Elbow Power

Who really thinks about how powerful the elbow really is? As a person born with one hand I find myself deeply contemplating the power of an elbow. This is because for me just to have an elbow on the arm that does not have a hand is so much a part of who I am. In Blog 15 of my “40 Blogs in 40 Days of my first 40 Podcasts” campaign of one-handed insights I discuss what lead me to realize the power of an elbow.

The elbow is specific to humans and other primates. The elbow joint is the synovial hinge joint between the humerus in the upper arm and the radius and ulna in the forearm, which allows the forearm, and hand to be moved towards and away from the body. In many of my professional speaking presentations I talk about how thankful I am for my elbow. I truly believe it is an under appreciated part of the body for most people. Unless of course you injury your elbow. Then you become more aware of how beneficial and powerful an elbow can be.

I remember when I broke my right collarbone (Clavicle) snowboarding. I took a big jump, followed by a bad landing, and resulting in a broken right collarbone. This was quite the experience for me. I guess I never gave too much thought to what the collarbone does until I could not use it. The collarbone connects the arm to the trunk of the body and acts as a strut to keep the scapula in place so that the arm can hang freely. Additionally, It also distributes much of the weight being held by the hand. Not having my left hand and then breaking my right collarbone allowed me to more appreciate how it works. For a short time it was like I did not have any hands. I was unable to lift, push or hold heavier objects. It was a very difficult time for me. Very basic activities became huge challenges to overcome and accomplish. Getting dressed, eating, taking a shower, and going to the bathroom all became so difficult with no left hand and a broken right collarbone. It was in this time I really started to see the power of my elbow.

I know this sounds a bit odd considering I just wrote an entire paragraph about my broken collarbone and this blog is about elbow power. But it was having that broken bone and the resulting limitations, which allowed me to see what my elbow could do. At that time I could not lift, push or pull, or even hold heavier objects. Even trying to get a drink of water from a glass was painful. (Long live the straws!) However, I could hold, lift and manipulate lighter objects. But this was accomplished with my elbow. Just to have the ability to move my right forearm, and only hand, toward and away from my body was a blessing. I could bring small amounts of food and water to my mouth. If I was real careful I could unbuckle my pants and zipper to visit the bathroom. When I had an itch to scratch on my face, neck, or torso I was able to do it. This was all based on not applying the force needed to activate my collarbone. I always knew when I crossed that line because the pain was unbearable. Simply to be able to bend my elbow to move my only hand toward my body allowed me to see, experience, and be grateful of the power of an elbow.

After I started to heal I did spend a lot of time reflecting on that short period of time when it was like “not having two hands.” I stated to notice I spent more time thinking about my elbow. I thought about how much the elbow’s simple motion did for me. But it was the following year when I really paid attention to the power of my left elbow. This is because the following spring I broke my left collarbone taking a hard fall off my bicycle. The only two bones I have ever broken were both collarbones and both within one year of each other. This was a very different experience. My left arm has no hand. I do have an elbow and about three and a half inches of a forearm. Therefore, having a broken left collarbone was not the same as breaking the side that has the hand. Since I was born with one hand I was used to doing most things with my right arm and hand. What I did realize by having a broken left collarbone was how much I actually used my left arm and elbow. This was so apparent because I was unable to use them the way I usually do. You never know what you have until it’s gone.

Not being able to use my left arm to articulate and help my right arm and hand was an enlightening time. I must say it was not as bad as the breaking my right collarbone. However, It did allow me to see how much I actually used my left arm and especially my left elbow. Since I could not lift, push or pull, or “hold” anything with my left arm I really started to notice my left elbow. Yes my left arm has no hand. But it does have an elbow and a small forearm. And similar to the qualities my right elbow served me with a broken right collarbone, I started to truly see the power my elbow on my left side. This is when I realized how powerful it is having an elbow on my non-handed arm. Again, not being able to move my arm but have use of the elbow was a blessing. It was at this point I began to deeply contemplate my left elbow. I realized a deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation. I guess I started to see all the things I do and how I articulate with my left elbow more clearly. I realized my life would be so different if I did not have an elbow or the three and half inches of a forearm on my left side. Or how so much more vastly different my life would be if I did not have a left arm at all. This is not to say I could not do the things I do right now. I would just do them in a different way.

In this podcast I share with you the power of an elbow. To hear the full story I invite you to click and listen to my One Hand Speaks Storytelling Podcast Episode OHS016. Please feel free to share this blog or my podcast and I ask you to offer a comment with your opinion and feedback! Thanks! 

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