Previous Posts...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

So it’s been a while ...

I know ... I had started to write an entry several months ago on the 4 year anniversary of my fall and quite frankly it seemed too depressing so I never push “post”. You see pain does that to a person. It keeps you in your home locked away inside yourself. It keeps you on the couch and days and weeks slip away. It also makes being creative nearly impossible.

But ... while searching for the answers and trying to get to the root of my arm, neck, hand and nerve issues I found my own answers.  Apparently this mess needed some weeding out and eventually the long process of elimination would lead to results. I had grown tired of the waiting games, endless tests and appointments, the multiple suggestions of even more surgery, and let’s not forget when I almost slapped the guy who said “have you considered this is all in your head?” (Insert deep breath, dramatic pause and quick inner Zen attainment here!)  After I calmly assured him that no, the burning, tingling, and muscle pain that started at my neck ran through my shoulder and down my arm (let alone one ICE COLD HAND!) making sleepless nights an unwelcomed and nearly constant habit was indeed real, I left the office and took matters into my own hands. Google and I became good friends.

And even though I had mentioned Thoracic Outlet to the “powers that be” early on in this mess, my suggestions were dismissed – but I digress and resist the urge to call any of them all up and yell “I TOLD YOU SO!” I've realized that doctors don’t have all the answers, specialists often don't look beyond their specialties and in the end that I alone am my best health advocate. I read blogs and forums and ran across many that were in the same wobbly boat. When you know what feels right and go with that ... and then therapy started. And let me tell you Graston therapy is not fun.  Once a week now for the last 8 months I get twisted into a pretzel and implements of torture scrape away at my neck, arm and hand getting at the fascia that has had things in an ugly bind for far too long. I get pulled and flexed into positions and then must resist those moves in efforts to get that part of me back to what it used to be and before I can leave she most likely tapes me somewhere in hopes of relieving pressure and restoring blood flow.

After several months I couldn’t see much of a difference and though I momentarily may have lapsed back into states of depression and unbelievable frustration, I kept on. And then it happened.  I dropped things less.  My hand wasn’t cold as I typed.  I slept throughout the night and then ladies and gents ... for the first time IN FOUR YEARS I could sleep on my right side or on my back!  Not ONCE in four years could I do that post tumble.  And with more torture and some highly unpleasant cupping massages, the tingling in my hand started to disappear. The pinching in my elbow was all but gone.  The severe muscle pain in the forearm only lingered a bit after strenuous activity. The mess was working its way up and out of my arm.
(Said implements of torture ... and the one with the handlebars scraping down your side across your ribs I can assure you is NOT a pleasant experience!)

And that is where I am today.  The “torture” continues as we try to get the final awful shoulder and neck issues resolved but folks I sleep, I can paint for at least part of each day. Now sure, sometimes I become QUITE aware of my limitations while working and I have to be resolved to quit and walk away before I make things worse for myself. But I am working.  I am creating.  I am in the space that I love to be more than most anywhere and you cannot imagine how good that feels ...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My heart is full ...

A few weeks ago while in the midst of a major PMS cleaning frenzy I found myself in the studio looking about and thinking I had slowly amassed a nice collection of pieces throughout the year.  Perhaps it was the hormones or a crazy caffeinated notion, but I decided to open my studio and have an “All Season Show!” 

I mean – why not!?!  There were a few pieces from Valentine’s Day, quite a few from spring when I was REALLY testing the arm and a smattering of fall and some leftovers from last Christmas too. Plus the idea of clearing out the studio was quite appealing and as I scooted about the studio cleaning the floor on my hands and knees! ;) 

It felt like “old times” as dear husband and I stained a smattering of pieces that Wednesday night in preparation for my little event.  The next morning that familiar smell of drying stain greeted me as I wandered down the steps and for once in a long time, the studio truly felt like home. I was surprised how many pieces filled the space.  It was nice to see everything gathered together and set up. I usually don’t have “just” my things in the studio, but this last minute decision was turning out to be a fun one.  Yes, before my little tumble and following physical mess, I could have amassed this many pieces in a matter of just a few weeks, but since the arm needed two glasses of Pinot Grigio and a few extra strength Tylenol to even finish what I had, I was quite happy.

I asked a friend to help out during and even 30 minutes before I slid open the patio doors, she said people were starting to gather. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised, but wandering and puttering about the house I have forgotten about the demand for my creations and it had been nearly a year that smiling faces filled the studio. Perhaps I had been concentrating on the things that I could not do, or the pain that comes too often, or the frustration of searching for answers to this neck/arm/hand mess consumed too much of me.

So many hugs and well wishes filled my heart.  The studio has SUCH a good positive energy in it right now I just cannot fully explain it. 

Update : I have started a new “hands-on” therapy in hopes of getting the mess that is apparently thoracic outlet syndrome to loosen up and let go of the strangle hold on my nerves and blood flow. I can’t wait for the day when the pain leaves me, my hand and arm behave again and can happily get back to doing what I love full time ... 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mornings ...

