Ma’am, Is That Your Arm?
Why must waking up often include startling experiences?
Ah, a day for out-of-body, in-body experiences. This morning, I experienced the phenomena of arm limpness – something I have only had happen one other time in my life. The last time it happened, I panicked. Who wouldn’t? I’m moving my arm and it’s not convinced that I really want it to go anywhere. I’m making a fist and waving and panicking and it just flops there like blubbery seal on the beach.
Round two of limp arm syndrome – I was taking a nap on my couch and my arm (somehow reaching the state of jello) flopped off my chest where it had been resting and my hand hit the floor. My eyes snapped open.
By goodness, someone has stolen my limb. *glance off the couch* No, never mind, it’s over there. Crisis averted.
I knew immediately what had happened simply because it doesn’t take a person long to realize their arm is possessed (or dispossessed, as the case may be) and no longer 100% connected to the rest of the body. What was spooky was that I could simultaneously feel the weight of my arm off the couch, hanging into space like a useless twig and straining my shoulder, as well as still felling my arm weighing down on my chest. As if it had never fallen asleep.
I tapped the fingers of the ghost arm – my fingers on the floor wiggled. I tried to move the “arm” from my chest to where it physically rested near the carpet in an attempt to reconnect the mental and physical feelings. Rather than connect them, my limp arm just moved up toward my head, as if I was stretching. After a couple minutes of making myself into an awkward puppet of a sleepy college student, I reached over with my left arm and pulled the limp right back onto the couch and “matched” it with where the feeling of the chest arm was laying. Feeling flooded back, first in tingling and then in a wave of icy trickling. And now I’m writing with it, as if it had never been gone in the first place.
So strange to think that while in my head everything felt normal, anyone with eyes could have said “Um, Ma’am, is that your arm?”
And I’m assuming I’d tell them well, yes, but I just really can’t control it.
I understand a little more about “phantom feelings” of amputees. The brain is trying to hard to compensate for something missing that it tries to make everything normal, still connected, despite the obvious fact that things are not all as they should be. But when in the right place, parts become functioning again, and the brain is able to stop trying so hard to make those missing connections and continue to function as it had been.
What amazing creations we are.
And how very nice it is to be awake.