Last week I went to the hand doctor. Modern medicine has divided the human body so each little piece is assigned to a different specialist. The back bone is not connected to the hip bone. The hand bone is not connected to the shoulder bone. This disconnection is tricky when the problem in the hip bone is caused by a problem in the backbone, but no doctor will look at both. Having already seen my hip bone, back bone, foot bone, and neck bone doctors, none of whom would look at my wrist bone or hand bones I needed yet another doctor. Hence the visit to the hand doctor who fortunately also looks at wrists (phew).
She said: “You’ve got some serious arthritis in your hands. It’s what’s causing the cyst on your wrist, too.”
Not carpal tunnel which is easy to fix and heals quickly. Arthritis. Damn.
I’ve been pounding on pianos, typewriters (see Note) and/or computers since the age of 4 when it was discovered I could pick out melodies on the piano. Sixty-two years later, my wrists and hands have taken more than their fair share of abuse. They’ve held up pretty well. They’ve gone the distance and are ready for retirement.
The rest of me is unimaginably far from ready.
I can’t walk much and can barely make it up the stairs to my house. I can’t bend. Can’t lift. Have trouble driving. As my world has shrunk, the computer has taken its place. It’s my last gateway to participating in the Outside World. My feet can’t take me there, but my fingers can travel a keyboard.
Now, the doctor is explaining, arthritis (unlike carpal tunnel) is not a simple fix. Actually, there’s no fix. When the pain gets unbearable, she can do some surgery. Remove a few pieces of bone from my hands.
I didn’t think I had any disposable body parts left, but apparently I do. Who needs those silly little hand bones anyhow? I’ve got plenty of others.
The recovery period required following this not-so-simple-surgery — during which my hands will be immobilized — is half a year. Or more. After that? Could I use the computer again? Maybe. A little. But my blogging days — my writing days — will be over. This is my last stop on the “I can do it” railroad, so I don’t know where to go from here. I’m pretty sure I don’t have another self-reinvention in me.
So this is not a theoretical question for me. It’s very now.
What would I do without a computer? Without being able to write or process photos?
Read and watch television. Talk to my remaining friends on the phone. Live like shut-ins did before computers. My last window closes.
This is not a subject I can discuss light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek. What would I do with my life when there’s nothing left I can do which I enjoy? I guess I’d do nothing much. Because when you run out of choices, nothing is pretty much what’s left.
Note: Typewriters look like computer keyboards, but sometimes can work without electricity. No monitor. However a typewriter doubles as a printer. Merely insert paper, type and printed sheets emerge … even without electricity! How clever our ancestors were!
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