Until now, I have completely overlooked the world of prop making and cosplay. This is a world dedicated to making “modifications” to the makes complete sense for my project. But then this wouldn’t be a journey if I had thought of it right away, right?
Here is my first attempt with mouldable plastic.
My friends and I listen to a lot of hip hop music, devour the culture and like to talk about it, so to feed our healthy levels of narcissism we decided to begin recording these conversations.
I dive into things, try the first thought that comes to my mind and then step back to evaluate. I started my hand project by building a few prototypes but they have been dismal attempts.
I stepped back and did two things. The first was to see if there is a product on the market for situations similar to mine — which there is — and the second was to investigate the exact science behind my injury. A large cotton harvester fell on me and now I don’t have some of the muscles on the right side of my body and can’t open my right hand. But what exactly happened inside my body during the accident?
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I began by finding a family doctor. In Canada’s publicly funded health care system, everything starts with your GP. They are the hub of all your medical needs and are required for referrals to specialized care: in my case a neurologist.
It was here that I had two tests administered on me. The first, a nerve conduction test. It consists of manually manipulating the nerves in the area of my injury and seeing how they react. The examination was a combination of being shocked up and down my arm at increasing voltages followed by having needles stuck in to the arm’s nerves.
Next was the MRI. During the scan, I had to lie on a bed while a noisy machine around me created a 3D image of my upper body. This wouldn’t have been a problem had I not been battling a cough at the time. Each images takes about 10 minutes and I needed to be as still as possible for the clearest picture. I tried not to think about coughing … so all I could think about was coughing.
When the accident happened, the impact of the large cotton picker landing on me ripped one of the rootlets off of my spinal cord and overstretched 3 other nerves. More specifically, it tore one of the rootlets at the C7 section of my spine and the overstretched the nerves from C4 – C6. The overstretched nerves explain why I have little to no pec, lat and tricep muscles. The nerve attached at C7 is in charge of feeding the and extensors in the hand. (I am over simplifying so to learn more about the human spine, check out this Wikipedia article.)
Our nerves are in charge of sending signals to our muscles to activate. The brain says “hey, do this,” the nerve relays that command and then the muscle does as asked. Like most humans, the muscles in our bodies only do the bare minimum required and if they aren’t told to do anything, they wither. Because of the tear and only being 3 years old when it happened, the tricep and extensors in my right arm have never grown.
I could get surgery. But the procedure would not be to reconnect the torn rootlet to my spinal cord, it would be be taking the bicep nerve in my right arm and attaching it to the tricep nerve (who’s rootlet has been torn.) The bicep nerve would be doing double duty and have to learn how to feed multiple signals throughout my arm. This is a highly specialized surgery and would require intense rehab. Because this accident happened so long ago, my neurologist adamantly discouraged this procedure.
So having learnt all of this, besides doing stretches and strength building exercises, the only remaining option is to continue working on building the assistive device I am calling “My Hand Project.”
Designing the glove for my hand project has been quite difficult so I found a one that I can reverse engineer. The glove (properly known as a splint) is manufactured by Benik and known as the W-700. It is most commonly used by stroke victims.
This above video is about what it takes to put on the glove.
My plan is to wear this splint for a while and test it in day to day use.
My day started at 2 am. It started at 2 am because I was scheduled in for a 4:30 am MRI.
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I am trying to find out exactly what happened to my body as a result of the accident. A few weeks ago I did part one of the examination: a nerve conduction test. I was poked and prodded with needles throughout my right arm and shoulder to see which nerves reacted and which ones are dead in the water … or body.
Today, I was being scanned so that I can ‘see’ exactly what’s going on in my body.
— — —
Not wanting to be late, I arrived early and took a seat on the park bench next to the hospital.
“Want to buy some crack?” asked a rather rough looking gentleman.
“What’s that in your hand” he inquired with a rather forward tone.
A weathered woman was now walking in my direction. Perhaps it’s better I hang out in the waiting room.
Garbed up in the rather flattering gown above, I tried my best not to move. The key to a good MRI scan is to be as still as possible but fighting off a fit of allergetic coughs is a Herculean task when stuck in such a claustrophobic chamber. 45 minutes to think about not coughing.
And since my day job is so close to the hospital, I tried to grab a couple hours of sleep on the boardroom floor but kept waking every half hour from a nightmarish I-am-being-attacked-in-my-dreams-but-can’t-wake-up dream.
The other option would have been to go home just in time to go back to the office.
During the day the discussion at work revolved primarily around how death by global warming is imminent, all the while hacking up my lungs.
I went to see my sister in the evening and we discussed the struggles my little nephew will face entering the school system.
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But joy is not found in a day, it must be created, no matter how small. So between leaving the office and going to my sisters, I picked up the chocolate of the gods: Ferrero Rocher. If nothing else, I wanted to share a little something sweet at the end of the day.
Walking home there was something refreshing in the light drizzle cooling me down and cleansing my face. I think everything’s going to be alright.
I’ve long subscribed to the adage that “the first step is the hardest,” but my views on that have shifted slightly. I think steps Two, Three and Four are the really tough ones. When I start anything there is a certain nativity to what will be involved but after getting started, the truth sets in: it will be more work and effort then I had anticipated. Staying committed early is the real challenge.
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I had an hour and a half streetcar ride home so I pulled out my notebook, drew a few lines, squinted at it for a few seconds and then drew a couple more.
God it looked ugly. It resembled a dated nineties barbed wire tattoo. I was ready to give up but the goal was to see this through: sketch until I was home.
I began to fill in the shapes and it started to turn around.
This is by no means a masterpiece, rather an exercise in commitment.
I kinda dig it.
A few years ago, I actively ran a Mennonite Blog sharing my experience growing up. I received a lot of messages which generally fit into one of three categories: a fellow Mennonite bashing me, curious people with random questions or those who are looking to be “saved.” I got another of the later today:
i really wish to renounce the abomination of what america has become today. it is clear to me that if i do not take actions i will go down “pun inteded” with the ship. i am asking how and where is there a mennonite community near south carolina. now i am pretty much a homeless man because if you are not a proud sinner there are no job really in my town. luckily my grandmother is a wonderful christian and has allowed me to house here for a week or two. so i guess what i am truly asking is there any way i can join a community and be saved? i have many wonderful skills i can offer.
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