an
infection in my foot.
It was my left foot. The one attached to the leg that has the swollen knee. The leg
that won't bend. So I couldn't lift up my foot and check the bottom of it with my right
hand. And I couldn't bend down and check it with the left hand, because that was firmly
attached to my waist.
Ultimately, ever resourceful, I solved the problem by running the bottom of my left
foot across the top of my right foot and the whatever-it-was seemed to come off.
Amputation was not imminent. Crisis averted.
When I originally broke that glass, I tried to sweep it up. It was very awkward, but I
did manage to get a sort of pile of glass swept together. Then I looked at it, looked at
the broom and the dustpan and thought "ok--now how am I going to pick all of this
up??" Ultimately I had to leave it for Walt to do when he got home.
Since I am no longer "busy about many things," and since my world has shrunk
to a recliner and a television (with breaks for computers and runs to the office--but
basically it's a lot smaller than it used to be), I have time to reflect on the change
that my new one-and-a-half handed status has made in my life. I'm not entirely one-handed,
since I can use the left hand, for limited things (thank heavens that includes
Let's take that recliner for example. It's a great place for a person with a
sore shoulder to sit and to sleep. But getting into it is a comedy of errors. The foot
rest elevates great, but not quite high enough to get my leg above the level of my heart
(which they tell me it should be). To do that requires (a) two pillows, (b) a blanket, and
(c) a rolling set of drawers in which I keep shoes.
I roll the drawers into place, get the pillows and blankets ready and recline the
chair. Then I add the overstuffed pillow, put the bed pillow on top of that, resting on
the drawers, and then put a blanket under all of that, which raises it all to the right
level, as long as I'm lying flat.
But if I put the pillows to my side, they get caught under the handle of the recliner
and I can't get the chair back far enough. If I move them away from the handle, chances
are I will have moved them just out of reach of my hand. That's when the back scratcher
comes in handy. I studiously reach...reach...reeeaaaaccccchhhh and hope that I
can hook the pillow or blanket and move it within hand-reach. By now I'm sweating with
exertion. I get it all set up, lie back to let the blood start pumping in the right
...and the phone rings.
...the phone I've forgotten to move to the table before trying to get into the chair.
Or I realize that I have to go to the bathroom. Now.
One time I decided I'd be really smart and I'd remember to move everything within easy
reach, including the telephone and the remote control. Very proud of myself, I got
into the chair, positioned the pillows and then realized that "easy reach" for
the blanket was the LEFT side of the chair, clearly just a finger-tip away....if you have
the use of your left hand.
Ellen and Shelly dropped off beautiful zucchini the other and and I decided I'd cook
some for lunch yesterday. I figured I had enough use of my left hand that I could use it
to slice the vegetables, but discovered that while I could hold the knife and bring it to
the zucchini, the pressure of cutting through the hard skin caused a pain to shoot right
up ito my shoulder. Oops. Bad idea. I did somehow manage to cut with the right hand, but
it involved intense concentration (and I did keep bandaids handy in case the knife
Brushing my teeth is fun. Something very simple. But I've been doing it for 60 years
with my left hand and when there is a brush in my mouth and the bristles are going up and
down, even though the brush is being held with my right hand, my left hand just naturally
starts shaking up and down. It's like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the
I'm reading the new Harry Potter right now. A good book, but a b-i-g book. Easy to read
while balanced on my knee while I'm sitting in the chair, but I won't be taking it in the
car with me when we drive to Santa Barbara for the 4th of July because I can't figure out
how to hold it on my lap in the front seat. If it slips and falls, I'll never be
able to pick it up again. Better find a nice pocket book to read for the 8-hour
Riding in the car is fun too. I can neither buckle or unbuckle the seatbelt, so I'm
totally at the mercy of the driver.
The most impressive is trying to get dressed (but I'm not going to post photos of
that!). After trial and error, I figured out that the easiest, most effective way to get
dressed is to run around in the altogether for a bit till I'm nearly dry, douse myself
liberally with baby powder (which dries off my back, though it leaves a mess on the floor,
which I can't sweep up) and then through a series of contortions to get the shirt on, then
the brace, then the pants. I haven't tried zippers yet--still very happy to have lots of
elastic at my disposal.
It's a good thing I have a sense of humor about all this. As I go about trying to
devise new ways to do familiar things, I laugh at how silly I must look.