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Views from the Veranda - Learn to use that useless left hand

Last Wednesday, which I'm sure must have been in April or May, I had carpel tunnel surgery on my right hand/wrist. It is important to note that I am right-handed. Aside from the function of my left hand to keep my body balanced, it serves little purpose and could just as well have been given to someone else. I cannot use it to write, eat, type or any other of the many functions our hands do in a normal day. I am typing this column with the index finger of my right hand which, thankfully, is sticking out of the bandages. For the first time, I appreciate my editor's constant reminder to “be brief.”

Now, the surgery went well. Doctor Haslam (no relation to our governor) was great, and so was the outstanding medical facility at Centennial. I had no pain and the effects of the anesthesia were minimal. I was out in less than three hours.

Then, I encountered the bandages from fingers to almost my elbow. I stopped to eat on the way home and quickly received my first indication of things to come. I ordered vegetable soup that is normally very good at the restaurant. I wouldn't know about that day. I didn't get enough of it to my mouth to determine the taste. I was successful in fairly evenly distributing the peas, carrots and other vegetables from my chin to my lap. And,

it was hot. Rest easy, folks at Cracker Barrel, I'm not like the crazy woman who sued McDonalds because she spilled hot coffee on her.

Thinking that, perhaps, I could better manage something more solid than soup with my left hand, I tried the country steak with mashed potatoes and gravy. I quickly realized that cutting the steak was impossible. Unable to maintain any semblance of self respect and driven by advancing hunger pains, I picked up the entire piece of steak and after applying a coat of brown gravy to both sides of my face, I was able to get a bite or two to my mouth. The mashed potatoes were a different matter. With the first and only bite, the potatoes went up my nose as the fork punctured my upper lip. A lady at the next table made no effort to hide her disgust so I offered her a bite.

By the time I left the restaurant and in my efforts to find something I could get to my mouth, I spent more than $30, which is a lot for one person at the Cracker Barrel. I'm sure they would have paid me that much to leave sooner.

My instructions from my doctor included showering with my right hand enclosed in a plastic trash bag to keep water from the bandages. I managed the bag nicely. The shower was a different experience. To get an idea, the next time you shower, try washing the upper left side of your body with only your left hand. With my head under the shower, I poured about a quart of shampoo on top of my head and, 20 minutes later after finally getting it all rinsed out, I repeated the process with conditioner. I don't remember getting as far as my feet. I've gained a whole new appreciation for the idea of bathing once a week on Saturday night whether you need it or not.

I could go on and on with all the problems I have encountered in the last few days following surgery. But, on top of them, I don't need ugly calls and emails from my editor. I guess I could best describe the after effects of hand surgery by comparing it to a tree climber without legs. By way of advice, if you are not too old to learn new tricks, start using your left hand to get some experience at doing some of the things you normally do with the right hand You never know when it may come in handy.

It is too early to tell whether the surgery will correct the problems with the hand I was having but, if not, I'm still glad I had it. I've already lost 10 pounds.


From the veranda, y'all have a good day.

Jerry Sailors is a columnist and public speaker.

He can be contacted at

Posted on: 9/24/2012


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