Changing Hands

Whenever I’m faced with a new challenge I spend the first few days working out what’s possible, what’s not, and how things can be adapted to make a task or situation easier.

Two days ago I lost the use of both my hands in the course of a single day. The index fingers on both hands still work to some degree – the right being stronger than the left – so fortunately I’m still able to type. Two days in, I thought I’d share with you my new ways of doing some simple tasks.

I already use a camping cup with a lid to avoid spills, and I can partially hold the handle with my working index finger. But it’s not strong enough to hold the weight of a full cup of tea, so my current technique is to cradle the bottom of the cup with my other arm much like you would a baby, and push the cup up towards my mouth. Then my index finger guides it in with the handle. Ta da!

Going to the toilet
This proved tricky at first, particularly because my hands first locked up while I was wearing jeans with a zip fly. As soon as I could I changed into a pair of jogging bottoms. The three main complicated bits to going to the loo are taking my trousers down, wiping myself, and getting my trousers back up.

I’ve discovered that pulling my trousers up and down is easier and less painful when I’m lying on my back, so I’ve put a towel on the floor to help me. I’ve no idea how I’ll do it when I’m out and about – I don’t fancy lying on my back in a public toilet if I can possibly help it.

As long as the toilet roll’s in the right place and on its spinner I can successfully pull some paper off by using my working finger and my arm as a team. I pull off more than usual (sorry trees) to help ensure this is successful. It’s quite hard but I’m managing alright so far.

(Note: Since writing this I did topple off the loo while trying to wipe. I was surprised but unhurt. It felt strange, falling and not being able to reach my hands out for protection.)

I can manage some food with my fingers but I’m yet to attempt eating with cutlery. Leftwing Idiot and I went out for dinner last night and what I couldn’t manage myself he helped me with.

Phone calls
Thank goodness for my speaker phone!

As long as this lasts I know there’ll be more challenges and creative solutions to tell you about.

But as well as finding new ways to do things I’m having to ask for a lot more help. So, for my support workers, here’s a list (not complete) of what you’ll need you to help me with from now on:

Wheelchair seat belt buckle
Wheelchair brakes
Zips and buttons
Getting jumpers on and off
Tying my hair back
Getting tablets from packets
Brushing my teeth
Sticking my finger up at the lamp-post and Boofing

On the upside I’m a lot safer around sharp objects, boobs and policemen’s bums.

One response to Changing Hands

  1. CustardRump says:

    Hi Jess, sorry to hear your hands have frozen up. I have rheumatoid arthritis and after a lot of treatment I have a lot of movement but for a time there, I was similarly claw like and frozen and it was awful. I hated the feeling that went along with the loss of my hands, I sometimes felt like a child being fed and dressed, not cutting up my food or doing my buttons. Your description of drinking reminded me that I did exactly the same. I also found drinking straws to be great rather than having to hold a cup. I also got Triathlon laces which are elastic and meant I could push my foot into my shoe without having to undo or do up my laces. I hope it is temporary and you can get by for a while till it unfreezes. Thinking of you and your frustrating little sock puppets.

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