Short-Term One-Handed Living
Since a stroke twelve years ago, after surgery to correct an arteriovenous malformation, my left hand does little more than form a fist. On a good day I can open it enough to wrap it around a handle-type car door, and open it again to let the handle go before it starts to seize up, but that's really the extent of it's movement. Consequently, I've become an expert at living with one hand. Even though I was left-handed before the stroke, I can make it look living as as a one-handed, right-handed person so natural that people who don't know that my stroke affected my left hand often don't realize it initially.
Friends who injure an arm or hand or have to temporarily live one-handed are often taken aback at how difficult it can be especially if the injured hand is their dominant one. They often have questions for me.
Here are some general tips for getting by for people who find themselves suddenly having to live temporarily one-handed:
- Don't be afraid to ask for assistance with tasks. People who live-onehanded have difficulty with spreading things on bread, cutting food, opening jars and tins, opening packaging like potato chip bags and cellophane wrapping, and opening childproof pill bottles. A visit from a friend or family member once day gives you a chance to get assistance with making your sandwich for lunch the next day, getting veggies cut for tomorrow's dinnertime salad, opening the jar of canned fruit for snacks, and getting your medications out of the jars.
- In restaurants, ask your server to bring you your food already cut up. You may feel a litttle embarrassed, but they really don't care, and you are going to find it very difficult to cut your food by yourself when you can't use a knife and fork at the same time.
- Minimize buttons and long zippers on clothing. Buttons are very awkward for people who live one-handed, as are zippers that aren't anchored (such as a coat zipper). No need to buy a new wardrobe, but keep your frustration level as low as possible during your recovery time by bringing out those shirts that don't have a lot of buttons. If you're in the winter months, wear a heavy sweater under your coat so that you can go without zipping up your coat as much as possible, or get okay with asking people to help you do up your zipper.
- Try out a low-maintenance hairstyle. If you've got long hair and you've been thinking about cutting it short, now might be the time to try it. It's very difficult to blow-dry and style your hair at the same time as a one-handed person, and styling options for long hair in general are minimal. Hair grows back.
- If you're being forced to use your non-dominant arm/hand, try to write, not print. Writing is easier. Practice your writing by making lines of joined loops, two spaces tall, on a sheet of joined paper. Remember that learning to write is among the easier things that you will have to learn to do if you are learning to use your non-dominant hand.
These tips will hopefully give you some general ideas for living one-handed as your other hand recovers from a temporary injury. Watch for articles about more specific issues that the person who lives one-handed faces and how to deal with them.