Whether you just had surgery or are planning to have a procedure on one hand or the other, these suggestions may help you adapt to a one-handed lifestyle. Try to think about things and get organized before surgery if possible, to eliminate surprise and a sense of helplessness!
Before surgery, if you can:
- Ask family and friends for help with child care, housework, meal preparation
- Practice dressing, undressing, using the toilet, brushing your teeth, and showering. Putting your arm in a sling may provide a good simulation of one-handed life.
- open and re-seal cans, bottles, and containers you might need – don’t forget about shampoo/body wash in the shower!
- open medication containers and put them in a safe place where kids can’t reach them
- prepare some “no-cut”, minimal preparation meals (sandwiches, microwaveable dishes in separate containers, etc.)
- Plastic bags and rubber bands to cover bandages – the bags that newspapers come in are good to cover the hand and wrist. Otherwise small trash bags will do. Use two at a time. If you can find them, umbrella bags are even better. Sometimes these are stored at entrances to businesses
- Bottle sponge (soft sponge on a long stick) – for the armpit of your “good” hand
- Shower brush
- A hair brush in the shower will help you to wash your hair
- Cotton terry cloth bathrobe – to dry your back
In the shower:
- Toothpaste, shampoo, etc. in flip-top or pump (not screw top) dispensers
- Consider an electric razor
- Flossers (dental floss on a “Y” or “C” shaped handle) – several manufacturers make these – do a search on Google for dental floss pick.
- A “wash and wear” haircut.
In the bathroom:
- Dycem mat (rubber jar opener mat) – to help open jars, but also keep things from sliding around while you are working on them
- Double suction cup pads (“little Octopus”) – to hold items while you use or wash them
- Electric can opener with a lid magnet strong enough to hold the can in the air – for one handed use
In the kitchen
- Back scratcher
- Slip-on or Velcro shoes
- Oversized shirts and tops
- Put away clothing which buttons, fastens or snaps in the back or which uses drawstrings – use pants with elastic waistbands.
- Sports bra or a camisole instead of a bra
- L’eggs Sheer Energy nylons can be pulled on one handed – most others can’t
In the bedroom
Material adapted from Charlie Eaton, MD