It’s one of those rare summer mornings.  The humidity has nearly left and there is a light cool breeze blowing as I head out to water the vegetables and various flower and herb containers.  It’s how I start each morning and on occasions like this I stop to rest in the hammock.  On today’s wondrous weather occasion I take even more time there.  It’s my meditation and my stopping to be still and present.  Watching the yellow and purple finches zip back and forth to the feeders and flowing willow tree clears my mind. The moment that the purple finch hovered and rested on the hammock just past my toes, may have just made my day.

I love gardening. I love being outside.  It’s the time where my mind isn’t focused on what I can’t do and other than a pinch, light ache or tingle when I do these light morning chores, my mind and body are at peace. (We won’t discuss the pains of planting, transplanting, edging and mulching earlier this month – ouch!)

I close my eyes. There are bees buzzing about the garden finding the pollinators I’ve just introduced to the garden and their busy work nearly puts me to sleep. A distant cardinal reminds me that I forgot to fill his feeder and the sharp chirp of the cedar wax wing sitting in the service berry tree make me open my eyes to see if any berries remain.  All this work going on around me and I’m quite comfortable nestled into my resting space sipping my coffee from my favorite mug.

I feel a bit lazy as this time of year I am usually starting to plan out my fall ideas.  Believe me, I’ve done some sketching, but recent time in the studio proved painful so I fear starting in on work.  I’ve stopped physical therapy for a while now. My “Dr of Torture” thought it best to take a break when the work we were doing on my neck gave me too many restless nights, and the arm hated me for it.  Upon my insistence we made a plan to run some diagnostic tests and I made an appointment with a UNMC specialist.  He is a spine surgeon who only works on neck issues and because he was a physical therapist first, surgery is a last option.  It took 10 weeks to get into his office, so apparently this well sought man is worth the wait.  So now I wait some more, the results from my MRI are due soon … I hope for answers.  I hope for the possibility to put the pain behind me and I worry as now there is tingling and weakness on my left side.  Yes, my “good hand” is now angry … and with that thought, I think I may just go back and lie in the hammock for just a bit more. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What do I say? The journey continues …

I've been twisted, poked, prodded, needled, x-rayed, nerve conducted, MRI’d, electro-magnetic wrapped, cold lasered, acupunctured, operated on and today at this moment I can’t hold a paint brush.  I can’t move the mouse to this computer without my forearm burning.  I can’t help that at the base of my skull it feels like someone has taken a whack at me with a 2X4. When I wake up my hand is stiff and sore. I haven't been able to sleep on my right side in 3 years. I can’t help that muscles in my neck, shoulder and arm seem to tie themselves into giant solid knots without me doing ANYTHING to cause them to do so. 

I’m frustrated.  I didn’t sleep but more than a few hours last night. And in a desperate attempt to help the muscles that inexplicably stiffen up down the right side of my neck and into my shoulder, I headed to my massage therapist early this morning who said she has NEVER seen my neck this bad.

Last week I was told by my chiropractor it’s all from “over use”.  Funny - because I’m not working much these days.  I can’t.  And the apparent “face-plant” that a new fresh out of school chiropractor from the same office put me in, gave me a headache for days and has my right eye twitching – constantly so and especially when I turned my head to the right for the first 48 hours afterward.  And now for the first time since I started to see results from physical therapy, my forearm is wreaking havoc on my hand and with movement feels like it’s on fire. 

It’s time to reset.  I think it’s time for new eyes to take a look at this mess and hopefully – desperately – ACTUALLY get some answers and truly, not just promise without delivery - SOLUTIONS. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Where things "sit" ...

I've sat a lot over the last few years.  Too much idle time for an artist is never a good thing.  Unless the day is filled with books, activities or even a little TV (too much at times) my mind wanders to the “what I can’t do’s”,  or the “what I’d rather be doing’s” and the “only if I could do it” thoughts. 
So at the beginning of this year, I vowed to start each day by heading to the studio and doing a little something.  Puttering – if you will even if the hand was having a bad day and wouldn’t let me paint like I’d like to I was determined to do something.  Anything really.  I've varnished nearly anything I could (dear husband fears if he sits too long, he too will be shellacked!) Rusty knickknacks and antique wooden goodness around the studio have a fresh shiny coat thanks to my little mission. Last week I even threw a coat of stain on my work table! (Which by the way I had a customer say I should cut apart and sell the spattered top!) I've made some simple little arrangements and the button wire flowers I made years ago, have once again wrapped their way around old antique glassware. I bought jewelry parts and whipped together some necklaces (something I haven’t done in YEARS!) I redecorated our home office and helped dear husband decorate his new office space too!  I even attacked a few canvases with great abstract gusto!

