Laguna Honda Hospital Resident

Laguna Honda Hospital Resident

Monday, May 26, 2014


I’ve Been Told It Is

Like, ‘’Of Mice + Men.’'


---I mentioned to one of the Zen Volunteers about the situation with my hands. I had a stroke that left me with a movement disorder on my right side. Most stroke survivors have a paralysis of sorts on one side or the other. My stroke hit on my right-side. 1% of the population that have a stroke follow with a movement disorder. Most have a paralysis.

---I was, also, born missing four fingers on my left-hand. This has left me in a bit of a quandary. I’d like to say that because of all the wonderful folks at Laguna Honda Hospital…life is very doable at the hospital, itself. There are a few things on my plate that I have an impossible time with, but with unwavering kindness…things get done at LHH.

---I would like to speak about my using utensils at mealtimes. This was difficult for me. It seemed I was at the end of enjoying anything I would take by mouth. At first, I was fed by a stomach tube bypassing the throat. I had a swallowing problem, and could easily swallow into the lungs causing aspiration and being unable to breathe, choking. As a matter-of-fact...I had a code blue at onetime.

---Eventually, I overcame this. I was listed as a feeder, meaning that the nurses would use the knife, spoon + fork for me and I’d be fed much like a baby is fed. The stroke is responsible for my being unable to walk and my double-vision (my balance is off)...and, NOW this! I will digress a bit…here.

---I will speak of my relationship with my own left-hand. There is a only a thumb there and I am unable to hold a knife, spoon or fork. I am NOT able to hold much of anything with my left-hand. There is NOTHING opposable and so I am unable to clasp things.

---My right-hand shakes and moves continuously with the fingers looking like a bug on its back when I hold it palm up. As I said, the nurses fill in any needs that may arise with my being in this condition.

---''Of Mice and Men'' - a story written by John Steinbeck chronicling a slow-witted man helping another man unable to go it alone. My right-hand had once been able to do many things and was quite good at most things I’ve tried. My left-hand seemed to be a real detriment and UNABLE to pull its weight in the scope of things. Psychologically…I was unable to accept the condition of my left-hand and kept it hidden as my way of dealing with it. I will not go into much more detail, here. My right-hand was very good and my good hand. My left-hand was my bad hand.

---It resembles Steinbeck’s book more in that my left-hand has come to the aid of my right-hand and they NOW work as a team. (The resemblance to Steinbeck begins and ends there, in my opinion.) It is more like a PBS special. The irony that my left-hand is now my GOOD hand is NOT lost on me.

---I am able to hold the utensils in my right-hand…due to the fingers that are there. Because of the movement disorder I am unable (and not advised) to try to put the utensil into my mouth due to spasmosdic movement increasing the chance of poking my eyes or nose or somewhere else it may not belong. But...with the guidance of the left the probability is near zero.

---My left-hand is able to guide my right-hand and (through the right amount of applied pressure) is able to make my right-hand be much more functional than it would otherwise be. I can’t eat with either hand, but together (teamwork) they can NOW do the job.

---The lesson to be learned, probably, is NOT much different than the lesson that John Steinbeck had in mind. Individually, we may not be able to pull all the strings, but, since we are ALL in this, together…working together and helping one another where necessary, we seem to produce more than we can alone.

---This is something that I learned in theory years ago, but, never really put into practice. I was too stubborn and self-reliant to cry ‘uncle’ at different times when I, probably, should have. I never thought when it finally happened…my left-hand would be the one to answer the call. It is one of those situations that wouldn’t have been predicted in a million years…at least by me, anyway. My left-hand HELPING my right. Go figure!

---It only resembles ''Of Mice and Men'' in the fact that it champions working together.

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