Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I don't typically notice my thumb.

This week, though, I have been thoroughly disabled for the first time in the year and a bit that I've been in the wheelchair. I don't know how it happened but I badly sprained my thumb. Suddenly, I'm immobile without help. I use my hands to push me about and can get from place to place easily and well.

Now I sit and wait while Joe runs into the store, or read the paper when he grabs lunch to bring it back to the car. I don't want him to have to push me everywhere, he's getting older too. So, I sit and mourn the loss of my thumb.

To look at me you'd think that I was disabled because of my legs but it's my thumb that brought me down.

Somehow this seems very important to me.

I can't tell you how many times, when doing assessments of others, that I haven't noticed the thumb. I can see the problem behaviour, that's easy. I can see the concern of those who care, that's even easier. But it's hard to see the thumb.

One guy I did a huge assessment on, had all sorts of ideas for why his behaviour had deteriorated. We investigated everything. He looked unwell, so he saw a doctor. He looked sad, so he saw a psychiatrist. Everyone had ideas. Everyone had plans.

So, after being called to his home to deal with yet another tantrum. Another outburst. I went and sat with him. Told him I didn't know what to do. How to help him.

"Change it back," he said. Crying.

"I'd change things back if only I could," I said, not understanding.

"But you can," he said, "everyone can but no one will."

I was lost.


"Can you show me what needs changed?"

He nodded and took me by the hand and led me to his room. I stood at the door and watched as he went in and turned on the radio. Rock music poured out. "Change it back. Please."

"You want your radio changed back?" I asked. He nodded.

Turns out we couldn't change it back. The station he listened to had changed formats and now, instead of country it played rock.

We found a country station.

We changed it back.

So did he.

The thumb.

I didn't notice the thumb.


Susan said...

I love this post, Dave!

Another "print it off and share it" post.

Thanks yet again!

Jodi said...

Hi Dave and all,
There has been an update on the Ashley Treatment case. For today's press release see:

I feel this is very good news for the disability community.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience last fall:

Just goes to show that not all keystones are large things!