Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

I’ve never been so happy to hang laundry on the line June 30, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I KNOW THIS PHOTO is not particularly creative, interesting or exciting. I snapped it with my cell phone because I am unable to use my much heavier and bulkier Canon DSLR due to a right shoulder fracture.

But to me this image represents healing, recovery, progress, accomplishment. For the first time in nearly six weeks, I hung laundry on the line yesterday. To do this again gives me joy. Yes, I am a hanging-laundry-on-the-line fanatic.

But how did I manage one-armed and especially with my laundry room down a flight of stairs in the basement? Planning.

The husband provided some start-up assistance by taking the dirty towels and sheets to the basement before leaving for work. Once the first load was done, I continued with my plan.

I strategically placed an empty laundry basket on the rag rug just inside the kitchen door then headed downstairs. As I pulled bedding from the washing machine, I placed the sheets and pillowcases on the edge of the appliance. I then carried them upstairs in the crook of my left arm. Yes, I took the steps slow and steady because the last thing I want is to reinjure my healing right humerus by falling.

Once in the kitchen, I dumped the wet bedding into the laundry basket, propped open the exterior door and used my hip, left side and left arm to wrangle the basket onto the back steps. The movable clothesline stretches across the patio just out the back door.

Then with some careful draping and clothespins in hands and mouth, I managed to secure the sheets to the line.

Since my May 22 fall and resulting bone break, I’ve been unable to do many basic household tasks. Everything in general requires much more time and effort. It’s exhausting. Preparing a simple salad for lunch, for example, takes upwards to a half hour. I wash and slice with a left hand that has not adapted well to being the dominant appendage. It’s rather comical at times to watch myself.

I am frustrated by the difficulty or impossibility of doing simple things—opening a stubborn plastic clamshell, pulling apart bunched bananas, opening a can of food, closing a storm window, clipping my toenails, shaving my underarms, shutting a car door, tightening my belt, putting in my earrings, slipping on a shirt…

These tasks/movements are so routine that you never think about them until you can’t do them. But my disability is only temporary and I am getting better. For many others, their disabilities are permanent and there will be no “better.” I get that and I have no reason to complain.

With permission now granted to have my arm out of the protective sling while at home (but with still restricted movement), I feel myself regaining muscle strength. I still experience pain and frustration. But that’s to be expected. Next week I hope to start physical therapy beyond the exercises I am doing at home.

And I plan to continue hanging laundry on the line. Unless rain is in the forecast.

TELL ME: Have you ever dealt with a temporary or permanent disability and how did you adapt? What frustrated you?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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27 Responses to “I’ve never been so happy to hang laundry on the line”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Yay for laundry on the line!!!!! Notice all of the exclamation points! So glad you are healing up and that things will eventually get back to normal for you. There are so many things that really do require 2 hands and you are finding out each and every one one them, right? Keep healing my friend!

  2. Almost Iowa Says:

    Recovery is all about rediscovering the simple joys of every day things.

  3. Support is key – from family and friends, from a great medical team, from yourself in wanting to get better in learning to adapt, using the frustration for good, etc. Patience is also key along with time and it is not easy at times. Good to hear you are recovering and physical therapy will be good for you too 🙂 Happy 4th of July Weekend – Enjoy!

  4. treadlemusic Says:

    “Dealt with”…..yes, but not super gracefully but, rather, with impatience and ‘pushing the envelope’. Thankfully (the Lord is merciful towards His dust children!) I healed well (both times!). Being limited to one arm usage…especially if it’s the left (being right handed)…..does begin a tough lesson in waiting on help for a task, thorough task execution planning and (the hardest) patence with one’s limitations. The phrase “this, too, shall pass” was ever chorusing through my mind……………..

  5. The good thing about clothes from the line, you cannot beat the fresh smell, surely your right arm isn’t good enough yet to reach up high enough to use clothespins, is it? You are putting all the clothes pins on with the right hand I assume. You do not surprise me, I expect to read next week you decided to re-wallpaper your living room. Best wishes, thanks for being you.

