My cousin Joe has labeled my right arm my “dead arm.” When he first said it several years ago, his mom, my aunt, didn’t think this was very nice. I didn’t care. He was eight years old and that’s exactly what he saw — my dead arm. He’s pointed it out several times, teased me about it, and is not intimidated by my dead arm.
The fact of the matter is that it’s not really dead. I just can’t lift it very high on its own. I use my left arm to help lift my right arm when I need to drink from a cup or eat or lift something. The arm just appears dead because it doesn’t appear to do all that much by itself.
But it does.
My dead arm can type. I am typing this right now with my dead arm. It can write. It can hold a cello bow and with help can make music. My dead arm can grip a tennis racket, and with momentum from my wheelchair side-arm a tennis ball to a 90% first serve percentage. It can grasp onto anything. It can shake your hand. Most importantly, it can steer my wheelchair using the joystick.
As my cousin has gotten older, it’s more fun to tease him back about it. Over the summer I finally had an opportunity to say “Hey my dead arm might not be able to lift a drink by itself but if I use my other arm to help it, this dead arm can smack you upside the head!”
Lucky for him he didn’t wait around for a demonstration.