Sunday, September 23, 2012

Typing with One Hand Tied Behind Your Back

As many of my regular readers know I had a stroke back in May. I figured two or three months of really hard work would give me at least some use of my arm back...WRONG! Just like before, the possibilities for stories in my mind are filling with characters and story lines, etc now being put on the back burner. I can't help it...I'm a writer and LOVE doing it.

My major malfunction this week was extreme pain. I rarely take any pain medicine at all, but awoke in tears one morning and had no choice. Now top this with the maximum dose of Baclofen you can take orally, Zanaflex ( another potent muscle relaxer), and Valium for my spasticity plus pain meds, and you have a real live zombie in front of you. I could almost be the cover of my next horror book. No, not really. I mean it should have been pain-free considering I had much easier movement with the Botox injections. I couldn't figure out why my shoulder hurt so bad.

A light bulb went off in my head. I had taken a fall outside onto my concrete walkway a few months back right after I got home from the hospital. One of my cats had zipped between my legs and set me off balance. At the time I assessed my condition like any trained nurse and paramedic would do as I lay on the concrete. Everything worked that had worked before the fall, no severe pain anywhere...okay so get your butt up and continue life as the new abby normal. With considerable effort, and trial and error, I got back up on my feet, brushed off the debris from my body, and went inside. The next day I was sore, but that's normal considering my age. I didn't think twice about it, but did tell my therapists and doctors that I fell.

Now it was a couple of months later and I was still in pain. I called my neurologist because I wasn't sure whether it was stroke related pain, or something else. I asked whether I needed to see an orthopedist. I wanted my new occupational therapy regime to work, but not irritate something undiagnosed.   Well x-rays were taken, an MRI performed...don't you just love being in a metal tube with someone beating on the outside with a hammer? The results were I indeed had hurt my shoulder in the fall. They called it an AC separation. It's the ligament that holds the clavicle to the shoulder. A painful shot of steroids into the joint and my arm in a sling while exercising except for therapy. Shots to be given every two weeks until healed. Time-up to four to six months without surgery. I'm not a huge fan of surgery since my heart stopped twice during my last major surgery.

This is me trying to type one handed. Okay so the picture is of a woman with a fax machine, but it amounts to the same amount of effort. I've researched various sites and youtube videos of typing one handed trying to make typing with easier and faster. The finger positioning feels unnatural with your fingers centered on the f,g,h,j keys on a qwerty keyboard. I investigated a one-handed keyboard to buy ouch! The prices between $600-$2,000. I still hope to be typing with two hands again and couldn't justify the expense in my mind so I muddle through.

As many times as I've told writers to turn off their grammar and spell checker I'm finding I had to turn mine on again. My brain just isn't capable of doing those processes yet, but I'm hopeful. I'm using my writing as therapy for both cognitive and speech therapy. I'll write a sentence and read it aloud. I've caught a lot of errors that way. I'm still searching for words that I know are in the file cabinet in my brain. My writing is semi organized. It's mainly getting the thoughts into my computer. Time to organize it into coherent sections later.

I typed my 10,000th word yesterday. Try doing that with one hand tied behind your back! Now, only 60,000 more words to go. LOL This book will possibly go to the standard publishing route. Anyhow I'll shop it around. While it holds no images the visual imagery of the words is hilarious. Another excerpt soon.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


  1. The QWERTY keyboard favors the left hand. You can type 1000s of words to the left of midline but only 100s of words to the right of the midline. I've written a book and my blog with my left hand. Before my stroke my left hand was my non-dominant hand so it took practice. I can type faster with one hand than people who peck at the keyboard with two index fingers.

    1. Rebecca, I know it will be possible to type faster with one hand...the difference is that I'm 4 months post stroke and you are seven years. Like you I'm facing/fighting many cognitive issues as well. It's a struggle but I am trying. It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks and like stroke recovery it will take time.

      Most of the readers of this blog until recently, have been writers and fans of my books. They have no idea what you and I know about stroke recovery.Even you as a former OT, before your stroke, You wrote your book after your stroke while I wrote books prior to my stroke and could complete a 50K manuscript in a couple of months.

  2. Getting my one-handed typing up to speed took months not years so don't give up hope. As a writer I frequently get ideas between 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning so I could hardly wait to get up to start typing in the morning. Good luck.

    1. Rebecca,
      I'm not giving up! I'm just frustrated and fighting the " what I could do versus me now." I'm up in pain by 4:30AM and by the time the meds kick in it's time for therapy. Energy levels are still low.I'm building speed but double hand keys like Exclamation marks, colons , and caps drive me nuts. I vary my writing times throughout the day and evening and go through my spoons too quickly.


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