Melissa never got why I was so happy that my hemiplegic hand helps me scoop up chopped onions. I brought a pile of chopped onions to therapy and showed her what you see in the photo. Melissa's analytical response was "You use your hemiplegic hand as an assistive hand." I should have made Melissa use one hand to pick up a few pieces of slippery onion at a time until the whole pile was back in my container instead of letting her watch me do it.
The Releas splint helped my hemiplegic hand hold an envelope while my other hand stuffed a return slip from a bill and a check in the envelope. I was so happy I said "Look Cathy" and grinned while I waved the envelope in the air. Cathy gave me a small smile that seemed to say, "That's nice." Nice? I want the local TV station to come film me for the evening news. First of all, holding an envelope while putting a check in it is something I haven't done for eight years. More importantly, it is something I thought I would never do again for as long as I live. Finally, I live alone and pay the bills so this new skill is useful.
Why don't therapists always act excited? Fatigue may be one reason. Rushing from client to client when a therapist treats three people at once doesn't leave much time or energy for celebrating. Therapists also don't get to see how far I've come. They were not there when I wept because flopping my limp hand in the air made it look like a dead fish strapped on the end of a stick. Having a floppy hand that can now hold a thin envelope feels like a small miracle instead of one small step forward. The next time I'm thrilled and don't get much of a reaction I'll remind myself to have faith. I'll say "Some day in a quiet moment you will see my grinning face and feel good about what you helped me achieve today."