Archives For one-handed

Ok, so I realize the title is a bit of a misnomer.

I’ve never played tennis competitively, but I’m not bad. Hopefully this video helps you see how it can be done with one hand.

See. One-handed.

Alternate titles I considered:
How To Jump Over A Tennis Net Without Dying One-Handed
How To Sweat Profusely One-Handed
How To Be Dad-of-the-Year One-Handed


March Madness is in full swing, so I thought, “Why not post a video of how I shoot a basketball?”

I’ve always loved playing basketball. You can see the joy on my face in this video from 1987. (I think this was the only time I ever played basketball with my prosthetic arm.) There’s just something about that “swish” as the ball goes through the net. Even better if the net is made out of chain. I’ve never played organized basketball, either for school or a rec league, but I’ve always played with my friends. Mostly we play 21 and I hold my own. Usually.

I remember once when I lived in Minnesota, I went to a park to play with my roommate. He was a black dude from Milwaukee who gave himself tattoos while we watched TV at home. I was the only white kid at the park. I called next game over and over, but they never let me in, so finally I just marched my little self out onto center court and stood there defiantly. “I’VE. GOT. NEXT,” I said sternly. A few of them laughed, but they could sense I was serious and they let me pick my team. I was so amped-up, I was flying around the court, making shots left and right. At the end of the game, they all gave “the white boy” his props…and I promptly left while I was on-top. Genius move, I think.

It was only on my way home that I thought, “Not only am I white, but I have one arm.” Not a single one of them mentioned it and Jehmel, my roommate, never said it was a factor, but part of me wonders.

Regardless, that day I proved I could hang with the big boys.

Literally. Every one of them was about a foot taller and at least 100 pounds heavier than I was.

(My only regret in the video below is that I didn’t block one of Sam’s shots and scream in his face. That would have been epic.)

Checkout Kevin Laue as an example of a guy with one hand who’s really good at basketball!

He's got almost a foot and a half on me.  Lucky.

He’s got almost a foot and a half on me. Lucky.

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I’ve always loved playing sports.

Especially football.

Not me, but still one-handed.

I found out recently that playing football is one of the only times my friends think about me having one arm.  One said,  “I remember playing football one time and not even thinking about you having one hand until you made this amazing catch going deep and stopping in my tracks like, ‘Wait, how the heck did he just do that?'”  My friend Steve said, “The only time I am really conscious of the fact that you only have one arm is when we are playing football and I am the quarter back.  I know that if I throw the ball towards your left shoulder, it’s going to be extremely difficult for you to catch the ball!  So, I am forced to think a little bit more when I am throwing to you, and I really try to throw to your right side.”

I’ll be making many more videos of me playing sports, I’m sure, but for now here’s one of me playing catch with my son.  I figure it’s better just to see it done than to have me try to explain it.

Pounding nails is quite the trick for someone with one hand.

I would know.

I’ll tell you the most frustrating ones to pound, though.  You know those cheap book cases you get from Walmart or Target?  The ones with that fake-woodgrain piece of thin cardboard you have to unfold and nail to the back of the case.  Yeah, that situation is insanely frustrating.  And I know those are technically brads or whatever, but still…frustrating.

I’m not much of a handy-man (ha) per se, but I’ve used a hammer and nails enough in my life to know…it ain’t easy. I also know that I haven’t tried many other methods of doing it.  I’m sure there are countless tools or helps or methods out there, I just haven’t used them.  Again, necessity is the mother of invention, and let’s be honest…it’s rarely necessary for me to nail stuff together.

So, this is how I do it.  One way, at least.  If you have a cool way of doing it, I’d love if you made a reply video!  And if you have questions or ideas, post them in the comments section.  I promise to respond.  And if I don’t, you can totally nail me on it.  GET IT?  See what I did there?!


Driving One-Handed

February 25, 2012 — 23 Comments

One time my brother Joey took me to show-and-tell.

His classmates asked me all kinds of questions about what I was able to do.

