testing out my new hand

It’s been FOREVER. I know, I know! I’ve taken a very long break from blogging in the past couple years, but I’ve missed it like crazy and now I’m back!

A couple months ago, I decided to look into getting a new prosthesis with more functionality than my passive cosmetic hand. Now I’m about to become a bionic woman over here, and I wanted to make sure I document every moment of the process and provide a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make and use a new myoelectric hand. I’m getting a hand called the BeBionic, which is made by SteeperUSA. It’s absolutely gorgeous and looks futuristic as heck!

I can’t wait to introduce you to my new cyborg hand so, without further ado, here’s a video of my first fitting with the test socket and sensors.

 

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aerial yoga = mission accomplished

Hello! I hope everyone is having a great week so far. I apologize for not having written much lately; I’ve been hard at work on my senior thesis, which is due in May. (I’m writing a book of short stories, which will NOT be published.) Anyway, I wanted to share an update about the bucket list I made for myself. I can now officially cross off “take yoga classes” because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing as of a couple weeks ago.

Two Thursdays ago, I took my first aerial yoga class in a small studio in NYC. Sacred Sounds Yoga is only a few blocks from my office, so I swung by for my first session after work. Let me just mention this before I continue: I am far from a yoga pro. The last time I remember taking a yoga class was in high school at least 5 years ago. But this new studio promised a relaxing hour-and-a-half of soothing yoga and meditation, so I gave it a shot. Armed with my pink floral-patterned yoga mat (which had been sitting in my closet, unused, since the day I bought it) and clad in yoga pants and a fitted tee, I was ready to be rid of the stresses from that day.

I can’t say I was nervous about the class itself, but I kept wondering whether I should wear my prosthetic hand or take it off for the session. I wanted  to feel completely comfortable, so I ultimately decided to leave it in a nearby cubbyhole with the rest of my things. That worked perfectly well for all the aerial exercises we were taught, but I struggled a bit with some of the floor poses. Next time, I’m definitely going to have to keep the prosthesis on hand (ah, bad pun, sorry!) so I can distribute my weight evenly on both arms and not rely solely on my right side. Jen from Born Just Right suggested that I try using a yoga block next time to elongate my left arm without the prosthetic. I’m going to do that this week when I go again.

How-Do-Downward-Facing-Dog-Properly-20968377

For a one-armed person, Downward-Facing Dog can be a real bitch (yes, there’s another terrible pun)

Besides the hand-or-no-hand situation, aerial yoga was pretty awesome. It’s a surprisingly relaxing experience to be hanging upside down from the ceiling with nothing but a silk hammock holding you in place. I’m being dramatic, though; the aerial poses really weren’t tough at all, and I think anyone with average flexibility would do just fine. And in case you’re considering taking up this style of yoga, here are a few tips I picked up in my limited experience with the practice:

– If you have an obvious physical disability, clear it with the studio before you schedule a session. I emailed the receptionist a few days before I went in order to make sure the teachers would be okay with a one-armed student taking their classes. I like to warn people that I’m a little different and reassure them that I’ll be fine with what the class requires of me physically. This prepares them with enough time so they don’t freak out about how to handle the situation when they see me.

– If you have long hair, tie it back (unless you want to sweep the floor under your hammock).

– Wear fitted clothing. I almost wore an oversized t-shirt to the session but wisely changed my mind at the last minute. If I would have worn my original choice, I definitely would have flashed everyone when attempting the upside-down poses.

– Get a pedicure the night before. This was me being purely self-conscious, but I kept thinking about how my toes probably looked ugly with the mostly-chipped red polish I’d left on after my last pedicure. You’re barefoot during the session, so make sure your feet look presentable.

– Clear your mind and leave all your nagging thoughts at the door. Seriously, yoga is SUPER relaxing. I was calm and mellow for several days after the session.

