There is a certain disconnect in our brains. A gap that exists between understanding and comprehension. The last year has been ripe with examples that seem to support this thought but this is a condition that has existed forever. You “get it”, but you “don’t get it”.
On December 24, my wife Honey, had an accident at work. She fell and broke both her wrists. By the time she made it home, she had a cast on each arm from her finger tips to her elbow. Try to let that sink in. Try your best to comprehend what that means, because I am finding that most people seem to miss how disabling that is.
The best example is the healthcare assessor for the WCB (Workers Compensation Board) that contacted Honey. Her job was to determine the extent of Honey’s injury and report the findings to the case worker. She is the person that determines what additional health resources Honey may need, and which expenses aside from lost income, that the WCB will cover. A flight to the Dominican Republic to convalesce on a beach is not one of them. Hey… I had nothing to lose by asking!
“OMG!” she exclaimed when Honey described her injury and her current state. “I broke my arm once and that was hard to deal with. I can’t imagine how hard having both arms in casts must be.”
I have to give the assessor credit for telling the truth, because when she asked Honey five minutes later if she would like handrails for the shower, I knew she really couldn’t imagine. The woman has no use of her hands!! What is she supposed to do with handrails??!! We did accept the cast covers for taking showers. She sent one for an arm and one for a leg!!
Honey’s injury is hard to imagine. I do understand how difficult it is for people to comprehend. In my interaction with others, many have said they have had a broken a limb. I find this experience is detrimental to them fully understanding Honey’s incapacitation. They are sympathetic because of their personal experience and draw on this memory to define Honey’s current predicament. The problem is that even though their memory contains the difficult experience of losing the use of a limb, it always includes the use of the other limb. Simply saying that Honey’s situation is ‘doubly’ bad, compared to their memory, doesn’t work. That is because their memory still has the use of an arm. I keep getting suggestions on how Honey could compensate for her limited ability. I swear, these people think that Honey grew another arm!!!
I seem to be in a minority, in that I have never broken a bone. I had no preconceived notion when the doctor said to me, “she will require around the clock care for the next six-weeks”. Even before I saw her, I believed him, and took it literally! I had no memory that made me think she could do anything! I never once thought they would send her out of the hospital with a third arm! The inability to use either of her hands was absolute in my mind, and when she left the hospital with a plaster club on each arm, I was mentally prepared.
Trying to convey this to others seems to be a losing battle. Not because they are unable to understand, but without living it, they cannot seem to comprehend. It’s not their fault, their broken-bone memories cloud their comprehension. These memories give Honey special abilities that she does not have. “She could try… or she could do…” They want her to be able to do more than she can. Giving her a cup with a lid, will not change the fact that she can’t pick up the cup! She can’t use a lighter or open a door! She can’t drive to the store to buy milk!! She eats her meals with a spoon… that I’m holding!!! There is no third arm!!! Stop suggesting she has one!!!
I know these are good people, trying to show compassion and I do appreciate it. It is nice knowing I am not alone in my concern for my wife. She is on the mend but it will take time. Until then, I will live with the suggestions as they come and do my best to politely explain that my medical insurance did not cover the addition of a third arm and I am required to preform its function instead. It would probably be better if they just stopped at “I can’t imagine”.