(an abstract for Randy's swanky new office at Medical Solutions!)
There were also books to be read (while sitting at my desk of course!) and many days began and ended with sketching new ideas. I have returned to the “Dr of Torture” for more therapy and working on getting my favorite nerves in my neck and arm to calm themselves. So on the good days I painted and slowly but surely a little pile amassed and works even popped up for sale on line. It all helped to fill my mind and I was SO thankful to find myself sitting (and thinking) less unless seated and twisting myself into a pretzel as directed by the aforementioned torture-ist.

So as much as I have loved winter, (even heading to Chicago on the COLDEST and SNOWIEST days they’ve had in YEARS! Yep – we loved every minute of it too!  We’re crazy like that!) wearing layers, tall boots, warm hats and the smell of imminent snow fall, both I and the studio are ready for a touch of spring. The fact that the hammock is hanging now steps beyond my studio door, and bits of green and life are popping up in the garden, make me happy.  Walks are filled less with worry of wind gusts and chills and are now more about the sights and sounds of what winged migrations has found its way to our little lake. It’s a good time of year.  I like the change spring brings. And so now, to clear the mind, and so I am no longer sitting – it is time to get a little walk in, and feel the warm sun on my face.  

(ahh ... hello clean desk freshly oiled and surrounded my family snaps!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I've lost myself somewhere …

Wait … no … there I am!
Over the last few years I feel like I have lost bits of myself going through “this mess”. Pieces left with pain and frustration.  Some left with boredom, others with the anger over all of it. But today, this morning in this minute I feel fairly whole again. Perhaps it was that third cup of coffee or happily working on home decorating projects, but more likely it was that warm fresh warm air hitting my face on my January morning walk and best of all because there isn’t much pain currently.
The sun is shining SO brightly today, and in fact, they are forecasting record warmth. This type of weather can in no way leave a person sitting on the couch feeling sorry for themselves and has thankfully pushed me out the door.  It’s so nice in fact it feels like we have skipped winter all together.  The snow we did receive early on is only a distant memory. Unexpectedly robins have come back into the yard (although I fear the darlings may soon regret that early migratory decision!) and the geese and random ducks that live on the lake have grown active and chatty. Getting out with nature a buzz, it’s hard not to feel so good.
Even though the studio still feels a bit foreign, I’ve resolved to head down daily, even if just to read or sketch.  I had started on a few Valentine’s creations, but frustration has left them unfinished.  A few new “whimsy” spring pieces are nearing completion and happily they will be offered up on PFATT February 10th! I've even thrown myself into a few little decorating projects.  It keeps my mind busy on the days where the nerves in my arm and neck discourage me. Dear husband’s offices (home and work) needed attention and with his move to new company digs, the office looked empty.  The endless baking and candy making at Christmas wouldn’t let me finish his new large abstract painting by Christmas as anticipated, but it has been thankfully coming along as of late and the Ikea goodness and ordered artwork have transformed his space. The home office is at long last getting a new coat of paint and updated décor and the desk that he and my father made is getting a new antique barn wood top!
Its days like this where I am reminded and happy to share life with you.  I apologize for falling of the map for so long.  There is light at the end of this tunnel and though a long journey, I hope to get there soon. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Decisions - Decisions

I started this fall and Christmas season with high hopes.  With my physical therapy sessions, massages, chiropractic visits, specialists and all other helpful whatnots, I was able to create a decent sized smattering of creations for a small fall open studio.  It was not even half of what I would normally create for a “normal” open house.  More importantly, this smattering took over three months to create where before my injury it would have taken 4 weeks at the most. But, it was far more than I had been able to do in nearly 2 years and I was grateful just to be back in the studio painting.

With the little open studio however, I pushed myself too hard toward the end and my arm paid for it.  The tightness did no favors to my angry nerves that run down my right arm and the muscle weakness was evident. Sleep was fleeting. Frustration filled too many days. The worst day came when submersing my arm in an ice bath for 5 minute intervals left me in an agonizing tearful heap. I did myself a kindness and took a couple of weeks off to concentrate on strength building, rest and making the arm “happy” again. 

When I returned to work, it came slowly.  The tightness, tingling and pinching that lays on the top of my hand makes it hard to hold a brush for any long period of time.  We tweaked my therapy, exercises changed, and massages were needed more than every 4 weeks. I knew this was going to be a slow road.  I was told it was.  Being in various braces on and off for two years appaarently did no favors to my bones, muscles and nerves. I can’t always tell what will be a good day or not in the studio until I set to task. “Your nerves are going to be like razor wire” Dr Noll told me. “And what we do here and what you do at home will only antagonize it.”  And he was right.  

Don’t get me wrong – things are MUCH better than they used to be.  Things don’t fall from my hand.  I sleep most nights and the debilitating headaches have left me.  But as an artist there lies a frustration that bubbles up from not being able to create what you want.  Not being able to move your hand to create the smooth lines that make up the majority of your work get to a person. So I walk away to take a break, refocus and hope that the next day will be better. I have to take my time, not push myself and remember how far I’ve come and have faith how much better I will be in the coming year!

So for now, I have decided to list the handful of new paintings to be available on line, and an open studio and home tour will have to wait ...