The other day I received a couple of injections designed to numb my right arm for several hours. One injection was given in my elbow and the other under my arm, so you can imagine that I didn't pay much attention when the doctor said that I'd be able to drive home, no problem. Being able to drive was not on my mind right then. Neither was home, or anything at all beyond the next few seconds.

The other day I received a couple of injections designed to numb my right arm for several hours. One injection was given in my elbow and the other under my arm, so you can imagine that I didn't pay much attention when the doctor said that I'd be able to drive home, no problem. Being able to drive was not on my mind right then. Neither was home, or anything at all beyond the next few seconds.

Had I been more lucid, I might have wondered how I could drive anywhere with a deadened right arm, but I wasn't lucid. I was the opposite of lucid; I was slack-jawed with needle anxiety.

Several minutes later, I was back in my car, experiencing the unusual sensation of being slack-armed. On the plus side, I had regained the knack of linear thinking, which allowed me to talk my way through the mechanics of starting the car, putting it in gear and backing out of my parking spot.

"Arm up," I said, reaching across my lap and heaving my right arm onto the steering wheel. I had full use of my fingers, which was fortunate, since otherwise I'd have had to tie my arm to the wheel with my scarf.

Driving turned out to be a mixed bag. On the one hand, pursuing a straight course, with no lane changes or other complications, was a breeze. On the other hand, making a turn, which I had to do eventually if I didn't want to start life anew in Port Clinton, was downright scary.

I had never realized how freely I move my right hand around the steering wheel when I turn left. I might grasp the wheel in as many as three places before a turn is complete, and then, of course I might change the radio station or adjust the rearview mirror or press the little buttons that move the side mirrors.

Really, my right hand is busy all the time when I'm driving, and where my right hand goes, so goes my right arm, under normal circumstances. On this day, however, my right arm had been stripped of all feeling. It might have been a sack of sugar or a roll of braunschweiger. A fine comeuppance for a vegetarian, I thought grimly while I waited for the traffic light to change.

When the left-turn arrow glowed green, I advanced into the intersection, steering to the left with my left hand, then released the wheel just long enough to reach over with my left hand, pick up my right hand and move it up the wheel to a better spot. My right-hand fingers did their best to help by inching themselves up the wheel like a 12-year-old hitching up a rope.

The drive home took four left turns and three right turns. I was lucky enough to be stopped by several red lights, and I used the time to put the car in park, turn up the heat, turn down the radio and/or adjust the side mirrors, all with my left hand. By the time I pulled into my own garage, I considered myself ambidextrous.

You'll notice I haven't mentioned my phone: taking calls, making calls, checking for messages, leaving messages. It might have been 1975 again, the way I was driving without thinking about talking to someone who wasn't there. Technology or no technology, no driver would ever consider using a cell phone when one arm is as senseless as a doorknob.

In fact, that's an idea the highway patrol might consider. I'd be glad to answer any questions they might have.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer: E-mail mbartlett@thisweeknews.com.

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