Chapter Six – Tami’s New Stumps

 

            The next morning Nancy showed up just after I got up. I tried not to use my hands, but couldn’t resist the temptation. I felt guilty when Nancy came in. She sensed this.

            “You used your hands didn’t you?”

            “Well I guess I slipped up,” I said sheepishly.

            “Not a big deal, it won’t happen again even if you wanted to,” Nancy said.

            I had no idea what she meant. How could she stop me? I vowed to try harder not to cheat. Little did I know that what Nancy had in mind would take away any possibility that I would ever be able to cheat. After Nancy helped me with bathing and dressing I was once again wearing my hooks for the day. I had on a nice short denim skirt and a grey sweatshirt. I also had on white Reeboks and white athletic socks. I liked this casual look. Nancy put a pair of gold studs in my pierced ears and a gold chain around my neck. The chain was not one of mine. Nancy had brought it with her. Instead of just fastening it around my neck she ran it down my back and looped it through the large ring that was positioned just below my neck that anchored the straps of my harness. She then used a tiny padlock to lock the ends together.

            “Tami, this chain will absolutely prevent you from removing your hooks. You won’t be able to shrug off your harness and the chain won’t reach over your head. Unless I remove it you will need to keep your hooks on. Of course the chain could be cut with heavy cutters, but then I would know. I am going to need to leave you for some time today and I want to make sure you don’t cheat.”

            I never expected this, but I understood that the temptation to remove my prosthesis might be very strong if I were alone.

            “So do you think you can keep yourself busy by yourself today? I know you can get yourself a drink and a snack. Going to the bathroom shouldn’t be a problem now. You have done that before,” Nancy said.

            “Sure, I can practice some housekeeping and I want to try holding a pen and writing. I can watch some TV too. When will you be back?” I asked.

            “Late afternoon,” Nancy replied. “Got to go now. I have an appointment with your prosthetist.”

            Nancy left and I was all alone knowing I was not going to be able to get out of my hooks, not that I thought I would want to. I spent the morning straightening up around the house. I found I could do most things, but I tried to use the washing machine and I couldn’t manage to turn the controls. I was quite frustrated. All of a sudden I felt very handicapped. I turned my attention to things I knew I could do and that made me feel better.

            Around noon I got hungry. I was able to make myself a sandwich. I kind of crushed things with my hooks, but managed anyway. I decided to eat with a knife and fork. That was a good idea and I knew I was getting better holding the knife and fork with my hooks. I had some trouble getting the top off a bottle of soda. Fortunately it had been removed before and wasn’t on too tight. I used my teeth to grip it. I turned on the TV and ate my lunch. After that I took a short nap.

            When I got up I decided to try writing. I got a piece of paper and a ball point pen. At first I could barely read what I wrote. The pen kept slipping. Little by little I improved and eventually I could actually write legibly, although not in the best handwriting. This was another achievement to add to my growing list of hook skills.

            Nancy got back around five. I was happy to see her. She had a bag of groceries and a large box containing something else. She left it on the table and didn’t comment about it. I just knew this was the surprise she had arranged with my prosthetist. We spent the next hour or so cooking dinner. I helped as best as I could and Nancy suggested ways I could do some things I didn’t think I could do by myself. Finally we ate our dinner of sole topped with lemon butter, rice, and vegetables. A garden salad and two bottles of white wine topped things off. Nancy got the corks out of the wine bottles. I suspected I could never do that by myself. For desert we had key lime pie and coffee. I felt very relaxed and a little high on the wine. Nancy and I spent the rest of the evening watching a movie on one of the pay per view cable channels and drinking another bottle of wine.

            “Well Tami, ready for your surprise?” Nancy asked with a sly smile on her face.

            “I guess so,” I replied.

            “It’s time you experienced what it’s like having arm stumps. You need to start bathing yourself as well. I have the solution in this box,” Nancy said as she opened the box she had brought.

            Nancy removed two tubular devices that looked like sockets for a prosthesis except there were no hooks. Instead the ends were tapered and rounded to look like arm stumps. The length looked like the same length as the sockets on my regular prosthesis. Nancy also removed what looked like two flesh colored latex covers for the sockets as well as a pair of short stump socks.

            “So are you ready to take your hooks off and start using your new stumps?” Nancy asked.

            “I guess so,” I said timidly.

            Nancy helped me out of my sweatshirt, unlocked the chain around my neck and removed my prosthesis. Before I did anything she slipped the stump socks over my curled up hands. She then held one of the new sockets for me to slip my hand into. I felt something as it slipped in. It was a slightly smaller diameter ring of some sort inside. My hand bottomed out in its usual curled up position. I noticed a small hole in the tube just above where my wrist joint would be. Nancy then inserted a small tool like the key to wind a clock. She rotated it a number of turns. I felt something tighten slightly around my arm just above the wrist.

            “Okay Tami, try to pull your hand out,” Nancy instructed. I couldn’t do it. “There is a plastic band inside that works like a hose clamp. I can tighten it up with this special key so you can’t remove your hand. You will never loosen up the band without this special key which, of course, you won’t have. You won’t need to worry about being tempted to cheat.”

            I never expected something like this. I wouldn’t be able to uncurl my hands except for a few seconds a day. I wasn’t sure I liked this idea. Nancy finished off the fitting by slipping the latex covers over the sockets.

            “These will make your stumps waterproof and grip somewhat like real skin would. You can now feel just like an arm amp 24 hours a day. How do you like them?” Nancy asked.

            “I guess they’re okay,” I said reluctantly.

            “Well I have to go now, so let’s get you into your nightie. You can relax and enjoy your new stumps without worrying about cheating. Try doing things with them. Tomorrow I can help you bathe yourself using them.”

            After Nancy left I experimented with my stumps. I found I could pick large items up and do some things using them. However, I really appreciated my hooks now that I knew what stumps were like. My only thought was that these were on to stay until Nancy used the special key to remove them. I finally went to bed and fell asleep wearing my new stumps. I dreamed that I was a real arm amputee and only had small stumps below my shoulders.

 

Chapter Seven