Saturday, August 29, 2009

Left Handed Attitude

Every time I try to write, shampoo my hair, brush my teeth or eat, I need to do an attitude check.

I am right handed. Ironically, the PD affects only my right far. I know the left is waiting for its debut in the PD pantomime. Over the 3+ years since my diagnosis (and second opinion..."yup, positively Parkinson's"), I have progressively lost the dexterity and agility of my right hand. It's not useless. It just refuses to fluidly form the letters on the page. At best I print in wobbly letters because writing is impossible and even my signature is different each time (the bank calls regularly).

In the shower my right hand stays stubbornly in one place atop my head as my left hand is forced to do all the work rubbing the shampoo into my hair. This results in an odd sensation as I stand there with one hand foolishly poised to act but remaining motionless.

Right-handed teeth brushing works only if I get the tempo right, and then keep it that way (although I expect that when I see the dental hygienist she may not give me any prize for efficiency).

And eating is almost entirely a left-handed affair, lest I sprinkle soup, salad or spaghetti sauce all over me, the table and anyone who sits too close...although meals would take longer and this might assist my diet by limiting intake.

Even typing this entry is mostly a left-handed endeavour (with the right hand joining in on occasion with a halting stab at the supposedly correct key). Usually I use voice-recognition software (Dragon Naturally Speaking) to ease the frustration of what I need to do daily at work.

This brings me to 'attitude'. My initial response to this forced, late in life learning to be a southpaw is utter frustration (euphemism for anger). Inside I am saying, "I hate this! I used to be able to do this without thinking. Now I am a klutz." But slowly (sometimes at the tortoise speed of westbound traffic on the Port Mann Bridge at 7 AM), I remember that I am still able to function independently. If I can't get a grip (so to speak) on the small stuff now, I will end up an angry old man lashing out at those that are around to help me. That is not me, or at least it has never been me. And it is certainly not who I want to become.

Although I disagree with some of her New Age conclusions, Byron Katie's book, "Loving What Is" has some very good points to think about. She says, "It's not the problem that causes our suffering; it's our thinking about the problem." In other words, it is not my PD, it is the way I think about it that is the cause of my frustration. Maybe this sounds a little twisted, but if that is not true, how can I avoid getting increasingly angry as my right hand becomes increasingly inept?

So today, and every day, as I relegate tasks to my now stronger more capable left hand, I remember to be thankful. I have two hands. If one does not work perfectly, at least I can tie shoelaces, drive my motorcycle, pick up my grandson, shake hands firmly, and hold my wife's hand as we walk. Tomorrow will bring what it may. Life, just as it is a God-given gift with daily dividends, also takes away something every day. We cannot be happy if we resent the latter, for it is a, dare I say, necessary part of living.

For me, learning a left handed attitude is a key to being positively Parkinson's.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob
    I love your blog and I'm going to pass your email along to all the other staff, plus Carmen, who I think will be quite interested. Re your comment about the 'new age' writer, what she says it not new age at all: There is a Greek phylosopher named Epictitus who said that our lives aren't shaped by events but rather by our response to the events. But regardless of who said it first, it makes total sense and this view has inserted itself into the primary concepts of what we now know as cognitive therapy. Then there's always "The Secret" which I have read (more than once actually). Some great points, and some really horrible ones so I stick to about l/2 of the material and ignore the rest. Actually, this seems like a wise approach to most thing!
    It was great to see you the other day. You look healthier than most of the other people on the street!
    See you on Oct 3. I'll call you ahead of time to chat about it.
    Robbin Jeffereys