The surgery was a breeze -- I was asleep and the surgeon did all the work. Then I started to be aware of what people have to give up when they can't use their primary hand, and the indignities that come with it. Today, finally, I took a shower all by myself. I still can't put on my own bra or tie my shoes or brush my hair. I can't pull my elbow far enough away from my side to put on deodorant or a sweater. (Hey, thanks, Beth, for the cape -- perfect!) Forget about driving, or cooking, sweeping, doing a load of laundry.
Imagine living with limitations like those for years on end. Imagine doing it without family to help, without health insurance or pain relief. Imagine trying to feed yourself without any money or cooking facilities, let alone the ability to hold a knife. Imagine a life where you feel less than human because you can't use your hands for anything -- to work or create or hold or touch another human.
I can't for one moment forget how very blessed and lucky I am. I have family taking care of me and being happy and willing to do it. I have excellent health care thanks to Medicare and the state of Oregon. I never go hungry. I never get cold. I always have a comfortable bed and a power reclining lift chair. (Thanks, Mom!) People try to compliment me on my attitude, but even that was given to me by a strong, loving family, wise friends, and support at every turn.
There's nothing special about me. I can go downtown trying to help some of the street people, and I fit right it. I have old clothes and a funny-looking jacket, fly-away hair and muddy shoes. I don't wear make-up or get manicures. I'm no different than the next person. But my circumstances are drastically different.
Every time a challenge rolls through my life, I remember how easy I have it, with my support and solutions and resources. Every time I feel the tiniest hint of inconvenience or pain, it's nothing compared to knowing that millions of people will never experience clean water. That the only money some women will ever earn comes from selling their bodies to strangers. That every week, somebody living on the streets in Portland dies. People just like me, except they were left behind and forgotten.
Knowing that so many horrors and tragedies take place every day, right here in my neighborhood, how could I ever be bothered by a little surgery?