Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The crip files: Pure Comedy Gold Edition

I managed to bathe. Let all rejoice.

Here's how to bathe when your left arm doesn't work, but your hand does: bring everything into range of your hand, rather than bringing your hand into range.

In other words, to scrub your left armpit, you must first firmly grasp your left wrist in your right hand. Then you must lever your left arm into such a position that it stays propped behind your head. Then you scrub and rinse.

To wash your hair, you must lower your head to the level at which both hands can reach it. (Scrubbing one-handed is not an option. I have a lot of hair.) Similarly, if you wish to put your wet hair up in a clip to keep it from falling in your face and making you homicidal, you must bend over to the point that your arm won't fall down when you're trying to use your hand. This is especially important if the distal portion of your arm (ie, your hand and wrist) are unaffected by the weakness in your shoulder and tricep. If your arm starts to drop, you will instinctively tighten your grip on your own hair, demonstrating exactly how heavy your arm is. Owie.

Getting into a bra was a whole new kind of humbling experience. I did not know it was possible to simultaneously hold open the arm strap of a bra while using the same hand to lever my left elbow through said strap.

Now all I want to do is take a nap.


Gossamer1013 said...

I'm trying to remember how I dealt with the hair issue after having a bone spur removed from my shoulder...must have blocked that out cuz I got nothin'. Can you get away with washing your hair every other day, maybe with dry shampoos in between? Or (in your vast amounts of spare time, as if) dropping by your hairdresser three times a week for a wash and dry?

A co-worker who'd do that for you on break, maybe?

I do remember the feeling of accomplishment and joy that came with lifting that arm up to grasp the shower bar so that I could shave. Pure heaven.

Sending many wishes for healing your way.

messymimi said...

A broken shoulder causes similar problems, and I've watch my daughter cope with that lately. It isn't fun.

I hope you find the cause and get better very soon.

The HipCrip said...

Not sure if you can do this without pain, but this is how I've solved the problem -- it's served me well throughout my 33 year tenure as TheHipCrip.

In the shower, stand with the gimp arm side of your body next to the wall. Use your good arm to lift the gimp arm up to place your hand on top of your head.

At the same time, lean in toward the wall and prop the elbow from the bad arm against so the wall holds the bad arm up in place where you need it to be. With a little practice, your hand will stay on top of your head for as long as you need it to shampoo, apply clips and other hair accessories, etc. You'll even learn how to slightly shift your position in relation to the wall to move the hand on the bad arm to different places on your head without trigerring the death grip.

It's simply a matter of finding the right wall space and a little trial and error.

Hope you're planning on seeing a neurosurgeon soon, Jo -- you really need to get an MRI done to hopefully rule out spinal cord/thecal sac impingement at C5.

Anonymous said...

I put my bra on by fastening it in front, sliding it around to where it should be LOL and then using my good hand to slide one strap up. I use the antenna of an old cordless phone handset to slide up the other strap.

jwg said...

They make bras with front hooks. Found that out when I dislocated my shoulder.

Moose said...

I have a #*)*%ed up spine [hey, it's a technical term! :-)] and weakness on one side. Non-disabled people all but mock me (wait, some DO mock me) when I try to explain what it's like to try to put on your underwear when you cannot bend at all.

Me: I hate skirts
"Friend": Why are you wearing a skirt?
Me: It took 15 minutes to get the underwear on. After that I wasn't going to spend time trying to get pants on
"Friend": (thinks I'm funny)

So I have lots of sympathy for you, but I also gotta rudely point out that this is one of those Craptastic Things In Life that helps learn what the other side is like.

For you, however, I hope the craptasticness is short lived. Get better soon!