It seems lefty can refer to someone who has a dominate left side. They throw or kick a ball more successfully with their left arm or left leg. Most times, those without a disability can use their opposite hand reasonably well. They might feel more comfortable lifting a glass with their dominate hand, but could lift the same glass with their off hand. With cerebral palsy, performing physical tasks might only work when using one hand. Even performing that physical task with the dominate hand could be tricky. One of the most challenging physical tasks for me has been holding a glass. When confronted with a full glass of liquid, it can be nearly impossible to lift that glass off the table with my dominate hand. There rarely becomes consideration of lifting a glass with my left hand, which happens to be my non-dominate side. However, the idea of lifting a full glass from the table hasn’t been the only area of struggle on the left side of my body. Most everything has been more difficult when it comes to the left side. That entire side has always been the side most affected by cerebral palsy symptoms. Therefore, lefty requires more attention to perform any physical task.
There are times when struggling with the left hand becomes frustrating. Other times the difficulties with the left side of my body involve compensation. In many situations throughout life my left-hand attempts to be hidden. Growing up with cerebral palsy effecting my left side has taught me ways to keep lefty out of the way. Whenever my left hand begins twitching or experiences uncontrolled spasms, I try placing it under my left leg when seated. Often while standing my hands remain in my pockets, again trying to control involuntary movements of lefty. The weight of my leg or pressure from my pocket often helps to calm the spastic gestures of the left hand. Sadly, it seems emotion has become one of the major culprits contributing to involuntary spasms in my left arm. It can occur with positive and negative emotions, both may cause lefty to twitch. Usually the more familiar situations in life have helped the left side of my body remain steady. However, ignoring the left side or trying to hide the movement pattern hasn’t improved anything about the situation. The attempts to hide my left hand, or keep it out of the way haven’t brought much success either. Trying to make up for my left side only seems to cause frustration, having me weary of emotional situations.
The most frequent place my left side becomes frustrating has been on dates. Dating for anyone can seem a nervous experience. We can feel all kinds of emotions while out on dates with someone we enjoy. Often these occasions might include trying to impress the person who has captured our attraction. It can feel challenging to captivate someone when my left-hand refuses to calmly keep still. The situation leaves me juggling how to best compensate for my shaking left hand. With experience, I become pretty good at finding ways to occupy that hand out of sight. When sitting through dinner, the left hand often remains hidden in my lap under the table. When possible the scenario requires an attempted to sit or stand on the left side of my date, keeping my left arm further away from them. The action means all movements can be accomplished with my right arm. Still, it becomes a challenging battle to wage when trying to also be the gentleman. Sitting closer to the door or nearer the exit of the seating row, may call for being on the right side of my date. The anxiety can often hold me out of dating, for fear of embarrassment.
My left hand works best in conjunction with my right hand. The simplest way becomes lefty sort of mimicking the right-handed movements. When the two hands are required to work independently, frustration seems to slowly mount. Often in those dating situations, keeping my hands folded together can help keep the left-hand calm. But, all of these thoughts take away from situations going on around the interactions. When lefty begins to twitch or spasm with emotions of the environment, my concentration seems to move toward the trembling. All of the sudden things may turn into my attempts to keep my body calm. It takes me away, at least partially, from the personal connection that could be happening. However, through my life it has been difficult to understand how improving the frustration might take place. The left arm requires patience to be worked independently of the right. Most every physical activity to this point of my life has involved my arms working together, or my right doing whatever it can to help the left arm. This seems to perpetuate weakness in the left side of my body. Today, my workouts seem to be geared toward helping the left side challenges.
This week began with some fun at the park. My youngest friend has cerebral palsy and we hung out with his family. Like me, his left side became effected by the disability during birth. I have been getting to know his family over the last few months. We played on the jungle gym, while he climbed a small wall, up to the platform, and slid down the slide. They came to the park with two balls for he and his brother to play with. One ball was small and quite springy when it was dropped on any surface. But, the second ball was larger, maybe just bigger than a miniature basketball, and soft. The little guy would role the smaller ball down the slide and off it would roll around the bark chip covered play area. My role at the bottom of the slide, was to retrieve the ball, returning it to be tossed down the slide again. It was fun for me as well. But, when the routine got old, he came down the slide and began playing with the larger, softer ball. While tossing the larger ball into the air joyfully, his mom reminded him to let lefty have a turn, as he continued throwing the ball with his right, easier hand. He would then switch hands, throwing the ball into the air with his left hand. The exercise reminded him to practice with that very hand he might shy away from using. He could develop a tendency to steer away from the cerebral palsy effected side, in the same way it has become my habit. But, maybe with the focus on lefty at his young age, he can learn sooner, to work the left hand independently of the right.
Working with the side of my body most effected by cerebral palsy seems to cause frustrating emotions. There has been a lot more weakness on my left side throughout my life. So, when only using my left arm in the gym, feelings of discouragement can protrude my emotions. Even while knowing working lefty on its own will be best. There have been many ways the trainer has brought lefty into our workouts. Most everything we work on involves weights being lifted on arm at a time. When my arms move together while performing a pushing exercise, my left arm has the ability to mimic the right arm. However, even in the situation where both arms move together, we concentrate on moving the left arm smoothly. Our attempt becomes having both arms joined together at the peak of whatever movement being performed. Both styles of lifting, whether independently moving arms, or attempting smooth movements together, require more concentration. If true strength and stability can be added to my left side, without the help of my right side, we might find ways to improve the challenges of cerebral palsy even further.
Attempting to hide weaknesses seems counterproductive. Even when hiding those things, we struggle with can feel natural. The problem seems to be, if we conceal our struggles, we can’t improve them. The left side of my body should probably be exercised more than my right side. It would be advantageous to build strength in lefty, hoping the gap could close with the right side. In working with my new trainer, this has become his major objective. Even when working the left side of my body on its own becomes discouraging. Whatever exercise we begin, my left side becomes the first to start. It causes me to only work with the weight my left side can stabilize. The process already has felt like a tedious process, however positive results have already begun showing. My balance on the left side has begun improving, making everyday movements easier. The twitching will most likely ease, as control over my left side improves. And the idea of a young boy already focusing on his weak side inspires me to continue pushing through. it’s never too late for improving things that cause us struggle.