Chapter Three – The Lunch

 

            I gave in and we stopped off at a nice restaurant.

            “Okay Tami, are you ready to face the world as an arm amputee?” Nancy asked.

            “I am scared out of my mind,” I replied.

            “Just try to act natural and try to forget you have only hooks for hands.”

            “Easy for you to say,” I said with a little laugh.

            We entered the restaurant. Nancy held the door for me. I know people were staring at me when we were being seated. I immediately tried to hide my hooks by putting them in my lap. The waitress came to the table and I know she saw my hooks immediately. She put the menus in front of us. I tried to handle the menu, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the skills yet. I felt so helpless. Nancy helped me decide on my meal and we ordered.

            “I don’t think I will ever get used to these hooks,” I said.

            “Give it time. A few months from now and you will feel like you have always had them.”

            “You really think so?”

            “Sure,” Nancy said reassuringly. “It just takes time. Eventually they will feel more natural.”

            When our food came Nancy cut up my sandwich into little pieces and then helped me hold a fork in my right hook.

            “I am cutting your food up so you can just eat with a fork,” Nancy explained. “Open your right hook and I will help place the fork in your hook.”

            I did as she said and let my hook close on the handle of the fork. I tentatively speared a piece of food and managed to get it in my mouth. I had to pull it off the side of my hook. I now realized how much more difficult things were because of my rigid elbow hinges. I couldn’t rotate my hook except by moving my elbow away from my body. I knew I would have to learn how to rotate my hooks in their wrist units.  I felt a little better, but it was very difficult going. Lucky I could drink my Coke with a straw.

            “She’s new at this isn’t she?” the waitress said when she came over.

            “Yes. This is her first meal using her new hooks,” Nancy explained.

            “I am so sorry, but I am sure things will get better. Let me know if there is anything special you need,” the girl said. I was so embarrassed. I was starting to realize how things would be now that I needed hooks to do everything.

            I struggled through my meal but managed to eat almost everything. We ordered coffe and Nancy instructed me in how to hold the handle on the coffee mug without spilling it. She had to put the sweetner and cream in it for me. I  couldn’t do that yet. I was dieing for a cigarette.

            “God I need a cigarette,” I pleaded. “How could I hold one though.”

            To my amazement Nancy removed a cigarette holder from her purse and inserted a cigarette. She held it out for me and I managed to grasp it in my hook. Nancy had to rotate my hook for me to get the holder in a better position and then she lit the cigarette for me. I started to relax a little and was even able to drink my coffee and smoke at the same time. I was actually getting along to some extent. We chatted and had another cup of coffee. By the time we were ready to leave I was much less self conscious. Before we left I realized I had to pee.

            “I have to use the ladies room Nancy. I think I need help,” I said.

            “Sure Tami. I understand. Let’s go.”

            We went into the handicap stall and Nancy helped me get my pantyhose and panties down so I could pee. This was pretty humiliating. Another woman never had to help me with this routine task. I knew I would have to learn to get my panties up and down myself.

            “No more pantyhose if you want to do this by yourself,” Nancy stated. “You will just run them trying to get them up. And you need snaps or Velcro on your pants and skirts as well. You can’t manage buttons with your hooks,” Nancy explained.

            Before we left the ladies room Nancy combed my hair and touched up my makeup.

            “You will be doing this yourself eventually, but it will take lots of practice. The things you used to take for granted are now going to be major challenges.”

            “I can’t believe how handicapped I feel right now,” I said.

            “I know hon. It’s hard. Needing two hooks is very tough. You will look back on this and laugh a little when you can do things better. Eventually it will only be a few things that frustrate you. Having hooks is never going to be easy though. You will remain a very handicapped woman. At least for six months. On the other hand, you will find you can lead a pretty normal life once you start to forget about the hooks. Just try to do things the way you normally would. A lot of what we do doesn’t require much use of our hands. Your hooks will work fine for a lot of things. Now let’s go shopping.”

            “Shopping?” I asked.

            “Sure. There are some things we need to buy for you to make your life with hooks a little easier,” Nancy said.

 

Chapter Four