Those are all the tips I have for now. I’ll update you if any helpful advice pops up later. For now, I’m happy knowing that I can already cross my first goal off this year’s bucket list:

 goals 2

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

 

(First two images found on Pinterest)

 

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media monday – lauren scruggs shows off her many prosthetic hands

Remember the news story of the tragic accident last December when a young model and fashion blogger lost her left hand and eye after walking into the propeller of a plane? Well, just shy of a year later, Lauren Scruggs has released a memoir about her experience and recovery. Still Lolo: A Spinning Propeller, a Horrific Accident, and a Family’s Journey of Hope is now in bookstores, and I plan to read it as soon as I get my hand on it. Since I was born without my arm, I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone just a few years older than I am now to deal with such a huge change.

In the video above, Lauren talks a bit about each of her prosthetic hands and what they do. She has everything from a hand specifically designed to help her do push-ups to a swimming hand with a paddle attached to the end (which I would LOVE to get, if anyone has any information on that).

I hope Lauren’s indomitable spirit inspires you on this Monday morning as you start the week after a nice, long Thanksgiving break!

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

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tuesdays with mari and the rest of the gang

Hello and happy Tuesday! It’s been an interesting day so far. An incident that occurred this morning has made me realize that I’ve probably forgotten to disclose some pretty big information to anyone reading this blog: how my short arm came to be the way it is. I was at work talking to some co-workers (the fabulous Mari, Alyssa, and Liz) when a former employee moseyed on in and struck up a conversation with us. One of his first comments upon meeting me was about my arm. He wanted to know why I was wearing a single black silk glove a la Michael Jackson. (The reason for that, in case you’re wondering, is because the “skin” of the prosthetic attracts ink from newspapers/magazines/books/anything and gets really dark, which makes me look like a white girl with a black girl’s arm.) Anyway, the guy looked pretty embarrassed and uncomfortable after I told him that the arm was fake. Once he got over that, though, he asked me how I “lost” it. That’s when the girls I work with admitted that they had always wondered about it but were too nervous about potentially offending me to ask. I find that really funny, since I’ve known them for so long. So here’s the story for anyone who’s too shy to ask me!

While I’d love to tell you a super cool story about a dangerous encounter with a vicious tiger or something like that, the reality is pretty boring: I was born this way. That’s really all I know about it. My mom had a perfectly healthy pregnancy (despite miscarrying two other babies at the time, since I was supposed to be a triplet.) She didn’t do anything weird or unusual, and she wasn’t exposed to any crazy chemicals or radioactive stuff. My arm was a complete surprise. It just never developed into a normal arm, I guess.

My parents had me fitted for my first prosthetic when I was three months old. I’ve been wearing an artificial arm ever since. I only really use it when I’m in public, though. It’s way too uncomfortable and annoying to wear when I’m around my family or people I know well. The one you usually see me with is purely cosmetic, meaning it doesn’t do anything. The one I have at home is Myoelectric and opens/closes like a real flesh-and-blood arm. So yeah, I’m part bionic.  🙂

That’s basically the whole story. There’s nothing tragic or inspirational about it. It is what it is. Oh, and please don’t ever be nervous about asking me questions. I’m NOT easily offended, not unless you start to pity me. (Pity’s just one of those useless sentiments that does no one any good. I’ve got a GREAT life, so you don’t need to feel bad for me because I naturally weigh two or so fewer pounds (or however much a forearm weighs) than the average girl my height and pay half-price for manicures. Really, I’m doing well.) I’d actually prefer it if you asked me about my arm. I get it – you’re curious. That’s human. So go ahead and ask so that you don’t feel awkward around me. After all, it’s just another quality that makes me me. I have brown eyes, curly hair, and one arm. It’s not a bad thing, but it IS different. And it’s totally natural to want to know more about something that’s different.

Peace,
Caitlin 🙂

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media monday – april lockhart’s different

  I was sooo excited when I found this video a few days ago because this is the first time I’ve seen another one-armed girl playing guitar! And she’s sooo good! This just goes to show that if you really want to do something, you just need to put in the work and do it. A disability is not the end of the world nor is it a deterrent to your dreams.


  On another note, I really want a guitar prosthetic like hers. It’s way cooler than duct-taping a pick to your little arm.


Peace,
Caitlin

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