Have you ever broken an arm or leg? Have you considered that this is what a person with a disability feels like every day?
Two weeks ago, while trying to put sand on my front steps, the ice decided to fight back and grabbed me by my boots, throwing me face first down the steps. Can you see that battle in your minds? It was not pretty.
Maybe it’s all my padding, but despite all the bruising on my left palm (thumb side), I didn’t break any bones in my hand or the shaft of the radial bone, which would have been called a Colle’s fracture. I actually thought I had gotten off free. That is until I was at Target 15 minutes later and realized that my left elbow was getting more and more swollen and sore to move.
Fast forward to three hours later, where I am leaving the ER with an ace wrap and sling with a radial head fracture of my left elbow. I avoided the fiberglass splint since I was heading out on an airplane in two days, but was concerned that I would end up with a cast when I got back and saw the orthopedist. Driving home with my left arm in a sling and my elbow immobilized was definitely an experience – and not one I would wish on others.
I survived the out-of-town trip and didn’t end up with a cast, thank heavens. But I have definitely gained even more respect for individuals with disorders and disabilities. I am very left hand/leg dominant. God only provided me with a right arm/hand to balance out my body. Trying to limit the use of my left hand and arm has been extremely hard – and messy! I have known for decades to not try to pour or carry liquids with my right hand. Trying now to train it has not been pretty. Many paper towel sheets have lost their lives cleaning up my messes. Handwriting while trying not to turn my arm up (like asking for money) has led to a very unusual pen grip. Even typing is more awkward – I never knew how many parts of my left forearm were used in typing and writing. Oh, did I tell you I also had a bleed into the tendon on my forearm which created a great deal of swelling and pain with movement?
Now imagine that I had to do this for the rest of my life? I am already very irritable at my limitations and somewhat jealous of the more able-bodied. But I know that I will get better over time (I can ditch the sling in 2-3 weeks). Individuals who have a neurologic reason for their incoordination need intense therapy to try to develop more coordination. But most people don’t recognize it as a neurologic/developmental issue. They think the child is being lazy, manipulative, or not smart. No wonder they blow up at times!
So the next time you see someone being uncoordinated or having poor handwriting, find a reason to compliment them, to help them, and just appreciate that you were lucky enough to have this skill.