Meet Mr. Hand - It's pretty cool when your doctor has a sense of humor...

Meet Mr. Hand – It’s pretty cool when your doctor has a sense of humor…

So there I was, sitting on the examination table in the orthopedist office, the doctor manipulating my right hand and digits. He asks, “Does it hurt when I put pressure here?” A “yeow” escapes from my lips a nanosecond later. A few days earlier, I had been in the process of loading my truck for a weekend show, when I felt a “snap” in the palm of my hand, followed by a searing pain that registered somewhere near child birth or licking a high tension power line.

The doc looks at the images of my hand’s inner working and says, “It looks like you’ve sprained a tendon that runs down your finger and into your hand. We’re going to have to immobilize this for a while. No mousing or texting.” Reaching for a brace and tape, he adds, “… And you shouldn’t lift anything heavy for another week or so.”

“So, what exactly do you mean by heavy,” I asked.

“Nothing over three pounds,” he replied.

My mind immediately went into gear, trying to come up with household items that were about that weight. My doctor, recognizing my next obvious question, noted, “Nothing heavier than a half-gallon of milk.”

With my mental melon skipping directly to top gear, and creating a no-no list, I started sweating, as I entered freak-out mode: I couldn’t hold a camera, let alone with a lens attached; stretching canvas orders were out of the question; and forget about lifting any of my larger display pieces or pint bins at a show. Plus, I’m right dominant – my left hand has only known supporting roles. How the heck was I supposed to brush my teeth?

Driving back from the medial center, my hand bound like a zip-tied burrito, I called my wife (yes, using a hands-free Bluetooth device), who was away on business. “So, what’s the news?” Her voice crackled over the speaker. As I filled her in on the prognosis, I could hear her chuckling.

“What’s so funny?” I inquired.

“I get to turn you into a lefty!” She laughed. “Now you get to feel my pain.”

If you haven’t guessed, she’s a lefty, and a Virgo, so I knew I was screwed. I was going to have to start living lefty in a righty world. It’s a process, and it isn’t easy. Besides writing like a cave man and eating like I did some 44 years ago (thank goodness for sippy cups and splat mats), I’ve reset my Wacom tablet for left-handed function, typing with one hand is a tedious process, and I’ve gotten really good at running a straight line of ATG tape when mounting prints.

The downer is taking pictures. With about 10% of the world’s population being left-handed, there are no factory-made, left-handed DSLR cameras in production. However, there are several third party adapters (essentially allowing you to hold the camera upside-down with the left hand) available, but nothing that replicates a common DSLR, right-hand grip.

Thank goodness for tripods and cable releases.

So while hand-holding my cameras is truly a pain, my trusty Gitzo tripod replaces my right hand, while the left does double duty making adjustments and triggering the shutter. The adjustment isn’t easy, but it’s a challenge I’ve embraced. So for all the years I’ve watched lefty’s struggle with righty scissors, cameras and un-ergonomic can openers, I feel your pain.