“I had no shoes and I complained until I saw a man who had no feet.”
This old adage has been used many times by people in varying situations when they felt themselves caught up in self-pity. In other words, when you think you’re in a bad situation, look around and you will see someone in worse circumstance than you.
Another old adage says, “The other best thing besides the solution of problems is finding some humor in them.” Well, I had to look hard to find humor in my recent surgery for a torn rotator cuff in the right shoulder. If you think it is fun having your right arm out of commission for three weeks before surgery and three after before even therapy can begin — you’d have to be a little less than sane!
I think the good Lord looked down and said, “Hm,m,m, there’s one of my children who is too independent — too proud to ask for help from friends and family — I think she needs a lesson in humility.” And He, knowing my hidden weaknesses, allowed me to learn a much-needed lesson.
I have never minded asking for help for others and supplying help which I could give before asking anyone else. I have spent a good part of my life being a care-giver in the home and most always could figure out a way to get the job done by myself. But I must admit that this harness, held together with the strongest Velcro, has buffaloed me!
After the worst pain, I began experimenting with a way to get a sponge bath. Since the arm cannot swing loose, I tried everything I could think of to do the job myself and failed. That word, “FAILED,” has never been in my vocabulary, but it is NOW! My sister, Naomi Tune, drove about 15 miles down from Carbon Hill and helped with this chore.
Then I decided I was tired of sleeping in the clothes put on me in the morning, so while Harold was watching TV, I went into the bathroom and got a silk nightgown ready. I sat on the dressing table stool; put a towel into the drawer of the table and this gave me the exact height to release the arm from the complicated sling. I pulled the Velcro waist fastener loose with my left hand, and gently worked off my day clothes. Then I worked the gown sleeve over the arm resting in the drawer, wiggled my way over my head, got my left arm though and laughed with glee because now all I had to do was carefully get that arm back in the harness. That is where I failed again! The loose Velcro caught in the soft silk and bunched up tight. With only one hand, I couldn’t get it loose. I had to go to the den and say, “Please help me.” This may sound like a small thing and a short time, but I just about missed the Atlanta Braves’ game against the Cincinnati Reds.
Eating is another story. Harold is a great cook and put appetizing meals on the table. He cuts my food into bite-sized pieces and arranged my salad bowl and tea or coffee to my left. But have you ever tried to run food around your plate to pick up left-handed when you couldn’t use your bread as a pusher? At times, I placed the knife, which is heavier, on the edge of the plate and pushed the food against it in order to pick it up for eating. Harold was very helpful because he had this same surgery two years ago. Dr. Wouters probably thinks we take turns shoving one another causing the falls which result in a torn muscle. He did both of our surgeries.
One of the places no one likes to mention is the inner part of the bathroom. Did you ever notice that the toilet tissue is often on the back wall to the right? Did you ever try rolling with your clumsy hand and stop before you end up like the commercial with the two cats unrolling an entire roll on the floor? I felt like the first cave man when he chiseled the wheel after I found I could swivel around and stop that roll with my right knee. I finally found that “humor” in the solution of a problem.
Every woman will know what I mean when I say that I could not wait to get my hair washed. I couldn’t dress in street clothes, so what to do? After general anesthesia, the sweats, and the entire “hullabaloo,” I felt like “Gravel Gertie,” the old comic strip character with wild hair. Well, my cousin, Ruby Atkins Alexander, solved that. She came down to my house, shampooed, dried, and styled my hair. I called her the next day and told her I looked so pretty that I kissed myself in the mirror! She got a big laugh out of that.
After this experience, I think I could gain some patience by rereading the fable about the turtle and the hare. Instead, I’ll remember the adage: “Knowledge is our awareness that fire will burn; wisdom is remembering the blister.” I hope I “remember the blister,” and when I have a friend or family member in this shape, I will get several rolls of toilet tissue, roll off in certain amounts, fold in stacks, place in a shoe box, and tie a ribbon on it. This I will place on the proper side in the proper room when I go to visit.