Did you know that I have carpal tunnel in both of my hands? I also suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Let’s not forget heart disease — 8 strokes and a heart attack… And, I’m only 55 years old.
When I was 52, I walked away from a 6-figure salary. I made the choice to save my life no matter the cost. Although I loved the job, the stress was immense and it was affecting my health. So, I retired.
I wake every morning with stiff joints (thanks RA!) and I live in constant pain (thanks fibro!). Also, it’s hard for me to work using my hands for more than a short time before they start cramping due to the CT. But — I am an Artist.
Art — creativity in most any form — is medicine for me. I could have retired and sat at home feeling sorry for myself. I could be mad that before the age of 50, I had had a heart attack and several strokes even though I don’t “party” or eat (too) badly. I could allow the constant pain, numbness and tingling in my arms and hands, and the cramping from CT to keep me from the things I love.
But those are the very things that heal me — mind, body, and soul.
When I paint, I often can’t feel the brush on the canvas. When I get really close and look, I realize that basically I’m mashing the brush on the substrate. It’s bent in half! Yet, I keep painting. I have a strong affinity (read: I love) toward creating dot mandalas. They take a steady hand and lots of precision — two things that I don’t have due to those things that are affecting my body. Yet, I keep making dot mandalas, wonky dots and all.
I am crazy about knitting and crocheting too, although I haven’t knitted in years. In fact, I am currently working on crocheting a blanket for my bed for my new home, which I move in to in less than 2 months. Can I tell you how the repetitive motion of crocheting reeks havoc on my carpal tunnel? Yet, I keep crocheting…
(Crochet hooks and image by WoodBeFancy. Highly recommended if you need ergo hooks!)
I tell you all of this to say: “Never doubt your abilities!” I still do most all of the things I enjoy in life. Doc won’t let me sky dive or ride roller coasters, but I still find things to do that I find thrilling. I just had to take into consideration my abilities.
Notice I said “abilities” — not “disabilities”…
So it takes me a little longer to paint and my strokes aren’t as graceful. But I still paint. And my dots are often wonky or too close together/too far apart. But I still create dot mandalas. And yeah, it takes most people a couple of months to crochet a queen size blanket when it takes me a year. But, I still crochet blankets (and hats, and scarves, and whatever strikes my fancy at the time) with the help of specially designed tools.
I do what I need to do to continue to enjoy my passions:
- Ergonomic crochet hooks
- Frequent breaks when I’m painting or otherwise creating
- Acceptance of my wonky dots…
What I won’t do is ever doubt my abilities. I may not be as good, as fast, or as graceful as the next person but that won’t stop me from doing whatever it is that I desire. Can I ever jump out of an airplane? Well, no. But how many people without my medical concerns wouldn’t dare try to fly? All I’m saying is do what you love, even if you have to do it unconventionally.
Who says you gotta follow the rules anyway?