It's tricky, but not impossible to get on with your life even with one hand is not working. 

A wonderful resource for this situation is the book One Handed in a Two-Handed World (ISBN #0965280519) by Tommye-K. Mayer, filled with practical tips and tricks by someone who became one handed - and dealt with it. From tying your shoes to doing household repairs one handed - it's all there.

Here are a few suggestions which may be helpful whether you are recovering from a hand problem or anticipating surgery on your hand. Although some of these points are an issue only if your writing hand is affected, most apply to problems involving either hand. Most situations can be managed without the need for special - order adaptive devices.

Before surgery, if you can,

  • Ask for help. Enlist others ahead of time to help with:
    • Child care
    • Housework
    • Meals
  • Practice
    • Dressing
    • Undressing
    • Using the toilet
    • Brushing your teeth
    • Showering
  • Prepare for the first few days after surgery:
    • Open and re-seal cans and bottles you might need.
    • Open medication containers and leave easy to reopen. Then, put these medication containers out of the reach of children, even if you don't expect children visiting.
    • "No-cut" meals - sandwiches, ground meats, etc.
It helps to have...
  • In the shower
    • Plastic bags and rubber bands to cover bandages - the bags that newspapers come in are good to cover the hand and wrist. Otherwise small trash can liners will do. Use two at a time.
    • Bottle sponge (soft sponge on a long stick) - for the armpit of your "good" hand.
    • Shower brush
    • A hair brush in the shower will help you to wash your hair.
    • Cotton terry cloth bathrobe - to dry your back. 
  • In the bathroom
    • Toothpaste, shampoo, etc. in flip-top or pump (not screw top) dispensers.
    • Consider an electric razor.
    • Flossers (dental floss on a "Y" shaped handle). 
  • In the kitchen
    • Dycem mat (rubber jar opener mat) - to help open jars, but also keep things from sliding around while you are working on them. 
    • Double suction cup pads ("little Octopus") - to hold items while you use or wash them.
    • Electric can opener with a lid magnet strong enough to hold the can in the air - for one handed use.
  • In the bedroom
    • Back scratcher.
    • Large sleeve shirts and tops.
    • Put away clothing which buttons, fastens or snaps in the back or which uses drawstrings. 
    • Sports bra or a camisole instead of a bra.
    • L'eggs Sheer Energy nylons can be pulled on one handed - most others can't.
  • A "wash and wear" haircut.
Good luck!

Charles Eaton MD