What’s the opposite of ambidexterity? Whatever it is, it’s got my name written all over it. I’m the most single-mindedly right handed person I know, using my left hand only for things that take two hands, or to balance things I’m doing with my right hand. Oh, and I mouse left-handed, a habit I picked up when my right shoulder started to hurt.
And so, thanks to a tear in the rotator cuff of that shoulder, today will be the last day I’m allowed to use my right hand for the foreseeable future. Tomorrow I’m having rotator cuff surgery, after which, my whole world will change for quite some time. With a surgery like this one, it’s good to take the long view. Very long. It apparently takes a year to get fully back to normal after this operation. For me, that’s way too long a view, I can’t really fathom it. I’ve heard that it will take six months before I can put my right hand on top of my head. It’s a good thing my hair parts naturally, but that’s still a hard chunk of time to swallow.
It will be three months before I’m allowed to drive. Now we’re talking a timespan I can really imagine, and what I imagine is that I’m going to hate having to be driven everywhere like a little kid, even by a willing chauffeur like Shel. Worse, oh much worse, it will be three months before I can use my right hand to cook. I won’t be able to hold a knife, since if I tried to do that with my left hand mayhem and bloodshed would surely ensue. No stirring the pot with one hand while sprinkling in salt with the other. No whipping cream with a whisk and bowl. No cracking walnuts and picking out the meat. No peeling garlic. No lifting heavy clay pots into and out of the oven, one of life’s most satisfying kitchen moments.
Not to mention sundry other indignities. No pulling on a pullover sweater. No picking up cats as they stroll by the right hand side of my chair. No fastening my bra. No trailing my hand along the banister as I walk down the stairs.
And then there’s the six week time frame. Right arm in a sling day and night, no using it, NO exceptions. Which means no typing with it. Although a quick Google search reveals at least a page of instructional videos and tips for one-handed typing, so maybe I’ll acquire a new skill. No getting myself dressed, which means that even though I’ve invested in a mini-wardrobe of clothes that button and zip up the front, I’ll have to stand like a doll while Shel puts them on me. That might sound romantic for about 30 seconds, but I imagine the thrill will wear off rather quickly. No cutting up my own food. No sleeping in our bed with Beppo curled up next to my pillow, I’ll be bedding down in a recliner only. Stuff like that. Virtually no normal life.
Like any sensible person, I’ve been practicing doing things left handed. Want to play along? Just go into the bathroom tomorrow morning and do every single thing with only your non-dominant hand. Some of the simplest-seeming things turn out to be extremely difficult. I won’t mention what they are, I’ll let you be surprised.
So today’s the last day for me to put up some holiday decorations, even though it’s so early. The last day to cook up a huge pot of soup because I think that for the next week it’s going to be all pain and narcotics, and soup might be all I can manage. The last day to go secret Christmas shopping, sew the button on my favorite green sweater, cook up some pork cheeks and lamb shanks to add to the collection of dinners banked in my freezer. The last day to take pictures with the Nikon for I don’t know how long, although I think I might be able to manage the little Canon with just one hand. The last day to cut my toenails. Jeepers.
And then, inevitably, tomorrow will be the first day of my new left-handed life. Possibly I’ll become a whole new person, as I use different parts of my brain for virtually every task. Except mousing. At least that one thing will be comfortingly familiar. And I’ll be talking to you again soon. I just hope I won’t be talking out of the other side of my mouth.