Saturday, November 5, 2011

Getting Better vs. Getting It Done

I manage three household tasks: Washing and putting away dishes, washing and folding laundry, shopping and putting away groceries. I do these things one-handed, which means I get things done only slightly faster than Congress. Imagine moving wet laundry from washer to dryer with one hand; moving dishes from rack to cupboards with one hand; carrying grocery bags from car to house one bag at a time.

The BIGGER problem is that I should be using my injured hand to assist with these tasks because that is the only way to retrain it. I can't expect that just because I improve at my formal hand exercises, I'll be able to grasp a T-shirt and fold it, or drop silverware into the correct slot in a drawer. I am going to have to practice these things repeatedly. However, when I attempt to do these things with my affected hand I often get so frustrated I default to using the good hand so I can get the job done.

It reminds me of my working days as a manager trying to implement an improved business process at the same time that daily business needed attending to. How can a business slow down productivity now for the sake of developing a system that allows it to become more efficient later?

Of course the Big Boss always wants both: Do it now and do it better. And in this case, I am the Big Boss. Sigh. Too bad I can't just fire myself and bring in somebody younger.


  1. You have such high expectations for walking up steps that I was surprised you have such low expectations for your hemiplegic hand. As a stroke survivor I learned to modify the unrealistic expectations I had as an OT. Would you consider using your hemiplegic hand two times before you switch to the one-handed solution? The one time I put my foot down about using my hemiplegic hand is when I'm cooking. Hot burners wait for no one and since I live alone there is no "Honey do" at my house when my hemiplegic hand is too slow.

  2. I use a small folding cart (13" wide x 11.5" deep) to transport my groceries from my car to my front steps. It saves so much energy! There is a big range of prices so be careful if you Google folding cart.

  3. I struggle with this issue *all* the time.

  4. I think this is something we all fall times. I've gotten so efficient with my right hand...I don't even realize I'm not using my left, til someone points it out. I too need to slow down to make both sides work. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. I have purposely slowed down to use my left hand for holding toothpaste and turning faucets on/off. It may be only a couple of times a day but it does accumulate. And its not proven by any research except for common sense that it will eventually work.

  6. I'm curious if a simple knitting pattern would be helpful. Not being a knitter, I can't say for sure how much movement is required. My wife might know.

  7. Okay, DW says you can work with knitting needles and the left hand doesn't move much, but it is fine motor control and there is some use of the index finger.

    There's also kumihimo which is a braiding kind of thing with a circular tool.

    She has books on all of this and also knitting needles and yarn. Give a holler if you'd like a lesson or two.

  8. I figured out how to crochet with one hand so not that much weak hand exercise that way. It is sure easier with two hands.

    Rebecca makes a good point about thinking safety first.(not messing around with hot burners) Practice more on things that can't hurt you. I broke most of the glassware in my house trying to load the dishwasher and got some bad cuts before husband swapped out my nice stuff for plastic. :(

  9. Hi Marcel,
    I'm so glad you're stuck with yourself- help your Big Boss gain some compassion and patience. I just immersed myself in your inspiring and beautifully written work. How wonderful to know you have such great, balcony people working with you. And yes, you are an inspiration, not only to Teresa. Every time I start to write something new, I come to your blog and drink in positive energy, firm persistence based on faith, and grand generosity and gratitude.

    Wish I could have been there on Sat. to see your triumphant stair climb!
    I'll e-mail you with other news

    Thank you, thank you for sharing your progress, thoughts and writing,