Dealing with being handicapped

It is 6 a.m. and I’m the only person in the emergency ward.
It is eerily quiet compared to Monday afternoon. Cathy, the nurse in charge, has just started the IV drip and I will lie on my back for the next two hours.
I will be back again in 12 hours and the procedure will be repeated for several days to come.
I must commend the emergency staff at La Verendrye Hospital, who have been very attentive to my plight. I’ve lost the use of my upper left arm and shoulder, and that has left me frustrated and sore.
My left arm and shoulder continued to develop more pain over the past year. Last week, I finally gave in and spoke with my doctor, who injected a steroid into the shoulder.
The quick fix didn’t work and by the next morning I was in intense pain. I gave it two and my doctor referred me to emergency, when he would be working on Friday morning.
He took a liquid sample from my shoulder and sent it off to a lab for analysis. Meanwhile, I was given some antibiotics and told to come back if the pain did not go away in 72 hours.
On Monday morning I was back in emergency. More blood tests and X-rays were taken. Finally a decision was made to introduce me to a much stronger antibiotic that had to be received as an IV drip.
Up until now, I hadn’t given much thought to people being handicapped. But until an appendage is removed from use, you fail to understand that even putting on a shirt is a complicated process.
Putting on a jacket or even pulling up your pants with one functioning is now difficult.
I’ve always put my right arm first into a jacket or shirt, then lifted my shirt over my shoulder to slide my left hand down the sleeve. Try reversing that and discover it isn’t so easy.
Try pulling your pants over your hips and then realize one arm can’t pull them up. You end up wiggling, juggling, and try to get your left side up with your right hand before your right side falls back down.
As parents we teach our children to dress themselves. We don’t give any thought to how many steps go into pulling a shirt over your head after your arms are in.
But lose an arm and the whole idea of getting your hands into the right holes, and then whipping the shirt over your head, has to be thought through step by step until it becomes automatic.
You end up analyzing and planning every step, and often it takes two or more attempts to get it right.
And just as a youngster will refuse help to dress, I’m finding myself rejecting assistance when it is offered.
A typical issue is the seat belt. When I’m on the driver’s side, I use my left hand to bring the buckle across my chest and then to fasten it. Now I’m reaching across my body with my right arm, grabbing the belt behind my left shoulder, and then fastening it.
Even pulling the vehicle door closed is a challenge.
It is time to put the tablet down and grab some shut eye. Columns can be written early in the morning.

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