“Can you tie your shoes?”  “Can you ride a bike?”  And someone asked, “Can you drive a car?”

I remember thinking that was a dumb question.  I don’t think I said it (I hope I didn’t!), but I thought, “How do you think I got here?”

I learned to drive just like everybody else I knew.  I took driver’s ed, where I was called Roger most of the time because it turned-out my instructor was my uncle’s (and dad’s) gym teacher when they were my age.  “No, Mr. Nording, it’s Ryan.  Roger is my uncle,” I’d remind him.  It also turned-out that my dad was living in Mr. Nording’s old house.  Anyway…I digress.

My driving test was a piece of cake, other than the one point I got off for parallel parking too far away from the curb.  It was the drive home I screwed-up.  My mom was adamant she drive home, but somehow I convinced her to let me instead.  We pulled into our driveway and saw smoke.  I guess I was nervous because I was riding the brakes the whole time.  Sorry, mom.

I’m happy to report that after nearly 20 years of driving experience, I’ve only caused one accident.  And that was just a bump.  Literally.  I took a corner in the snow and just kept slowly sliding toward this person stopped at a red light.  I could see them staring at me as I muttered, “Aw, crap.”  There wasn’t any damage, but they called the police anyway.  After that my memory gets hazy.

As I say in the video, I’ve never had to modify my vehicles in any way.  Sometimes it’s a pain to pull the door shut because I have to reach across myself to do it, but it’s not a big deal.  Also, going through the drive-thru is a challenge.  If you want to try it yourself, the next time you go through one, only use your right hand.  I dare you not to drop the change they hand you.

Ok…I’m going to go sit in my Buick Time Machine now and listen to some Spin Doctors.

Enjoy the video!

How To Zip A Coat One-Handed

February 12, 2012 — 13 Comments

A number of people have asked me how I zip my coat.

Here it is:

Remember, this is just how I do it.  However you do it is great!

I originally posted this piece on in June 2011. 

The other day some kids stared at me.  My son’s class was meeting at the park to perform their year-end songs and I decided to surprise Sam by coming.  Earlier I told him I had to work, so when his friends saw me walking toward the park they started shouting, “Sam!  Your dad’s here!  I thought you said he was for sure not coming?!”  Sam ran to me, smiling sheepishly, and wrapped his arms around my neck.  Then his friends came over.  There they stood.  All lined-up, their little 7-year old fingers pointed at me like an adorable firing squad.  “What happened to his arm?” some of them quietly asked.  “Hey, boys,” I said.  I mean, I’m used to this.

I was born missing my left arm just below the elbow.  People have been staring at me my whole life.  Heck, I stare at me when I walk by a store front or when I see myself in a video.  I’m different; it’s a fact of life.  So, those situations at the park are not altogether uncommon.  Kids are curious.  They also have no sense of decorum.  And that’s totally cool, but honestly, it’s still hard sometimes.  It’s hard to be stared at, even when it’s been happening to you for 33 years.

n532525602 3058789 279 300x286 How To Survive Being Stared At

So, how do I deal with it?  It helps me to remember a few things.

Kids don’t know any better. I’m not saying kids aren’t smart or anything, I’m just saying they’ve (probably) never seen somebody like me and their brains are still in that stage where they’re like, “HOLY CRAP. THAT DUDE IS MISSING HIS ARM. I MUST KNOW WHY. I WILL ASK HIM IMMEDIATELY.”  I think my favorite reaction is when I tell them that I was born without it and they say, “No you weren’t.  Where is it really?”  They’re convinced I’m somehow hiding it.  It’s awesome.  So, yes, it can still be somewhat awkward when kids stare, but I can’t fault them.  They’re curious; and for good reason.

