Thursday, 22 January 2009

My Left Arm

I'm sat here at the table wondering what to write. It's a dull, damp January day and it looks as though the sky has been sealed with a Tupperware lid and the south of England has been put in the fridge. It's cold but not freezing. Writing today is difficult. My left arm, the one attached to the hand that wields the stylus with which I write, is becoming increasingly weaker. Finding the exact position to place my elbow and wrist for the most effective leverage and fine motor control needed for manipulating the stylus is frustrating. But writing is nothing compared to the problems I'm having with eating.

There is food on the plate. The problem is getting it in to my mouth.

There is something horribly humiliating about not being able to feed yourself. I can manage certain types of food for a short while, until my arm tires too much. My right arm can take over briefly, but I am left-handed and my right arm has never been as strong as my left. The food simply tips from the fork before it reaches my mouth. Polly has had to help me in recent weeks, literally spoon feeding me all or part of my meal. She does this with typical good humour and grace but it is not a long term solution. The Occupational Therapist (O.T.) has suggested a Heath-Robinson type device that fits to the table called a Neater Eater, but frankly I'd rather starve. I think the solution, at least in part, lies with finding the right kind of cutlery, and so I am currently seeking a place to try out a range of knives and particularly forks in the hope of finding the exact right ones. How hard can that be?

The biggest challenge presented to Polly and myself in the face of my changing condition is normalising it for the children. We try to minimise any anxiety or frustration we may be feeling but it is impossible to hide such an obvious deterioration from them, and nor would we wish too. But we really don't want them worrying, they have enough on their plates. Matty is currently learning his lines to play Henry VIII in a play to be performed next month. I don't want their childhood blighted by anxiety about me. It is a tricky balancing act, being open and straightforward about how things are, and not giving them cause for undue concern.

Meanwhile, life goes on. The van has been repaired after its run in with someone's tow bar. The wheelchair ramp had been damaged badly and you can't weld aluminium. Fortunately the ingenious body shop man found away of bolting things back together. Also, Godfrey, my regular carer, is back after a period of sick leave. A new era with a degree of consistent homecare has begun.

And finally, for some reason Sam was saying the Lord's Prayer last night. Apparently it begins

Our Father, who aren't in heaven
Hello be your name.

Now, what's for tea? Soup served in a colander and eaten with a fork with any luck.