My Left Hand

Hundreds of times each day I reach for something and my hand works to grasp it without a thought.  The motion and movement is automatic, but I have not taken that for granted for several years.

Around this time in April 2005 through no fault of mine the car I was driving was sandwiched between two other vehicles in an accident.   Occupants in the other vehicles left in ambulances, but I was able to be picked up by my then wife (thank you A.)  I made the obligatory visit to the emergency room within a couple of hours and was told I appeared to be fine.  There was a warning from the doc that I would be stiff and sore for a few days and was given a script for muscle relaxers just in case.  I was bummed about my car, a 1996 Volvo, I had babied since I had gotten it new almost 10 years before.  Yet, I was grateful to be ok.  The doctor was correct as I woke up the next working with an aching back and stiff from head to foot. 

The second morning I awoke and discovered quickly before I was even out of bed something was wrong.  I could barely move my left arm and hand and my hand was partially numb.  It all looked fine, but I only had the slightest ability to make any movements.  My arm just hung at my side.  I soon learned how challenging life is when you only have one working hand.   Drying off my hair off one-handed with a towel was a challenge.  Even when my arm was in a cast when I was in junior high I could still use my hand, but not in 2005!  Ever tried cutting your nails with one hand?  Even putting on underwear and clothing was tough (more than once I stumbled around trying to put pants on… funny now, but it was not humorous then).  I was scared.  In time the doctors found that in the accident I had damaged the Ulnar Nerve (the one often called the “funny bone”) and I had cracked an upper vertebra in my back.  The treatment?  Wait and see if the movement and feeling would come back.   If not back surgery would be the next step (yipes!).

Very little credit goes to traditional medicine for helping me recover.  Instead some weeks later the help I needed came from a skilled massage therapist who was well versed in eastern treatments such as acupuncture.  After the very first two session with her, I woke the next day with at least 30% use of my arm and hand.  In repeated visits over a few weeks, I improved more to where I ended up 75% use of my arm and hand and  some of the numbness in my hand went away.  That is about where I am now.

Today when I drop something because I don’t have full feeling in my left hand, I don’t get upset.  Those times when I can’t lift as much with my left arm as my right, I take in stride.  When I sit for too long in one position (airplanes, etc) and my left arm goes mostly numb, I don’t grumble.  Instead, I am grateful!  So very grateful!  I remember all too well the weeks when I had almost no use of my left hand and arm.  Words can not describe how elated I was when movement returned.  I am so thankful for “what is” that I rarely whine about abilities lost.  I will always be indebted to a talented therapistwho healed me with her caring and non-traditional methods.   Thank you Teresa.

There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed.  If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.  Robert Brault