My brother finally got around to fixing his tennis elbow. Unsurprisingly, Frank insists normal repetitive stress from too many hours hitting balls caused his injury. I beg to differ though. Knowing him for the poor loser he’s always been, I think his elbow suffered more shocks from smashing tennis rackets and ping pong paddles than it could handle.
A specialist performed a procedure on Frank’s ailing limb two days ago. I can’t remember exactly what the doctor did to him, but he told me last night that he’s not supposed to do any heavy lifting for a week. And at least as of yesterday, he wasn’t using the arm at all. Because he isn’t ambidextrous, even a temporary loss of his principal arm and hand must present challenges.
Frank admitted that the twenty-four hours since his procedure haven’t been easy. When his wife offered to run to the store for any groceries he might need, he attempted to scribble a list with his off hand. Ellen managed to decipher most of his scrawl, but she misread a couple of entries. As a result, he had to choose between a scotch without the requested club soda for his evening cocktail, or else substitute the item Ellen purchased in its stead: baking soda.
My brother told me he never realized how much he depends on his right hand until he couldn’t use it. In addition to his writing difficulties, he’s proved unable to button his pants, open bottles, or manage a host of other day-to-day activities he ordinarily accomplishes with ease.
Me being me, I was most interested in the problems he’s experienced in one particular area: the bathroom. “Can you wipe your ass with the other hand, or do you ask Ellen to do that too?” I queried.
Frank told me he’d have to be comatose to saddle his wife with such an odious chore. As matters stand, he’ll tend himself as best he can until his arm becomes functional again.
“But how good is your ‘best’?” I inquired.
He replied, “Not so great. Every time I leave the bathroom, my left shirt sleeve wears a yellow racing stripe. And when I undressed last night, Ellen referred to my underwear as the ‘tightie brownies!’”