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  • Writer's picturekaydee777


For the first time in over four weeks (32 days to be exact - more than one lunar cycle) I sat down at my sewing machine today.

I have an order for a dress to sew: an order which I took in October last year. It is a summer dress. The client, my local honey merchant, was happy to wait until spring. I cut out the dress the day before I fell, planning to sew and deliver by late March about when my winter stash of honey was going to run out.

The unmade garment has languished on the back of my sewing room chair since. I've had to resort to paying money rather than bartering for my honey.

My left hand is an essential part of sewing, with the super important role of guiding fabric under the needle on the sewing machine, ensuring seams are straight. The hand and fingers are still swollen, pudgy with inflammation, clumsy and stiff, but gave me fair obedience today.

In the absence of any function from the thumb, and though I still cannot put pressure on them nor lift any weight, the middle and index fingers are learning new pinching and gripping behaviours. They are evolving like chopsticks at the end of this damaged arm.

I always thought devolution of the human species would begin with politicians, but it seems it has actually begun with me. I have probably permanently lost half my original allocation of opposable thumbs.

Fortunately I have three very willing fingers stepping into the breech. The pinky finger, while not as completely immobile as the thumb, continues to have some inability to respond to instructions to move. Perhaps this is connected to the ulna styloid process being broken off on the left arm.

The osteopath told me "we are not doing anything about the styloid process". Huh? My quality of life depends on dexterity of hands. Besides how can I drink a proper cup of tea without being able to raise the pinky finger? Well with no thumb there's no chance of that activity anyway, but still, it's the principal. Seems there might have been fine print. Hippocrates either didn't include osteopaths or didn't include ulna styloid processes in his oath.

Progress was slow today. I've been using a sewing machine as a creative tool for over sixty years now. It is really tiring learning new ways of doing things with one's body. The brain has to engage, switch off auto pilot and actively monitor and instruct. I could not sew for long today without needing to step away and rest.

Teaching fingers to feed cloth into a sewing machine without use of thumb and with a shattered radius which currently has zero range of motion, felt like the energetic equivalent of a half marathon.

Recovery and adaptation to sudden physical disability is a huge, energetically demanding and challenging thing.

I haven't aced it yet, am still at tortoise slow and steady level especially with craft activities which require two hands. Slow hand stitching, mending, embroidery and knitting, some of my favourite pasttimes, are all still on hold.

There are just not enough functional digits on the left side right now.

And don't get me started on the stable of now dusty kayaks and canoe, it being beautiful paddle weather and me without the use of a paddle arm for a long while yet. Chopsticks fingers, no matter how much I will them, just don't have the grip or strength to pull a paddle through water. Yet.

On the bright side, though, I did harvest two very hot, little, pink radishes today. That's double the previous harvest.

The warming temperatures are making them deliciously spicy!

Indian cilantro, in a burst of sudden profusion at the back door, is causing quite a buzz in the early mornings these days. Growing my own dhania dal, an aromatic, anti inflammatory Ayurvedic digestive made from roasted coriander seeds, is becoming a reality. If those winged critters are pollinating the lovely laciness of flowers, coriander seeds will surely follow.

Arching over the outback garden, a green brilliance of grapevine coming into new leaf is making tight coiled promises: there will be bunches of sweet things to come.


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