    • Oh, you have such a delightful sense of humor, Leland.

      No using my right hand to clip clothesline onto laundry. I’m doing everything left-handed because, you are right, I can’t reach up with my injured right arm. I made the mistake yesterday of pushing on the bathroom soap dispenser with my right hand. That fired deep pain into my right shoulder. There’s definitely a lot of strength rebuilding needed.

      Trust me. There will be no wallpapering of the living room ever, good arm or bad.

    • lisakunk Says:

      I want to hear about all the new things you learn to do with your current “situation” as you learn to adapt more and more. Sounds like you’re an adaptable type person.

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    At first when I saw the photo I thought, “Either she is dreaming of what she’d like to do or she’s been a bad girl and done too much!!” Ha ha I’m happy to see you are taking it one step at a time and using good sense. As you know, my right foot stress fracture has slowed me down this summer. I still do many of the same tasks but only as I can manage. I wear supportive shoes and boots and I utilize the electric buggy more than ever. The work in the pecan orchard is at a standstill right now. Any push mowing is not getting done. And you know what? The world still turns without my help. 😀

    • Maybe I shouldn’t have done the laundry hanging task as I am experiencing more pain today. But it could just be the day or the way I slept or who knows. Or the fact that I hung more laundry on the line today (using my left hand/arm only).

      You and I are both in a similar predicament this summer. You are right in that the world still turns. And my husband is definitely helping our world turn. I expect yours is also. Here’s to continued healing for you.

  7. lisakunk Says:

    Yes, I understand such issues. I was on bed rest with my twenty-year-old triplets from three months on throughout the pregnancy. To go to the doctor, I had to use a wheelchair. I learned quickly what businesses are non handicapped accessible. Especially the occasional department store filled with clothes racks with barely enough room for standing between them, much less a wheelchair. Then, our huge triple stroller with stadium style seats was extremely long and was a chore to fit almost anywhere. At grocery stores I had to push that while pulling the grocery cart. It was doable if not easy. Then there was trying to get three babies from stroller to carseats safely as one or two had to fend for themselves by the car while I put in their sibling(s). A kidnapper would have to figure out how to unlock the brake I pressed but it was always a speedy operation to get everyone placed when they outnumbered me.

    But from an injury standpoint, I’d love for you to read my blogs about my son who broke his knee into six pieces and how he dealt with it. Oh, what a mess that’s been but he’s a tough young man. It’s a pretty interesting story that I hope nobody has to live through but I know many people do. I keep hearing stories…

    Good luck with your arm. Oh, and I’m so jealous of your clothesline. I had one growing up but don’t now. We should. I just did a zillion sheets and comforters and have them hanging all over the house on shower curtain rods, doors, etc. It’s a long story as to why I didn’t just use the dryer. Maybe another time.

    • Thanks for sharing your many stories. You have certainly faced and overcome many challenges. And, oh, your strong strong son. I will check out your posts when time allows. Thanks for reaching out to me and for sharing your thoughts here.

  8. Jackie Says:

    Oh you know I am jumping for joy at your accomplishment, cuz we both know how it feels to hang those clothes on the line (I’m doing bedding today) It’s fun to hear your planning and mastering of this task with your injured arm. Your getting better friend…. prayers for continued (quick) healing.

  9. I bet sleeping on that fresh bedding was worth the frustrations and time it took to get it done.

  10. Valerie Says:

    I’m sure it was really hard to hang the laundry but good for you for being willing to push through it! Hope your shoulder is getting better.

  11. ** this image represents healing, recovery, progress, accomplishment.**

    YEAHHHH, I smell those sheets all the way over here in Duluth, Audrey!

    They smell like summer!!

    So happy you are recovering, dear. xx

  12. It’s all progress, and you are so right to appreciate this. You are in my prayers for healing. God bless! ✞


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