I promised that this blog would record my everyday life as an amputee mom of five young kids. For the most part, I have tackled larger and more general topics. But today I want to walk you through a very simple part of my every day life - fixing my breakfast.
As you will see, simple things turn complicated when you lose both hands to sepsis. At the same time, I appreciate simple things all the more.
I am extremely fortunate. Blessed really. I have two remarkable, technologically-advanced, battery-powered, game-changing, "myoelectric," robotic, prosthetic hands! They even look real!
I will have to tackle a full explanation of their workings another day. Suffice it to say that I can open and close them in a pincer grasp. I am able to grab things, pick them up, and put them down. But I also drop or smush things a great deal of the time.
They are difficult to operate, and the learning curve has been great. It took me a ten-day stint in a rehabilitation hospital as well as 18 months of trial and error practice to learn how to use them as well as I do. Day by day, I continue to improve; but my prosthetic hands will never work as well as the ones God made for me.
Lest I get distracted, let's go back to fixing my breakfast.
On school days, I typically have a beautiful 40-minute period of time between sending the big kids off to school and waking up my toddler for preschool. (She is a late-nighter, not an early riser.) Let's say that I want a simple bowl of cereal; and humor me while I walk you through the steps I take to prepare it.
First, I reach up into the cabinet and carefully grab a cereal bowl. Then, I scavenge in the silverware drawer and manage to pinch out a spoon. After almost two years of practice, many broken bowls, and even more bent spoons, I have learned to do these seemingly simple tasks. Today, I complete them without a hitch!
Next, I go to the pantry and am pleased to find a fresh box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch that the kids have not yet demolished. Better yet - the box is on a shelf where I can reach it and even at the right angle for my hand to open and close around it. Chances are I will squeeze the box and bend it, possibly crush the cereal that's inside of it; so I have to be extremely careful, or I may inadvertently unclench my hand and thus let go of the box. Which I do. Then, in an attempt to hold on a bit tighter, I smoosh the box. Back to a lighter grip. This time the box falls and smacks me in the middle of the forehead. But I do eventually get it onto the counter in one piece.
The next frustration, I mean, step, will be to actually open the box. I use my "fingernails" to get under the side of the box top. Then I gently wiggle and pull several times to open it. After two or three minutes, it does not look pretty; but the outer portion of the box is OPEN! Hooray!
Yes, now I have to open the plastic bag inside the box that actually holds the cereal. Using my prosthetic fingers, and holding one side at the top of the plastic bag, I try five or six times to tear through the glue. When that doesn't work, I change strategies and grab the bag on both sides. I get a good grip on each side and count to three...BOOM! I open the bag, and there is an explosion of Cinnamon Toast Crunch! The cereal lands all over the counter and on the floor. I sigh and get out the broom to sweep up my mess. I try to think back to the last time the floor was cleaned... I decide that, since I can't remember, the cereal doesn't meet (even) my standards of what is edible. Luckily, there is still enough cereal left in the box to pour a small bowl, which I do without incident.
Frustrated yet? Stay with me.
I still need some milk. I open the fridge to see which type of milk carton we ended up with this week - the kind with the twist-top or the pop-top. I've learned to manage both types (with my teeth, of course), but the pop-top is quicker; and I'm getting hungry now.
Ugh. It's the twist-top. With a deep breath and some positive self-talk, I lean over and open my mouth. Remember all those times that mom told you it was rude to drink from the carton, unsanitary to put your mouth on the spout? Forget I ever said that. You do what you have to do.
I proceed with gripping the round twist-top in between my teeth. I hold my head still and recite the "lefty-loosy, righty-tighty" rhyme while I turn the jug to the right. Think about that one for a minute...
I successfully open the milk jug and carefully pour some milk over the cereal without dropping the whole carton or spilling milk. Boo-ya!
I slowly and gracefully (ha!) carry my breakfast to the table and sit down to (finally) eat. I take a deep breath, smile, and (figuratively) give myself a pat on the back. I lift that first bite to my open mouth.
Then, suddenly the back door bursts open.
My breathless, disheveled middle-schooler plops down in the chair next to me and barks, "I missed the bus! Can you drive me to school?"
Oh well, I'll try this breakfast thing again tomorrow.