Here’s the most surprising thing about covering news as a man with only one fully-functioning arm: Nearly everybody sees my arm in a sling and assumes that my injury occurred during an act of physical violence with another human being.
In particular, they tend to assume that the injury came during a physical altercation with an aggrieved interviewee.
My explanation that it occurred “during a bizarre gardening accident” tends to disappoint universally. “You need to come up with a better story” is the typical rejoinder, perhaps because people assume that I’m well-practiced in delivering stories that are rooted entirely in fantasy.
For the first few days after the injury, my workplace experiences included a fair amount of cold panic. I learned to type at age ten. The idea of having to look at the keyboard while hunting-and-pecking with the middle finger of my robo-hand was more than an inconvenience. It was a mindf&ck. An act that was second-nature — typing — had become a bothersome ordeal, upending my sense of routine and timing that had helped me retain the confidence to write stories that made sense and made deadline.
It also hurt to type. I have to keep the right hand raised above the keyboard in order to avoid hitting stray keys with the part of the cast that covers my right palm. (On my Windows computer at work, these stray keys sometimes want to launch commands to do things like shut down the computer.) The combination of the raised hand, the unnatural muscle movements and the broken wrist brought on pain that only added to the panic.
Within a couple of weeks, the hand adapted and the pain subsided. The mind has returned more-or-less to normal. But it has killed my typing accuracy. Dashing off emails and blog posts and whatnot are no fun nowadays.
I do endorse the use of Dragon. I shouldn’t have purchased the program for my computer. It’s a free download on the Iphone. Instead of logging interviews via keyboard, I listen to them and repeat the noteworthy material verbally into Dragon, including time codes and punctuation (kinda like a court reporter using a Stenomask). Dragon emails the material to me unfailingly. I may never go back to logging interviews by keyboard.
But I do look forward to the day that I can. And to the day I can stop wearing short-sleeved dress shirts.