Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting in touch with my inner-lefty

Dear constant reader: Today I decided to not remain at the mercy of a bunch of zero charisma barbers and made an attempt at left hand shaving.  I asked myself: What's the worst thing that can happen?  A badly misjudged stroke and either an ear removal (just like van Gogh--tres arty!) or a gash on the side of my face might result--small prices for freedom, and besides, I could tell people that the gash is a dueling scar.  Chicks dig that "dangerous" look.  Of course as the heroes in Sherman's Lagoon point out there's often a mighty fine line between "dangerously attractive" and " whack-o nut case" :

But first things first.  In my last installment I indicated that I could probably cling wrap and tape my cast without assistance.  Today I put that notion to the test and successfully pulled it off.  I quickly learned how to trap the roll between my body and the arm in the cast long enough to get the first lap of cling wrap to self-stick and behave itself.  Applying the tape to the ends of the wrap was a little tricky but doable.  Chalk up one up for the gimpster.  After showering I cut off the wrap and stepped up to the mirror for the next event in today's sporting challenge:  the 200 meter free-style shaving event w/Barbasol.  I lathered up cheeks, neck and chin, picked up my trusty Gillette, looked squarely into the mirror and started channeling my inner six year old: "this time you'll only be penalized if you screw up, not if you succeed, grasshopper".  After a few cautious, exploratory strokes I realized that I could do this--in fact my left handed shave was better than the one the reluctant barber gave me the other day with two hands.  Notch up another small victory for old gimp-meister.

Now before I leave you with the mistaken impression that life is a bowl of cherries for a guy in a cast, let us take a look at a few of those things which although simple and generally taken for granted by healthy individuals possessing two fully functional hands, are either a bit of a struggle or are out of reach for me right now:

Ten things which I can do independently but with some difficultly: 

1. doing/undoing shirt buttons
2. tucking shirt tails neatly into jeans
3. zipping and buttoning jeans (bonus artistic interpretation points awarded if shirt tail remains tucked during this bronze level "move")
4. tying shoes, buckling my watch band and similar motions that involve pulling with the right or both hands (these hurt, not enough to prevent the action but enough to get my attention--my right arm hates it and tells me so)
5. showering (including cast protective steps)
6. shaving
7. using a knife to cut bread, bagels, etc. (a struggle but I CAN do this, damn it)
8.grinding coffee beans then adding a filter, the fresh grounds and water to the coffee maker--very big
9. self-feeding (as long as involved use of knife + fork are avoided)
10. driving an automatic shift car to work and other nearby destinations

Ten things which have escaped me

1. wearing most coats, long sleeved shirts or pull overs--I'm thankful I didn't do this in the dead of winter
2. pulling on gloves in the lab--I'm pretty useless at the lab; right now I'm mainly providing answers to colleague's questions regarding techniques, etc. and doing paperwork, reading and so on.  My job requires a great deal of "hands on" tasks.  I'll have one hellva backlog once the cast comes off
3. lifting anything requiring two hands/arms e.g. a boat from the ground to car roof racks
4. riding a bike (can't shift the derailleurs, can only use one brake--maybe I'll look into a "fixie"[a single speed, track-style bike with no brakes, shiftable gears or free wheel]--I've always wanted to be a hipster)
5. sailing small race boats--with an arm in a cast this would be suicidal in any sort of breeze
6. using a manual can opener, even cans of things, like sardines, with pull tabs are a struggle
7. skating--couldn't pull on the boots if my life depended on it, let alone tie them anywhere near tight enough
8. use a cork screw--this is a huge reduction in the quality of life dept!
8a. use a beer opener--ditto re: nr 8, although I've discovered that I can manager "handicap" bottles (twist offs) although the contents of those bottles are seldom worth the effort
9. use a knife to spread thick condiments like peanut butter
10 reading books--I can do this for short while as long as the book isn't too large or heavy, but even small books require a lot of patience with page turning.  I try to remember to note the page I'm on before attempting the page turn in the very likely event that I'll loose control of the book--most annoying!

Well, I'm all washed up, shaved and fresh as a daisy.  Diaristwoman sings in choir at the 10 o'clock service.  She watched me while I dressed this morning and said "I don't want to hear any reports of snarky comments directed at the other parishioners--they mean well."  Moi?  Snarky?  What makes her say these things?  After the n-th person comes over and says "Gee, did you break yer arm then?" what's a man supposed to do?  I'm tempted to tell them that I'm trying out different themes for next Halloween, or hey, this is more timely--I'll say that I was wrestling with one of the wee people over his pot and just as it was about to fall into me grasp he whacked my arm with his shalali and as soon as he did both he and the pot disappeared, leavin' me with this busted flipper, don't cha known?

(the pot at the end of the rainbow)


  1. Sounds like you are doing reasonably well...

    I only had a stick-shift so life was.. interesting. I did manage it though. I'm not sure what you found so awful about the "plastic bag over your arm" for showering, though?

    And of course one of the hardest things you didn't mention -- going to the bathroom! (specifically "#2"... eep).


    1. I find the bag over the arm to be both awkward and leak prone if you don't get the tape correctly placed. The cling wrap gives me the sensation of being a left over ham waiting to be put back in the fridge but is much better in terms of shielding the cast from water. As for your other bathroom concerns I have no problems--no doubt one of the advantages of being semi-ambidextrous!

    2. Things could be worse, in my other life I am an occupational therapist so I see these types of things all the time. I've had patients with external fixation devices on their wrists injure themselves with the protruding pins when they sneezed or absent-mindedly tried to scratch an itch on their face. Spare a thought also for the spouse of cast wearer who gets whacked when cast wearer tosses and durns in bead at night.

    3. I haven't absentmindedly whacked her yet in my sleep and doubt that I will. I think that 30 years of sharing a bed with a woman who keeps a claw hammer within easy reach (in case we're ever burgled, she tells me)is deeply intrenched in my sleeping subconscious. I suppose the hammer thing is part of her Scandinavian upbringing--Thor, hammers, Viking mythology--whatever. Believe me--I'm the last guy who would ever want to startle my bride from a deep sleep!

  2. Oh my. I've been traveling for a couple of weeks so I am just catching up on this "breaking" news.

  3. Hello Terri: Yes, sadly I'll be off both the ice and the regatta circuit until mid to late May. But I've already told my coach that he's not seen the last of me--I've got some unfinished business to transact with that CCW 7-step Mohawk combo...

  4. Yes it will be! I'm looking forward to coming to grips with that particular demon--just as soon as I'm able lace 'em up!