Most – like the number of times I trip or how quickly I wear out the left souls of my shoes, I muddle through. But the most serious after effects have lifelong consequences that I sometimes solve with mid twentieth century technologies.
My stroke was in my lower mid right brain, in an area that governs coordination of my dominant left hand. Unfortunately for me, I am a dominant left handed person and can’t be switched. I spent my first year post stroke trying to become right handed.
My physiatrist ( aka a stroke rhab doctor)and rehab specialists went as far as taping my left hand to my side with incredibly expensive Japanese sports tape. My rehab team spent hours playing catch with me. In the fullness of time, I was able to catch a ball with my right hand, but throwing it back accurately as a righty is still beyond my abilities.
As some sort of fiendish test, the rehab team would hand me a pen or a pencil and ask me to sign something. That’s when the fun would begin. My left hand would instinctively struggle out of its sticky swath and grab the pen. I reminded myself of Dr. Strangelove.
For whatever reason, my personal identity seems to be locked in synch with my signature and no matter how hard I try, that signature needs to be signed with my left hand. It’s very strange. I spent a long time thinking of strategies that would let me recapture my identity/signature. Thr light bulb over my head switched on at the DMV about eight months post stroke. I put the form on the clipboard and clutching the pen stationary in my left hand, I moved the clipboard to sign my name. it worked!
Although technologies like electronic banking helps me deal with routine financial transactions, I still need to write one or two checks a month. And my handwriting was so bad the banks would kik the checks back to me.
The expense of computerized check writing and the confluene with a sudden need to clean out my garage resulted in one of the best possible solutions to my stroke-induced problem. Pawing through the detritus of a near 40 year reporting career I found what I needed—a carefully packed 45-yearold Hermes 3000 portable type writer in its original case
Reuniting with my sea foam green Hermes reconnected me with writing as a highly personal tactile experience. The $75 tune up at a San Diego typewriter repair shop brought her back to tippy top form and included a new ribbon. So now when I need to cut a check I roll the check under the Hermes’ platen and type it out. The bank doesn’t return my checks anymore and I feel like I’ve overcome another stumbling block on my road to recovery.
Sometimes technology works, sometimes you need to go “totally old school” to solve a problem.
But what I never ever do is give up. Jim Forbes—8/12/2012.