"After receiving the diagnosis, Brian sits for a long period reflecting on his life along with the changes he's about to endure."
On a man's hands thin lines can swirl and snake their way in chaotic patterns separating every human being on the planet from one another. Plush skin can symbolize youth and journeys just beginning, or wrinkles can indicate knowledge obtained and wisdom shared. Well maintained fingernails can display style and fashion, a watch placed above on the wrist showcases success and wealth, and even the most important element for unity among couples is symbolized by jewelry on the ring finger. Softness by touch can generate a gentle calming presence, while thick rough calluses oftentimes are the only physical attribute proving a lifetime worth of hard work. One's hands can showcase status, transform into working tools used every day, or grasp everything a person deems important. A person's hands are used so frequently that most are unable to imagine a life without their use, or fathom the life lost if this usage was suddenly taken from them.
So how much of life is in a man's hands?
For most of society this thought is never entertained unless unfortunate circumstances unexpectedly becomes a reality for them or a loved one. For this reason a majority of the population fails to understand the challenges and loss of everyday living which these individuals and families fight through. The physical sighting of such circumstances can elicit sympathy, but not solutions. These individuals strive to obtain the ladder and can feel undermined or embarrassed by the former. Many may even lose their ability with no physical method of detection. The loss of one's hands can severely affect their daily independence. Independence can drastically alter confidence, daily norms, and can even trigger emotions of guilt when suddenly needing additional help from those closest to them. These hardships are best understood one story at a time.
After fifteen years of breaking his back as a blue-collar stone mason providing for his large family, severe pain now prevents Charlie from gripping the tools needed to labor. Staring at his hands he misses when they were filled with scrapes and seemed stained from brick residue. Charlie's back isn't what gave out as rheumatoid arthritis unexpectedly took away use of his hands. After a lifetime of mastering his craft he suddenly worries about how he will obtain the money needed to feed the mouths, place clothing on the backs of, and sustain a roof over the heads of his family. His fear over their well being prohibits the thoughts or accommodations needed for his own self-sufficiency in those areas.
After receiving the diagnosis, Brian sits for a long period reflecting on his life along with the changes he's about to endure. Only in his forties it seems like just yesterday he dropped to a knee and pulled out the ring asking his wife to marry him. He remembers how badly his hands shook as he reached for it, and held it while asking the most important question of his life. He had never felt so proud once receiving her answer. Now without control, his hands have begun shaking like they did during that moment, but pride no longer follows. It also seems like yesterday he had to feed and clothe his new born children- now teenagers. His mind now races towards a day they may soon have to do the same for him.
Calvin, A successful business man remembers shining in his suit when closing high pressured business deals with a signature handshake. A recent stroke has left Calvin's left arm in a state of paralysis. He is learning new ways to accomplish his daily routines but he never expected the changes to affect his wardrobe. Accustomed to wearing high end clothing that seemed to be directly linked to his self-image, he now frustratingly stares at the limited and unattractive clothing options that allow for his independent dressing. He constantly wonders if people place negative perceptions of inattentiveness or sloppiness caused by his choices of sweat suits. Calvin still can use his right hand to complete his signature handshake but feels like the man behind it has been lost.
Lastly imagine Staff Sargent Ramirez's return home after an explosion took him away from combat. His injuries caused him to lose his right arm. This man can be defined as a hero after his bravery in battle and service for his country. Many will recognize his courage and commend him for his sacrifice, but few will ever recognize his new fears, some which could cause him to sacrifice many of the everyday norms. During a day long job interview he declines every offer for a bottle of water. Dressed in his finest business attire he decides it's not worth the risk of trying to manipulate his clothing in the situation where he needed to use the public restroom. This man fought for our independence but who is fighting for his?
Whose hands are these men's lives in?
So much of "everyday life" is altered or lost for individuals with disabilities. Many of these everyday aspects are routine that they not thought of and oftentimes ignored by society. Look around do you see these stories playing out in your community, workplace, or even within your own family? Who will take matters into their own hands, when so much has been taken out of theirs?
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