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What will you do when your hands start to fail you?

That familiar dull ache is returning. The numbness, the tingling. I know it well from the last pregnancy and boy, I did not expect it to make a comeback so early this time around – but here is it anyways and all I can do is… what? get some wrist braces and hope it doesn’t get too bad?

Carpal tunnel, enemy of the writer and many others, thank goodness this is related to pregnancy and not a permanent state! It’s certainly made me ponder what I’ll do when my hands do fail, when I just can’t type like I used to, and made me wonder how many writers have plans for when that happens – do you?

I know this is going to slow me down some, not just in the writing front, but in everything. I mean, I was washing some burnt stuff off an oven tray the other day and cringing as I did it. I’m coming up 15 weeks pregnant, I have a really long way to go… considering I couldn’t use a tin opener and struggled to get the lid off the coffee jar near the end of the last one, I hate to think what I’m going to end up like this time around. I have to get that painting done sooner or later or I am simply not going to be able to complete the job. It makes me anxious, thinking about it, trying to guess how bad it might get.

I guess I need to try and force those thoughts from my head! Take each day as it comes and try not to focus too much on my hands and the sense of wrongness I get from them.

Whats utterly depressing is that I couldn’t even hold a book up properly in late pregnancy last time around….maybe I’ll have to resort to audio books? I’ve seen the shake in my hand already, the pages wobbling every so slightly as I lie in bed at night.

As always, I’ll push on. Thankfully writing isn’t the worst cause of pain with carpal tunnel for me, I managed to write right up until the night before I gave birth last time around and I am pretty sure that I’ll be able to do the same this time, even though my pace might be a little slower as I stop and flick my fingers out and cradle my hands and wrists to my chest.

Carpal tunnel, and swollen feet, my most loathed pregnancy symptoms – at least I’m not swelling anywhere but my belly yet! lol

But seriously, back to the question: Do you have a plan? Or have you not stopped to consider? What would you do if you lost your hands in an accident? Or when you’re simply getting on in years and arthritis kicks in? Will you use a voice writing programme, or simply stop writing your stories out – is that the time when you switch from the written word to telling your well loved tales to grandchildren around the fire?

I’d love to know.

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16 thoughts on “What will you do when your hands start to fail you?”

    1. you can still tell a story when you can’t see, though you might need some extra help editing and polishing it up. I think any obstacle can be overcome when you really want to, it’s just a matter of not letting it get ya down šŸ™‚

  1. When, not if, my body eventually succumbs to the tortures I have put it through over the years I am going to get an assistant / secretary and dictate everything. There was a story a few years back (and the name of the author eludes me at the moment) who would stride back and forth whilst delivering – at machine-gun pace – their latest story. That sounds kinda fun, in an evil genius way of course…

    Going blind though… You ever catch Scent Of A Woman (with Al Pacino doing his shouty acting)? That is probably what I would end up like – an insufferable bastard to all who dare get near to me, causing havoc and mayhem in my wake. I could lose the use of my legs and not give a damn, but without sight or the ability to type (or draw) I would end up going insane.

  2. MY grandmother had arthritis, and every once in a while, just in the last two, three months, I feel an aching twinge in one of my knuckles. It doesn’t last for more than half a day, but I know it’s coming…

    And no, I have NO IDEA what I’ll do! Thoughts and prayers are sent your way for those hands to hold out over the next 25 weeks!!

    1. Thanks Anna!
      Fingers crossed that the onset of arthritis doesn’t happen for many more years, perhaps the occasional twinge is your body making you slow down for a bit šŸ˜‰ you’re such an amazingly fast writer that it wouldn’t surprise me!

  3. I think I’d enjoy speaking a story as much as writing one, so dictating to a willing typist or dictaphone would be fine. I suspect it would make the process different though. I often find hearing the words spoken aloud makes me aware of different things in the writing than reading. I’ve never really used voice recognition software but hopefully by the time my hands start to fail, I’m guessing that sort of thing will be pretty commonplace and user-friendly.

    You have my sympathies though. Losing the ability to use your hands comfortably, even for a short period of time, must be awful, especially for a writer.

    1. I totally agree with you about the spoken word. I actually downloaded the trial for the dragon speaking software last pregnancy but was too nervous to use it. I think it would definitely take a bit of work to get use to the different way of telling a story, having those words hang in the air for a few moments would probably make me want to change them! Mind you, with small kids always around in the background there is always the danger of incredibly garbled input! lol the software wouldn’t know what to think sometimes I reckon šŸ˜‰

  4. I don’t have a plan but know that Paperback Writer dictates all of her writing using the voice software Dragon something. I hear that they need a bit of use to train them to your voice and finding one to recognise a NZ accent might be more difficult or require more training.

    But there are options out there!

    1. There are, indeed. Someone told me there is an app you can get for Word that will do it as well though I never actually managed to find it last time I was looking! I think the one she uses it called Dragon Naturally Speaking, and I should have activated and given it a trial last time around but I just couldn’t do it. It’s something that would no doubt be incredibly useful to be able to use, for all kinds of reasons, but I think it would take a fair bit of getting used to, hearing your story come out your mouth rather than seeing it come out your fingers.

  5. Wow, I didn’t know pregnancy caused that. Good to know, you know, for the future.

    I’ve thought about this a lot in the past. When I turned eleven, we went ice skating for my birthday party; I tripped over the entrance to the rink, sprawled out on the ice, and some guy skated across my left pinky finger. Fortunately, it only required three stitches to fix, and it didn’t cause long-term usage problems. Still, though, I’ve often thanked God that I didn’t lose a finger that day. I play the piano, the guitar, and am a writer – none of those go too well with only nine fingers. As far as long-term, chronic pain in my hands? I’m not looking forward to it. Guess I’ll just have to figure a way to deal with it, if I ever suffer such an ailment.

    1. ouch! I had my thumb run over, probably about the same age even, at an ice skating rink, so I know how that feels! We do need to remember that we’re very blessed to have what we’ve got, though I think most of us – the people who just can’t not tell stories – would find a way around any difficulties that cropped up.
      Here is to a long pain free future for us all! lol

  6. If I absolutely could not use my hands at all, I’d use voice recognition on a PC for writing. Nothing can stop you!

  7. No idea what I would do, but I trust the resourcefulness and creativity of us all to find ways around things.

    I think “Helen keller” – deaf, blind, mute, intelligent, creative and inspirational profound thinker. There is a philosophy and writer of some significance, major impact on thousands of people, inspiration to thousands.

    We aren’t going there, but that is where she started – can’t even imagine. Yet she developed a unique voice in relationship with her beloved friend and expressed her soul eloquently through that relationship.

    Oh, and if you have genuine fears of permanent harm to yourself or long term chronic illness, check out emofree.com and download the EFT (emotional freedom techniques) manual. Even if you are not interested now, this site will only be up until 15th Jan this year – the founder is retiring. Always good to have some seriously effective healing stuff in your pocket I figure LOL

  8. Ah JC, sorry to hear you are having this struggle. Everything comes earlier it seems with each ensuing pregnancy.

    There is a man in a my critique group who uses software called Dragon. Are you familiar with it? Anyway, he speaks and it writes for him. He says without he wouldn’t be able to write beyond a paragraph. And now they have connected to Blackberry, so that he speaks into his Blackberry and then downloads it and Dragon converts it for him into text.

    I wish you all the best. It will pass.

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