05:34:46 pm on
Sunday 23 Jun 2024

Diminishing Capacity
AJ Robinson

M*A*S*H has always been a favourite television show of mine. As a teen, I watched it every afternoon after school. One of the local television channels had it on twice a day, from five to six pm; again, from seven to eight pm, so I saw every episode several times, four day. The show made me laugh and e cry and had some truly touching moments.

I remember one in particular, “Morale Victory,” because it involved Major Winchester, whom was usually so cool and aloof. He’d operated on a soldier and had to tell him his use of his right hand had diminished, permanently, in its dexterity. The soldier was devastated.

He was a concert pianist.

Charles tried to counsel him, but he failed. He, Charles, talked to Father Mulcahy of how his bedside manner was lacking in comparison to the other doctors. Finally, he obtained copies of Ravel’s “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand” and encouraged the man to continue playing, even in a limited fashion.

Eventually the patient does perform, again, much to Winchester’s great glee. Well, I’m not a piano player or any sort of great artist, but I do love to write, and recently I found myself slightly diminished.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m fifty-four, so I’m starting to get up there in years and between writing and working as an engineer. I work on the computer a great deal.

It’s my left hand. I’m losing dexterity in a couple fingers and the ring finger is getting, well, I guess you could say “floppy” or even “flaccid.” It tends to hang down and get in the way of the other fingers as I type. It’s caused me considerable trouble when I try to work on my novels and short stories. I can’t type as fast, I hit the wrong keys and I keep backing up to correct things.

It’s very irritating.

I realize it’s just a minor inconvenience, but it does affect a vital area of my life: typing. When you’re an engineer and an author, your hands are your life. In that respect, the pianist and I are alike, and so, like him, I have to adjust.

I find that if I curl two or three of my fingers inward, I can keep that limp digit out of the way. Now, it does mean that I don’t have as many fingers to type with, which does slow me down, but, for now, it’s all I can go.

It does get me to wonder though what’s next for me. Will the other fingers start to weaken or maybe become arthritic? What about the right hand, will it diminish? Of course, this minor flaccid finger might spread to my elbows, shoulders and so on. Yeah, the human body can be a regular cornucopia of physical ailments.

I know it’s just part of growing old, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, and I’m not about to take it lying down. My dad was always telling me that getting older did not mean you had to get old. Well, my mom is ninety-one and she’s still feisty and active.

I'll fight to maintain my capacities and not let any of them diminish.

I think I’ll take my cue from both of them and fight this tooth and nail. Maybe I can do some exercises or flexing activities to improve my dexterity. I sure hope so; writing is a very big part of my life, and I do not want to give it up anytime soon.

If that day ever does come, I’ll be sure to post a final goodbye and not leave my readers wondering what happened to me. I only hope that last article is a great many years down the road. For now, it is a distance sight, I hope.


Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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