Life is full of little difficulties when one has only one fully functional arm. I have a steadily increasing appreciation of the problems facing the metaphorical one-armed paperhanger.
Tasks such as hanging a calendar, putting things in high cupboards, cleaning out an aquarium, showering, scrubbing oneself and towelling, applying deodorant, putting on socks and shoes, tying shoelaces, putting pillow cases onto pillows, making the bed, hanging laundry, peeling potatoes, carrying two cups of coffee at once, all test one’s ingenuity and adaptability in some way. The truly disabled have my greatest admiration.
Today I was wrestling with a tight lid on a 1.5 litre bottle of diet lemon lime and bitters. Holding it in my weak left hand as I tried to remove the lid with my right, I lost my grip just as the lid came free. It fell to the floor, bounced and shot a stream of foaming orange liquid across the kitchen. I recovered barely 250 mls of flat beverage with which to quench my thirst. I then had to mop and polish the sticky floor, and clean down the cupboard doors.
I have noticed that despite my daily physiotherapy exercises, it is getting more and more difficult, and more and more painful, to pull the left arm to the extremes of its reach. It hurts when I pull it up behind my back with a towel, It hurts to lift it onto the top of my head, it hurts to lift it to the clothes line. It hurts even more when I let go and it flops uncontrolled down to my side.
I stopped taking pain medication (which is mainly for my knees) at Christmas, out of concern about what long-term heavy doses might be doing to my insides; stomach, liver and kidneys. I have managed without it well enough, though my knees have been increasingly sore, something that never bothered me too much in summer before. That partly accounts for my grumpy negativity on some days at work.
The week before last I received some forms from Bunbury hospital to be filled out and returned, which I duly did. Accompanying them was a pro forma letter advising that I was now on a waiting list for elective surgery, categorised as class three, low priority. Waiting time up to twelve months.
Elective? Since when is the repair to an injury that causes a moderately serious disability elective? I thought that term applied to nose jobs, tattoo removal and liposuction. Low Priority? Twelve months? What happened to “This is more urgent than I thought“? What happened to the idea of joining up the disconnected bits before they shrank so much that it would no longer be possible to reconnect them?
One of the reasons I moved to Australia was that I believed the health system here to be more caring for older people. What I did not realise was that unless a non life threatening injury is work-related, there is no priority. In NZ all injuries are treated reasonably promptly under ACC, whether sustained at home, work or sport. It seems the smartest thing to have done after I did this to myself was to fly straight back to NZ and ” injure” myself lifting the luggage off the carousel at the airport.
Sod this old age crap. Leaking kidneys, failing knees, arthritic fingers, disabled arm, sleep apnoea, depression – what next? Probably alcoholism.
My unfailing cheerfulness and optimism is failing.