So of course I’m going to be partial to a book that not only has an occupational therapist as a prominent character but also know that an OT is not someone who finds people jobs. I started reading Left Neglected last night and finished it before dinner today. I’m pretty bummed that I finished it so fast and I can’t wait to read Genova’s other book “Still Alice.”
In summary “Left Neglected” is about a career woman and mom whose life is a constant juggling act. Sarah has carved out for her and her family what seems to be society’s definition of success. All that changes after a traumatic brain injury. Lisa Genova not only captured what it’s like to adjust to life after a brain injury but she also does an amazing job following Sarah as her emotional perspective changes.
Honestly I think this book should be mandatory reading for any health professional in the rehabilitation field. It is an amazing story of learning to live life with purpose – even after your abilities change drastically. I am so proud to be able to do the job that I do and I’m so grateful that I can do it part-time and I savor every moment with my children and family.
This week I was finally let out into the home health world. Even though my job now involves at times wiping bottoms and dealing with people who are frustrated and angry that life turned a direction they didn’t want to go – I love it! I am honored to be able to help families and patients navigate through the storm, even if it’s just helping in the smallest way.
Writing is something I have always loved. Only recently have I started to enjoy using my laptop for this activity. Usually I rely on old-fashioned pen and paper. For me there is a deeper connection between my inner dialog and a pen than there is with a keyboard. Unfortunately there are times when pen to paper is not very practical. I remember watching the movie Little Women in shock as Jo wrote her first novel by hand. There were pages and pages of beautiful cursive handwriting. I also remember thinking that her ink-stained finger was like a badge of courage for enduring that much abuse.
For some, writing even a sentence or two can be painful. For me, the pain doesn’t kick in until page three. But that limit is getting shorter and shorter. One reason that my own hand hurts is the death grip I hold my pen in. I clutch it as if it’s the last one on the planet and could be confiscated at any moment. When my patients have the same issue I usually recommend a fatter pen with a gel grip. This can help, and is usually far better than writing with a very thin pen. But for myself I find I’m still using my death-grip, only on a bigger pen, and my joints still ache.
So here is my solution. When I was in college I fell in love with all things old-fashioned, including a fountain pen I found in a specialty store. I wrote everything with this pen and soon realized that if I pressed the pen too hard on the page it would separate the nib and make it impossible to use. I quickly learned to hold the pen more gently. Of course my joints were much younger then and I didn’t have any hand pain. But as I stopped using the pens and returned to my modern ways my death-grip returned as well.
The other day when I saw a disposable fountain pen at a local bookstore I could not resist. Sure enough my fingers relaxed and my hand loosened up. My handwriting became more fluid as the letters stretched across the page. I can’t say my penmanship improved any but my comfort sure did. I think that I will be bringing my fountain pen into the clinic for my patients to try. Who knows? It may not work for all of them as well as it did for me. I do know that I have rediscovered my favorite pen.