Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Making Lemonade with my Affected Hand

You know the old sating that when life gives you a bunch of lemons make lemonade, right? I've learned quite a few coping skills since my strokes left me with half a functioning body. When using a cane to walk in my functioning hand, it leaves my spastic, nonfunctioning arm an hand to carry packages and such. I put it to work.

This post is inspired by Rebecca Dutton over at the Home After A Stroke blog. She blogged about how she escapes frustration by making her affected side do.

For example, I had to carry my new brace and new shoe in a bag for an adjustment. I guess I could have shoved both under my affected arm, but I found a drawstring bag works better. I hook the strings on my index and middle fingers to carry it. The contracture of my middle finger is locked into a hooked position. Yes, it's aggravating to get loose, but I managed quite well until that point. This works for when I have multiple small items I have to carry too. I have various sizes of drawstring and tote bags to assist me. The tote bags just hooks on my spastic arm. The spasticity is constant in the arm so it is locked into a 45° or greater angle. A perfect large hook to hang things on.

With the spasticity, my hand us locked into an inverted 90° or greater angle. I have found I can slide my hand into pitchers and crockpot inserts to help me wash them. My shoulder can move, thanks to the Botox injections, to reposition them.

Years ago, I came up with a joke about my arms. My left functioning arm said to my right, nonfunctioning arm, "Why am I having to do all the work? Just what are you doing?" My right nonfunctioing arm responds, "Oh, nothing. I'm just hanging around."

Well, that's not true anymore. I make my nonfunctioning side help the unaffected side. I recently bought a meat package of beef, chicken, and pork, 55lbs total weight. Among these was a  9lb boneless pork loin. Now, a 9lb pork loin of this size roasted for a family of six would be just about right, but there are only two of us here. I decided it would make excellent pork chops for numerous meals. This pork loin had never been frozen and chilled meat is slippery to cut especially one handed. I pit the slab of meat on the cutting board and lifted my affected, glove covered fist on top of the slab. I used my shoulder muscle to put downward pressure on the meat to hold it in place while I cut off 1/2' thick pork chops off the loin. I wear a Latex glove with the finger pulled inside the glove over my fist. The length allows for coverage of my forearm so I can use this too on large portions of meat. I wrapped two in a package for a meal. I ended up with nine meals of pork chops and a 1/2lb package of pieces for another recipe. I did the same with the 8.5lb beef roast for yummy steaks and stew meat. I made short work of the 10lb chub of the 80/20 ground beef chopping it into 1lb sections using the same method. One 55lb haul from the butcher shop provided us with a couple months of meals either in the freezer or canned in my pressure canner for quick easy meals and the cost was $110 or $2 a lb.

These are adaptive life skills. I reduce frustration. I switch I CAN'T with I CAN! What's the other old saying? Use it or lose it! Or, from a stroke survival perspective, learn how to make do.

Nothing is impossible.


  1. I also put a premium on eliminating frustration. Therapists don't have anything to do but help clients, but familiy members have other things to do. Repeatedly waiting for someone to finish what they are doing so they can help me for 10 secs when I get to the step I cannot do would make me very irritable.

    1. Life is about adapting. It never stops. All you can do is roll with the punches, make lemonade, and hope for a better hereafter.


I love to hear from you! Agree, Disagree, matter. Even if it's to say you were here.