My left hand’s free

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Updated Jul 31, 2017
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We survived the body part harvest of 2017. I’m having T-shirts made that say: “I’m not drunk, I’m just recovering from hand surgery.”

Here’s a note about scheduling, and remembering that two adults who are extremely active and independent probably don’t need to have simultaneous surgeries, especially if they’re counting on one another to help recover. The note says, “What the hell were you thinking?”

What I was thinking is we both needed maintenance that was going to require down time, and since I still have “nurse brain” from my prior occupation, I thought I was invincible and could perform feats of magic, like unscrewing child-proof pill bottle caps one-handed. So I saw no issue with scheduling my hand surgery six days after George’s hernia surgery. Of course, while I was at it, I went ahead and scheduled an appointment for George to have some “superficial” moles removed the day after my hand surgery, because, once again, nurse brain compels me to believe I’m still 25, and will never be sick or hurt enough to render me unable to take care of myself or my family.

When partners need to help each other recover from surgeries, it’s no small problem to have one hand placed out of service.When partners need to help each other recover from surgeries, it’s no small problem to have one hand placed out of service.

(Side note: I know from experience that floor nurses survive solely on cuss words and the belief that if they complete med pass (distributing medications on schedule), they will actually get to go pee. I have known 50-year veterans of the profession who are basically a giant walking bladder because they’ve never completed med pass in time to pee, but can’t die, because they have to pee. When people ask me what truckers and nurses have in common, this is my answer: Neither of them ever get to go pee when they need to.)

By the time we’d finished the last procedure, we collectively looked as if we’d experienced a scalpel tornado. George had bandages all over his torso, and one of the “superficial” moles on his back was apparently located directly beneath an internal organ, because it required an excavation closely resembling a volcanic crater. I’m pretty sure we lost a pillow case in it, when I finally got enough pain medicine in him to be able to roll over on his back, but I did get him comfy in bed, and sound asleep, before I realized I was alone in the house and all of the meds were in bottles with child-proof caps and I had only one hand.

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Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of friends and family close who would come help if we needed it. Our daughter would have come home from work immediately. But see, having people help requires asking them for it, and for some reason, having someone come across town to open my pill bottles was so ridiculous, I never even considered it.

What I did consider was securing the bottle with channel locks, so I could wedge them between my knees and easily remove the top with my left hand. This was a perfect plan, and worked great for the medication that wasn’t encased in a paper-like packets made of uranium. For some reason, nausea medication has become so extremely vile it needs to not only be contained in a child-proof bottle, it’s in “convenient foil packs” inside the bottle, just in case you didn’t have a hard enough time maneuvering the channel locks with your non-dominant hand, and need to poke a hole in your leg with a pair of scissors. I guess bleeding to death keeps you from being nauseous.

Of course, by the time I’d locked and fought with the second bottle, I’d knocked the first bottle over, and was attempting to get into the second bottle, hovering over a pile of pain pills on the kitchen floor while whisper-screaming at the dog, who is completely deaf and blind until something is dropped on the kitchen floor, to “GET AWAY,” but he’s deaf, so there was foot action required, which caused me to drop the channel locks. Good news is the sound scared the dog away and the top popped off, but when I saw the foil packs, I realized the quest wasn’t over.

After scooping my hairy pain pills back into what was left of the bottle, I just cried on the foil packs with my nausea medication in them until they dissolved and I licked residue off the uranium-clad packages I was unable to chew, blast, or poke through with only one hand. When our daughter got home from work, I was curled in the fetal position around a bag of Cheetos and a right-handed pair of scissors, which are about as useful to a left-handed person as boobs on a frog.

I have renewed respect for lefties, and a brand new respect for the fact that we’re not 25 anymore. I can’t bounce right up from hand surgery and conquer the world, and George can’t have a hernia the size of Tennessee repaired and be expected to be on the ball a week later. It happens, it’s better to just accept it and try to schedule things a little more sensibly next time.

All the stitches and tape come off Monday, and we should be ready to roll again very soon. We’re thankful for the trained hands of people who take great chunks of their lives to learn and perfect their skills enough to make ours better.

See y’all on the road.

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