Look, No Hands!
Last updated: February 2019
If someone had told me a few years ago that at some point I would no longer have the use of my arms and hands and would have to rely on new technology to operate my wheelchair and work on my computer, I would no doubt have said that that I'd rather die than live like that.
My right hand was dead
Well, the time when I did lose the use of both my hands came much sooner and more abruptly than expected. I had been relying on my – at least partially functioning – right hand for several years, and after it had grown weaker and less co-ordinated over several months last year, on 31 December, I found myself waking up with my right hand dead. No movement whatsoever, which came as a big shock!
What followed were weeks of therapy, frustration, and depression. I wasn't able to do anything, not even to move from one room to the next inside the house. It was a trying time.
I had two choices
Ironically, although I knew that there was technology that could help me become more independent again, I refused to get assessed for it, because I felt that it would be like giving up on my hand completely. But over the last several weeks and many floods of tears, I learned to accept that I had two choices: either stay like this, unable to move or do anything, or get equipment that could help me do things by myself again.
Earlier this week my wheelchair was fitted with a chin control, which was found to be the best solution for me.
To be able to operate my wheelchair again by myself has been an exhilarating experience!
Able to do things by myself again
I haven't yet ventured outside, as I don't feel comfortable with the new equipment yet and don't want to risk running anyone over. There have been a lot more dents and scratches in the walls and door frames over the past couple of days, as I haven't quite mastered the technology yet. But just to be able to move my chair without having to rely on someone else is such a great experience!
And within just a couple of days of getting the chin control, I also got a new tool that lets me operate my tablet with my mouth. Granted, it takes a lot of time and concentration to type something or navigate the tablet, and I need to rest a lot in between. But the sheer ability to do something by myself again, after being completely helpless for the past 6 weeks gives me a feeling that I thought I could never experience again.
The blessing of living in this technological era
I feel so blessed for living in this technological era, which enables the likes of us to do so many things that would have been impossible even a decade or two ago.
Yes, MS sucks, and so does losing the use of one's limbs. It's a daily struggle, I won't deny it, and not a single day goes by that I don't miss the days when I was more able and independent. But there has never been a better time to be stricken with this illness than now, as the technological advances of recent years enable me to do so much more than would ever have been possible in the past!
And I'm grateful for that.
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