Susan's cats scheme to thwart therapy and implicate dog

Susan Manzke
Susan holds what's left of her exercise sponge in her hand.

I continue to go to therapy for my hand. When I started out I could hardly move any of my fingers. They were all stiff from being in the cast for weeks after my fall. Now I can wiggle my fingers and almost make a fist. Squeezing things is another exercise I'm working on.  

Removing a bottle cap can still be a problem. I might have to struggle if the bottle had never been opened. There were times I resorted to using pliers to get a good grip on a bottle cap. 

At my last occupational therapy appointment, the therapist brought out bag clips for me to pinch together. There was a rainbow of colored clips in the container. She told me to take out the black ones and the blue ones. They were the most difficult ones to work with. 

I was to pinch together the clip and connect it to a metal rod and then remove it again. The blue clips were first. Using my thumb and my index finger, the one that I broke. I pinched together the first blue clip, and then another. After setting them in place I was to remove them. I had to concentrate to make sure I was getting a good grip on those plastic clips, but I did it. 

The black ones were more of a challenge. There was stronger tension in those clips. After putting a few in place and removing them again, my hand wore out. I couldn't get that black alligator clip open again, so I'm practicing more at home. 

On another appointment, I was given a green sponge to squeeze. First, I would squeeze it with my whole hand. After doing that 20 times I was to switch and just use my thumb and index finger. It wasn't hard work but after a few repetitions, my fingers would tire out—I'm supposed to exercise but not to overdo it. Later that afternoon I repeated my exercises. 

After squeezing my green exercise sponge, I set it down on the table and went to get a glass of water. My cats and dog were telling me that it was time for their supper. They all looked like they were starving, so I started to dish out their evening meals. Too bad I wasn't paying close attention to what my pets were doing. 

When I turned around again, I saw that my dog Stella had something on the floor that she was chewing. When I went closer, I found that she had my exercise sponge in a hundred pieces. I hurried to take the pieces away from her so she wouldn't swallow any. Stella has been known to chew her own toys into tiny bits and then swallow them. 

Some bits were on the other side of the table, and I was racing her to get to them. Meanwhile, the cat was sitting on the windowsill watching the commotion he had caused. Of course, the cat tried to look innocent, but I knew that he had flicked the exercise sponge off the table just to get the dog in trouble. 

Other times I found Stella chewing pencils and pens. Nine times out of ten, one of my cats had flicked the writing implement down to the dog. The cat then walked away like he had nothing to do with it—my cats practice looking innocent. 

I had a few days before returning for another OT appointment and figured out how to use my ‘broken’ exercise sponge. I put it in a baggie and took the air out. and zipped it closed. With it all packed to one side of the plastic bag, I could continue my exercises by squeezing these pieces of sponge while they were together in the bag. 

I told my therapist that I had broken my sponge when I went in for my appointment. She laughed when I told her my dog almost ate my homework and then handed me a replacement. 

My hand is slowly getting better, no matter how many times my pets interfere with my progress. 

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;