Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The Ability to Compensate
One of the dictionary's definitions of "compensate" is to "adjust or make up for shortcomings."
My body's ability to compensate never ceases to amaze me. Over the last thirty years, I have watched as muscle groups became more important than individual muscles. I have seen the benefits of locking the quads to prevent the knees from buckling. And, I have become accustomed to using the shoulder muscles to help lift the arm above the head when I am holding something. The body's ability to compensate is what keeps us active and still involved. If the body did not compensate for a dying muscle, I would hate to think what kind of condition I would be in today.
Unfortunately, there are no muscle groups to help compensate for the loss of the use of my left thumb and index finger. Over the last several years my left thumb has given me problems when temperatures drop below 50. When temperatures drop below freezing, the left thumb stops functioning altogether. When this happens, picking thing up, opening jars, washing dishes, typing, and holding objects become difficult. I have to remain focused on what I am doing as well as being extra careful during these times.
This winter my left index finger has taken on the same characteristics as my thumb. It was difficult enough before, but now trying to use my left hand during the winter has become a real test. When I am in my wheelchair, my right hand drives the chair. This leaves the left hand to pick up and carry things like a glass of water, coffee cup or plate. If the thumb and index finger no longer work, I cannot safely grasp and hold things as I transport them from one location to another. My hand exercises help some, but not enough. I am concerned what will happen next winter if I cannot find something to help. Hand warmers seem to help some, but not enough. Someone mentioned heated electric gloves. That might have to be the next purchase.
I am seeing my neurologist in two months and plan on discussing this issue with him. Fortunately, spring is finally here and the days are warming up. When temperatures were in the 70's last week, my left thumb and index finger were almost back to normal.
Are any of you experiencing similar problems?