Ulnar-nerved Mama—when you want to be a superhero

Ulnar nerve transposed...

Here I am at the computer, wondering whether the internet, particularly its subset, or offspring, known as the blog, should be classified as heavy machinery, which I’ve been warned to refrain from using.  The doctor seems to think I can type with my left arm in an all-but-full-length bandage and my elbow in a splint.  Turns out he is right.  But my brain on percocet is not the same as my brain without.  No surprise there.

If you’ve been reading regularly, you may recall my post on Cynthia Ozick a few weeks ago (“What Cynthia Ozick said to me—and a few other things”) when I mentioned spending too much time at The Hospital for Joint Diseases for a normally unnoted part of our bodies, the ulnar nerve, a worker within the elbow’s network that affects mobility, strength, and sensation in the two smallest fingers, pinky and ring, and eventually parts of the whole hand.  If the ulnar nerve is pinched, the pinky finger and part of the ring finger start to tingle, like they’ve fallen asleep, then begin to grow numb, then, if you’re in that “eventually” category (turns out I was), the rest of the hand weakens and begins to lose sensation too.  This was all happening, pretty quietly, I’d say, on my left side, for quite some time, until those fingers went numb and tingly and stayed that way, oddly synchronized with the period when I was dealing with school decisions for my older child and joining Facebook.  Funny how the mind and body communicate in subterranean fashion without our conscious brain’s participation.

So this past Monday I checked in to the HJD to deal with an entrapment and transpositionDoctor—or spy—lingo for procedures to un-trap the ulnar nerve and move it.  (Like many, it had never occurred to me that a nerve could be moved.  Frankly, I hadn’t given any thought to one being trapped either.)  I joked with my boys ahead of time that they could call me “one-armed Mama.” The older, a vocabulary sponge, decided on “ulnar-nerved Mama” instead.  I can’t say I want to be defined by one particular, rather faulty, nerve in my elbow, and yet there is the faintest hint of super-power potential in the claiming of ailment as identity.  Sometimes our weaknesses, or our burdens, are our strength, even when—or because—they need to be surmounted.  Even when—and because—they feel more like burdens than strengths.  They drag us down, but then we’re forced to make our way back up.

I don’t know if it’s because of how my father died that I find myself compelled to think of trials as opportunities; or perhaps it has as much to do with watching him struggle with depression, though that struggle didn’t have a name during most of my childhood.  In any case, ulnar-nerved mama is trying to enjoy a little bit of foggy brain: move more slowly, focus on the basics, rest, and (I had imagined) read, though this turns out to be less feasible than I’d hoped, and ponder, in a winding and murky sort of way.  I must say having a lame arm and being on pain medication reminds me a bit of the sleepless, time-warped fog of having a new baby.  Mustn’t roll over on the baby (ditto for the arm), wake up every few hours to feed the baby (take a pill) or wonder if the baby is still breathing (check if a child is about to climb into bed, thus crushing the arm).  But at least this fog will end much sooner, and my arm won’t need a bigger apartment.

~ Drop by karakrauze.tumblr.com for other meandering thoughts and tidbits this week and next. ~

supporters and taskmasters (and superheroes)

About Kara Krauze

http://karakrauze.com Kara Krauze is a writer, consultant, and educator. Kara has worked in publishing, financial services, the mental health field, and community organizing. Her essays have been published in Quarterly West, Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts, Highbrow Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She has a B.A. from Vassar College in International Studies and a M.A. in Literary Cultures from New York University. She has participated in workshops in New York City, Prague, and France, studied in Moscow and lived in London. Her writing, including a memoir and novels, engages with the subjects of war, loss, and memory. She grew up in Ohio and currently lives in New York City. Kara founded Voices From War, offering writing workshops for veterans, in 2013. http://VoicesFromWar.org
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