Monday, December 9, 2013

My Radial Nerve Palsy Experience Part 2

Continuing from my first post regarding my Radial Nerve Palsy hand injury last year. This post will tackle my initial reaction and difficulties given the lack of motor control of my right hand.

All of a sudden, everything I did at home was extremely difficult.

Like the title above states, everything that I needed or wanted to do at home was extremely difficult. I was right handed. So you can imagine how hard it was for me to try to do even the simplest of tasks without the use of my right hand. Using a mouse and keyboard on my PC all of a sudden proved for be a challenge. I couldn't press down on the mouse buttons with my right hand, let alone move the mouse to navigate the mouse cursor onscreen. I tried to train myself to use the mouse with my left hand. I initially was only typing at a very sluggish pace with my left hand.

Washing the dishes was close to impossible. My initial attempts to wash the dishes resulted in dropping quite a few plates and glasses. Good thing my plates were plastic. But my glasses unfortunately weren't. Dropping a fork on my foot was funny. Dropping a knife on my foot wasn't as amusing.

Dressing up was a long frustrating process. I would often get stuck with a shirt halfway over my head. Putting on pants with one hand was a struggle in its own right.

Don't even ask about cooking at home. That was just plainly impossible and I burned myself a few times by just trying to fry. I also stopped attempting to cook altogether just to avoid having to toil with washing the dishes after.

Gaming was dead.

I am both a PC and video game console gamer. And given my hand injury, I essentially couldn't play any game on a PC or console. My inability to use a keyboard/mouse with my right hand screamed I couldn't play any games that required quick actions. There was no way to use a PS3 controller one-handed either. I couldn't use games as a means of escape to deal with life anymore. And that was very saddening for me.

Gigs were dead. Music became less of a source of happiness.

I am a percussionist in several bands in the local scene. Full use of both your hands is important regardless of what instrument you play. It was sad to explain my condition to all my bandmates. Missing gigs was heart breaking. My bandmates would invite me to watch the gigs even though I couldn't join them onstage. But most of the time, I opted not to watch because it would just make me even more sad than I already was. I did watch one of my bands' gigs once (Jack Versus the Crab). But when my bandmates started playing onstage, my eyes started tearing. I couldn't really bare to go through that again.

The weeks prior to my right hand getting injured, I was gearing up to have my first solo handpan gig. I wrote a few handpan compositions by then and have been practicing. But unfortunately, even that had to be shelved. So my debut as the first and only handpan player for the Philippines wasn't going to happen any time soon. I wanted to be the first. And given that I had no idea if and when my right hand was going to recover. I started to see that dream of mine slipping away.

I would play my congas, bongos, or even my handpans when I was down. The inability to do so during my hand injury period was especially heart-breaking. There were countless situations where I attempted to use my right hand, only to fail miserably. At times, even wounded or bruised myself in the attempt. Many nights were spent crying myself to sleep. I realize that my reaction is essentially like a whining baby. I knew that there are many people in the world that have a permanent disability and have learnt to live around it. I was knew at being disabled (albeit temporary disability). My apologies to anyone who feels insulted with my rather immature reaction back then.

However, I did try to find ways to work around the difficulties. Most centered around forcing myself to use to my left hand more. It felt akward. But it's not like I had a choice. I researched on the net how to do simple things like how to put on a shirt or wash the dishes one-handed. But the most prominent and useful tool I used was my iPad.

My iPad saved me at work.

At the time, I was the Director of Operations for a company called RenditionDigital. After taking some time off and realizing that I wasn't going to recovery from my injury any time soon, I had go back to work. I was lucky that I had a managerial job. Even though I couldn't use my laptop to work, I used my iPad to work instead. I managed to do all my work emails through my iPad. My right hand was usually in a brace. And it was easier to poke at a touchscreen with both hands compared to typing on a keyboard. It proved quite a challenge to work on Excel spreadsheets on my iPad. But I managed somehow. I would have to pull out my laptop at times anyway when editing spreadsheets proved far too difficult on my iPad. But generally, I was able to do my work just fine.

My physical therapy sessions we're scheduled in the morning and I would walk to the office from Makati Med right after. So there was at least an equilibrium reached between my medical needs and work.

My iPad saved me at home.

I started looking for apps that would help me still use my PC a little easier than toiling with my mouse and keyboard with my left hand. I found an app on the AppStore called WifiRemoteHD. This allowed me to control my PC from my iPad. Essentially giving my PC touchscreen functionality. The app was not all that pretty by any standard. But it did was it was suppose to do. And I was happy with that. It even had remote controls for certain media players like VLC. So I could at least watch anime, TV series, or movies that I've downloaded without having to get up and use my mouse.

There were iOS app equivalents of all the SNS sites I frequent. So at least I could check Facebook or post a tweet from my iPad, no problem. Slow. But at least I could. I also had all the same apps on my iPhone as well. So I was able to function decently enough just wielding my iPhone and iPad.

Gaming and music eventually also remained as a sources of happiness because of my iPad as well. I will get into that on the next blog post.


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