I’ve just completed a six-week course called, “Appreciate Your Nondominant Hand.” I did not sign up for the program. It was a crash course—in the most literal sense.
I fell backward and committed a cardinal sin: I caught myself with my left hand. The not-so-graceful move resulted in a clean fracture, but a fracture nonetheless, in my left wrist.
A few years ago, my friend Bob suggested I go online to learn how to fall safely. There are several “How to Fall” videos on YouTube that demonstrate proper technique and encourage the use of a mattress for practice.
I should have listened to Bob.
Instead, I’ve spent six weeks writing a love song to my left hand. Oh, how I’ve missed her.
While wearing a blue fiberglass cast—at least I had color choices—what were once minor tasks became major. No pushing, pulling, squeezing, lifting, and more. I could play tennis or pickleball, but I struggled with buttoning and snapping and zipping clothing.
Imagine the triumph I felt the first time I successfully pulled my bathing suit top over my head. Until I discovered the material had twisted behind my shoulders, and I couldn’t reach the back to unravel it.
While home alone on the eve of the fourth of July, I managed to put wing dip together and put it in the oven. I watched for the top to brown and the cheese to bubble. Then, I realized there was no possible way I could lift the dish out of the hot oven with only one hand.
And, oh, the challenge of flossing my teeth. I can read your mind. I can. You’re saying, “You can floss one-handed using dental picks.”
My thoughts exactly, so I bought a couple of packages of dental picks. But I couldn’t reach the four wisdom teeth that play hide ‘n seek in the way, way back of my mouth. And because there is little space between my teeth, I broke four to five picks per night just attempting to floss.
My right hand worked just fine, but it mattered not. Try shaving your right armpit with your right hand. Try washing and rinsing hair with one hand. Try snapping a baby in her car seat—one-handed.
I could hold a knife, but could not slice a watermelon or a peach without the help of my left hand to hold them in place. Frustrating, especially when one craves peaches on her morning cereal.
For the first couple of weeks, I depended on my main squeeze—a lot. It got so bad that all I had to do was hold up an earring or a necklace—or a peach, and Gary knew I required assistance.
I appreciated my husband’s countless efforts in trying to pull my hair back into a ponytail. After all, it’s not his line of work.
As the healing process did its thing, the fingers on the hand I missed so much loosened up. But when I tried to type, the bump on the cast kept striking unknown shortcuts sending my documents into formatting nightmares.
It should not surprise anyone that part of the “Appreciate Your Nondominant Hand” program included a self-taught session on one-handed typing. Which is what I did on every work project over six l-o-n-g weeks. I deserve an “A.”
Did I mention the crash course comes in two parts? I recently enrolled in Part II. It’s called, “Remembering You Have a Left Hand.”
You’d think that would be easy, but in the short time the cast has been off, I’ve caught myself continuing to attack life one-handed. Meanwhile, my poor left hand is screaming for a workout, and the right is begging for a vacation.
writer, blogger, columnist