Parents usually don’t know any better, either. Honestly, parents are harder to deal with.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at them.  I kind of pity them, actually.  Most of the time they have no idea how to react when their child gets vocal about my arm.  And I can’t blame ‘em.  I mean, that’s not one of those things you practice with your child.  ”Ok, so if we happen to see someone with one arm today, let’s make sure we politely say hello and walk by them without staring.  If you must ask them what happened, please do so with dignity and tact.”  Right.  Usually the kid blurts out, “HE’S GOT A BROKE ARM!” and the mom’s face contorts in terror while she tries not to stare at me and then yells at her kid to be quiet.  Awkward.  So, for all you parents, take the opportunity to teach your kid that it’s ok to be curious and then help them ask the questions they’re wondering about.  Everybody wins when that happens.

We are all infatuated with differences. Did you ever have that little, thick Guinness Book of World Records when you were a kid?  The one with those humongous twins on tiny motorcycles?  And that super tall guy?  And the dude with the fingernails that curled and curled because they were so long?  Only now do I recognize the irony in my obsession with the abnormal.  The fact is, differences catch our attention.  And that’s not bad, it just…is.  I notice people stealing glances at my arm during conversations and it doesn’t bother me a bit.  I know they can’t help it.  They’re not trying to be rude.  It’s like looking at a white sheet of paper and trying not to stare at the bright yellow blotch in the corner.  Impossible.  I understand that.

And while these ideas help me to some extent, the reality is that sometimes it still hurts to be stared at.  Maybe you feel the same way.  Maybe you’re tall.  Or short.  Or overweight.  Or you have red hair.  Or no hair.  Or you limp.  Or you use a wheelchair.  Or you’re blind.  Or you’re a different color than all your friends.  It could be anything.  I want to tell you that it’s ok to not enjoy being stared at.  I also want to tell you to accept that it is a fact of life.  Most people don’t mean to be rude.  Most people don’t even want to stare, they just can’t help it.

I challenge you to believe that you were made just right. I had an atheist college professor named Dr. Goodpaster (delicious, right?) who once asked me, “Since you believe in God, shouldn’t you be mad at him for making you that way?”  Despite being horribly offensive, his question does make sense.  Well, if you believe the only people worth anything are perfectly shaped.  I told him that, no, I don’t believe I should be mad at God.  He made me this way for a reason.  And I believe He made Dr. Goodpaster the way He did for a reason.

And I believe He made you the way He did for a reason.

I believe each of us are “wonderfully made.”

And when we believe that, it’s makes surviving the stares a little bit easier.

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My son, Samuel, makes his on-camera debut in this video!

I wish the snow was thicker and more packable.  And that it wasn’t -3 degrees outside.  Oh, well.


I threw my first wedding ring (the one I had worn for nearly nine years) into the Caribbean Sea.


My wife had inscribed, “You amaze me” in that one.

We thought long and hard about what to have inscribed in my second ring.

“You amaze me…still.”

I like it.

Ring, The Second

I never thought about the whole wedding ring situation when I was young.  I mean, I was a boy, so there’s that.  It just never occurred to me that I’d have to wear mine on the “wrong hand.”  It’s not like I had a choice, anyway.  My future wife would just have to deal with it.

And deal with it she has.

I don’t remember ever talking with her about the fact that I’d be wearing my wedding ring on my right hand.  It was never an issue.  I do remember, however, deciding that we would save money by getting me a simple, silver ring.  We got it online for $15.  And it lasted me nearly ten years.

I love what wedding rings represent; unending love between spouses.  So romantical.  We all look forward to sliding that ring onto the finger of the one we love.  For those of us in the limb-different community, though, we need to get creative.  Like Nick Vujicic.  You’ve probably seen him.  He doesn’t have arms or legs.  He just got engaged and I’m curious about what he’s going to do.  And my new friend George is missing both arms.  He’s an incredible musician, so he’ll have no trouble finding a lady friend.  I’m excited to see what he does one day when he’s standing at the altar ready to get married.

I’d love to hear your stories!  If you’re limb-different, how did you get creative with your wedding ring?  And if you’re a parent or relative of an LD child, don’t worry.  Just like everything else, they’ll figure it out.

If worse comes to worse, you could always move to a country where the right hand is the right hand for the wedding ring.

On second thought…don’t do that.

Here’s how I put on and take off my wedding ring:

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