"If you learn from your suffering, and really come to understand the lesson you were taught, you might be able to help someone else who's now in the phase you may have just completed. Maybe that's what it's all about after all..."---Unknown
November 19, 2012. It's been one year since this cowgirl took a tumble and lost her left arm. I've learned many lessons over the last year...some good, some bad, but all valuable. I'd like to share them with you and hopefully you'll find at least one lesson of your own to take away from this. Just like the quote above says, "Maybe that's what it's all about after all..."
The questions I get most often (besides how it happened) are about my physical limitations. "How do you tie your shoes?" "Can you still drive?" AND...the ever popular..."How do you get your bra on?" To be honest, there isn't really much I can't do. Are things more difficult? Yes. Do they take longer? Definately! For the most part, however, I have either adapted or found tools to help me get things done or just avoided doing things that aren't as important. (Like tying my shoes...slip on sneakers, zip up or pull on boots)
Right after the accident it took me at least an hour to shower, put on makeup, and get dressed. Washing your hair isn't as easy with one hand...especially the opposite side of your head. Same goes for washing on my right side. Next time you shower try to wash your right arm with your right arm...fun huh? Now try shaving your underarm. Hardest part of brushing your teeth and putting on makeup? Opening all those tubes and bottles with twist off caps. The bra? Hook it, step into it, shimmy it up and over your butt without getting it all twisted and bursting into tears...that took a good 10 minutes. (Got a solution/tool now for that. I'll show you in a minute since I know you're dying to find out how I do it, lol) Getting dressed is OK as long as there are no tiny buttons. Biggest dressing pain? Straightening out pockets on my left side with my right hand. It's taken some adjusting and practice but I'm proud to say I can get ready in about 40 minutes now. Largely due to my bra angel...yes you heard me right...here's the most valuable tool I've found so far.
I could go on and on about the physical adjustments I've had to make...the list is endless. Here are just a few. Try cutting something when you can't cut it and hold it still at the same time. Lifting anything heavy is out...unless it has a handle. Try signing a reciept with one hand (and try to avoid decking the cashier who just watches you fumble with it). Try pushing a shopping cart with one hand without running into anything. Try crawling seductively up to your partner on hand (singular) and knees...not so sexy anymore...seriously try it. LOL.
Which brings me to the hardest adjustment for me and my biggest fear. Appearance. I know it's sounds shallow and I've been told over and over again "if they're a good person it won't matter". To be honest, it hasn't been a big issue like I thought it would be. I've been on more dates in the year since my accident than I was in the year prior. The adjustment needed isn't with the attitude of others as much as it is with my attitude towards myself. I am super aware that I'm missing something, and no matter how good I think I look, when I look in the mirror my focus shifts to my arm and it knocks my confidence down a notch. I'm terrified that the sight of my bare shoulder will cause someone I care about to run for the hills. Again, I've not found this to be true...but when a relationship doesn't work out I can't help but think to myself "they probably found a 'whole woman' they like better." I might be right, but more likely it's a problem within myself...I need to listen to what others tell me "you are amazing and beautiful" and BELIEVE IT.
I'll keep working on that one.
OK, that part was hard to write...had a few tears...but I got it out. Sometimes that's what you need to do in order to move on to happier things.
That's what I'll end with.
So far this post has been about what I've struggled with. I want to end with the good that's come out of it.
I've realized, yet again, (the first time was when Sara was going through treatments and passed away) how truly blessed I am to have a wonderfully supportive family and amazing friends. I have been through a lot over the last several years and I'm sure I would not have made it this far without you all. I've learned there is nothing you can't accomplish if you truly have passion and believe in what you're doing. I've learned that some of the simplest things can hold onto a large part of your heart (Coming home from the hospital and having my dogs run up to welcome me home). I've learned that there is good in everyone even though it's usually hidden away under a protective coating (Some of the toughest cookies were my kindest supporters). Finally, I was reminded of something I've known all along...when something like this happens to you...you need to share it. There may be someone out there who is feeling the exact same thing but unwilling or unable to express themselves like I do. If I can help one person by telling my story, in the end, it will all be worth it.
"Maybe that's what it's all about after all...."