This year, on our National Day of Thanks, I would like to express my gratitude for having hands.
We typically don’t thank our body parts because they seldom leave us. Most of us have not experienced unfortunate accidents or suffered the horrible consequences of war; tragic events which might cause us to lose a limb.
Most of us take our fingers and hands and elbows and arms and shoulders, the working tools of our bounty, for granted.
But this year I am especially thankful for my hand, which I recently misplaced and desperately want back. Oh I didn’t lose it or leave it behind somewhere. If I did I would have called it because it would probably have been holding my cell phone.
No, I had a relatively minor surgical procedure performed which has rendered my dominant hand pretty much useless over the holidays. I know how much work preparing a Thanksgiving meal can be, so this seemed like the perfect time to go one-handed and let everyone else do the work. Including cutting my food and feeding me.
I am not too popular with my family right now.
When I came out of surgery last week my right hand was entombed in a large plaster football. I could have tossed it around if it wasn’t attached to my arm. At least I think it was attached to my arm. I couldn’t feel a thing below my shoulder.
They use something called a nerve block which pretty much leaves the appendage, in this case my entire right arm, with all of the sensation and muscle tone of a marionette string. I literally had a ball and chain hanging from my shoulder. I had to cradle my forearm like firewood to prevent the heavy burled nub that was my hand from swinging uncontrollably by my side and knocking things off the table.
I couldn’t even dress myself. When I was ready to leave the surgery center the kind nursing aides had to slip on my shirt and trousers. I couldn’t zip my fly.
And there are limits to what I will ask a nurse to do.
Fortunately I had the foresight to wear a baggy pair of cargo pants with copious pockets which I left-loaded with keys and books and cell phones and wallets so that I could easily retrieve them at will with my left hand.
They suspended my useless hand in an ill-fitting sling, plunked me in a wheelchair, and wheeled me out to an awaiting ride home with post-op instructions and a blue prescription order wedged tenuously between my left thumb and left forefinger.
It was at the pharmacy fifteen minutes later that I seriously began to long for my missing hand. As I made my way through the store I discovered that along with my fly, my belt had never been properly secured. And now the mass of junk I had squirreled away in my left pant pockets was letting gravity do its work.
My baggy pants slowly started sliding over my hips.
With the prescription still clutched awkwardly in my good hand I hitched up my baggy trousers securing them back to a safe and uncompromising position. Unfortunately I dropped the prescription.
As I bent over to pick it up my right hand cascaded out of the loose sling and, like a wrecking ball, crashed into a display rack knocking over a carefully stacked pyramid of Jergens lotion to the floor. It probably hurt my hand but I had know way of knowing.
By pure reflex I let go of my belt, protectively retrieved and cradled my bandaged right forearm, and stood up.
At which point my pants started to fall down.
I quickly snapped my left elbow down hard against my falling pants temporarily keeping them from declining to a place where I would be arrested.
I now had the prescription wedged loosely between my left fingers while my left hand held my right hand in place and my hunched left elbow awkwardly pressed my trousers against my hip to keep them up.
I looked like a walking Twister disaster.
Nevertheless I waddled to the counter, keeping my stance as wide as possible in case my pants decided to make a run for it, and stood in line.
“Can I help you?” asked the pharmacist.
She looked at me like I was a homeless pilgrim.
“I guess that depends whether you mind if my pants fall down,” was all I could think of to say.
She quickly sized up the situation, reached over the counter, snatched the blue prescription from between my fingers and left me standing precariously at the counter as she furiously did what she could to get me out of the store.
“How would you like to pay for this?” she asked when she returned.
My left elbow was getting tired and I contemplated the wallet buried deep within one of my pockets.
This holiday I am also thankful for charge accounts at CVS.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!