LI.D.A. little dead arm wakes up

Flskirt with hatchetashback: Hospital bed, Springfield, immediately after surgery. ‘Whose arm is this?”

Well, what would you think if you woke up and there was an arm lying beside you in bed that you could neither feel nor move? It could only be someone else’s, right? Although how and why that arm was removed from the body of its owner and placed in bed beside me was a mystery. It did seem somewhat strange, but not strange in a gory creepy way. Blessings of brain damage!

Lida a.k.a. little dead arm, was just that until well after I left the rehab hospital. It was an appendage that did nothing but dangle its dead weight from my shoulder, partially dislocating the bones with its heft. I never imagined how heavy that skinny little arm was until it ceased taking care of itself. Do you remember that scene in Ace Ventura Pet Detective, when Jim Carrey swings his body side to side and his arms fly around and flop into each other like rubber hoses? That’s where Lida was until about six months after my release from hospital.

Lida did not stay floppy for long, but forged on to the other end of the spectrum and developed what is called spasticity in medical lingo. Spasticity is a common occurrence in stroke survivors. It is a rigid tightness in a muscle group. It feels as though the flexing switch has been turned on full blast in my brain. And I can’t turn it off. You’ve seen it before, arms curled up and held close to the chest of people with brain injuries and other neurological issues.

Lida displays some very interesting reactions. When I get cold Lida plays air guitar, strumming like crazy. The weirdest is when there’s a sharp noise and Lida jerks before my brain even registers sound.

With lots of therapy and exercise I am now able to straighten my elbow and use my shoulder to lift my arm about half way. So the large muscles are recovering. But my fingers still tingle with numbness and I am unable to straighten any of the fingers on my left hand. With a lot of concentration I am able to squeeze my fingers around something but only as a set. There’s no index finger and thumb action.

When my occupational therapist asked my goal is for the coming year of therapy, I told her, “Lida needs to hold a nail.” “I’ve got a chicken coop to to build.”

I’ve learned to do many things with a single hand, but it will be handy, ha, ha, ha,when Lida gets to work.

About Vic Cobb Fountain

Empowered Stroke survivor: appreciating where I've been, anticipating where I'm going.
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2 Responses to LI.D.A. little dead arm wakes up

  1. Marta Szwaya says:

    I too have a non- working left hand. 3 1/2 years post stroke…still no function, so I am a member of the onehanded club. My progress has all been around pain. I had a bang up case of left neglect at first where I didn’t recognize my left arm for ages and a painful shoulder, and I had no sense of where mty hand was in space, so I would be walkingh down the hall at work and wiould think my hand isis reaching for the wall, but no! It was laying by the side of me. All that has cleared up now, so I’ve actually had a lot of improvement, just not the functioning kind. But when I think about where I was with my arm, I’ve come a very long way and so I think I can go further still…we will see.I am not a guperson who gives up. My brainhas been very good since the stroke, I have no problems cognitively; I was able to return to work, and have worked consistently since…no small accomplishment. So I trust my brain to continue being what it always has been, a good hard worker, capable of learning and evolving.Marta

  2. Marta Szwaya says:

    Another arm comment. I never really lost sensation in my arm and hand, just had a subluxation in my left shoulderand a lot of ‘left neglect’. That has resolved itself now. So I do pay attention to the left now, and I know where my left hand is , but it still has no function. In bed sometimes it stays behind when I roll over. Before, I would ask my husband to flip it over myside, but that is no longer an issue, I still can’t move it by itself, I must put it into position before I turn over…but small price to pay. Marta

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