I adjust to being my own left-hand man

The Southerner

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BY STEVE TERRY

All it took was a simple slip on a slick field, followed by a nasty fall, to put me in a hospital bed. My collarbone was in one more piece than I’d like it to be, and the doctor said, after examining my X-rays, I might be in a sling until Christmas. The initial worry about the status of my right shoulder was replaced with the challenge of getting through the next month and a half without the use of my right arm. How hard could it be?

The first day was the worst. They say that you never realize how much you needed something until you have lost it. I had never fully appreciated this truth until I tried to do the first simple task after breaking my collarbone: taking off my hospital gown, which I had worn home, and replacing it with a shirt that was slightly more representative of this millennium. After a couple minutes of attempting to get into a T-shirt, I realized that the task was futile, and surrendered to the idea of wearing button-down shirts for the next month. The failed mission took all of five minutes and sent my shoulder into spasms.

It was daunting enough to fall behind in all of my classes, but doing so while simultaneously losing the ability to write was even more overwhelming. I gave up trying to learn to write with my left hand after less than a day, and was then faced with a predicament: How will I take notes? How will I do any work? What happens if I have an exam?

It was essential that I answer these questions immediately. I ended up overcoming my injury in a combination of ways that at the time didn’t seem too groundbreaking. My friends take notes; I can look at theirs, and I figured I could do most of my work myself on the computer. As for tests… well I just hoped that I wouldn’t have any.

My modification proceeded smoothly with the exception of AP physics, where my computer was rendered useless. You just can’t type math one-handed as quickly as Mr. Cramer speaks it. I was never really sure what to do about that class, so I started falling behind in the homework, confident that I’d be able to make catch up later.

Then we had a quiz.

Even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to write with my right hand, to make that moment, right then and there, a rite of passage, I decided I would be all right, to write with my right hand. It was easy enough; it didn’t hurt my shoulder and allowed me to at least be able to get the quiz done on time. That was the start of my “cheating” on my rehabilitation, using my arm when I shouldn’t have.

I quickly started doing all of my calculus work with my right hand again, and for some reason I though it would be a good idea to play guitar again. This quickly led to two-handed piano. Over the Thanksgiving break, I even played my share of drums, all the while not suspecting the consequences.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I felt my shoulder, which had been healing quite nicely, and noticed that it was jutting out of my body about an inch more than it should have. Panicked at the thought of potential surgery, I ceased all use of my right arm for the next three days, and to my astonishment (and relief), my shoulder slowly moved back into place.

As I hopefully come to the end of my days of being a cripple, I can’t help but look back and think about how hard it has been adjusting to this, but then I realize that, at this point, it will be even weirder adjusting to regaining full use my right arm again. That doesn’t mean I don’t begrudge the mountain of physics homework I have to make up, or the fact that I haven’t been able to drive for the past month, but it has certainly been a learning experience—adjusting to Grady with one arm.

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