I’m back from outerspace…

20 Jun

Ok. So not *actually* outerspace, more like innerspace (and no, Dennis Quaid was not there and I was not stuck in the 80’s :-)

June 14th, Flag Day here in the US, is always a “holiday” in our home. It is the anniversary of my diagnosis with Type 1 (“juvenile”) diabetes and each year we celebrate (Jeff takes the day off and there is usually cake or chocolate involved- kind of a way to safely give the big D the ol’ stinkeye….) . Some folks just don’t understand and think it’s sick that we’d celebrate another year of such a shitty, all consuming disease. We call it D-Day in our home and we definitely celebrate- we aren’t trying to make light of such a serious disease (although I do make plenty of corny diabetes jokes) -we are actually celebrating another year of my hard work to keep this disease from maiming or killing me. It’s a big Hip-hip-horray! for another year without complications.

This year was different.

Despite a lot of hard work after 14 years of ups and downs and strange happenings this was the first D-Day where I couldn’t celebrate another year being complication-free. In the past couple of weeks my docs have all agreed that it seems that I have autonomic neuropathy. Basically it means that the nerves that regulate my heart rate, breathing, digestion, balance, etc are crapping out. Actually, it’s not just my autonomic nervous system either. My hands shake and detailed work is a challenge- a challenge I happily take on but yeah, there are tears and a lot of frustration. I’m glad this didn’t happen when I was younger. I’m more levelheaded now. I’m also more bullheaded- but it’s a focused bullheadedness. I don’t just lower my head and strike whatever is in front of me, these days I aim and focus all that energy at appropriate (most of the time) targets.

With creating/crafting/metalwork/jewelrymaking this means that I’m modifying tools and techniques where I can. I’m using a pistol grip rotary tool instead of a traditional flex shaft. I’m learning to push myself less physically – I can no longer work until the muscles in my hands and wrists go numb or cramp up because that means I can’t even pick up a pencil for at least a week. So I’m pushing myself more creatively. I’m reading a lot more. I’m languidly playing with materials and discovering as many of their possibilities as possible – sometimes without the intention of actually making anything with a largish scrap of silver- sometimes I just hammer and play. Melt and play. It’s meditative. It keeps me out of trouble. And I’m writing down everything and instead of spending hours figuring out a new piece I’m actually keeping a sketchbook fairly regularly. That way I’m being smarter with the little time I have to fabricate. I’m learning to take baby steps again and once the initial frustration passes (and the little patches of residual frustration!) I’m finding it to be calming and centering. It’s like I’m letting go of the material (the finished product to introduce to the public…keeping up with listing new stuff on venues such as Etsy) and just enjoying the process, the experience…. The interesting thing is that by reaching this meditative point of creating I’ve also found myself to be more productive than before I got my big news… I’m also finding the materials to be more malleable and creating with metal is less a recollection of what I’ve learned in the past (I’m self-taught and learn by doing and experimentation, if I don’t do it that way everything escapes me) and more of a natural motion- as natural as breathing in and out. As natural as the rhythmic pumping of a heart. As natural as standing up without blacking out. I’m focusing on my creations to work through this but also as a reminded of what I do still have control over.

Ok now a little poll/survey question thingy:

If you have arthritis/carpal tunnel/hand tremors/structural issues- what mods have you made to your crafting tools/equipment or are there any tools and/or accessories you have found particularly helpful?  Thanks in advance!

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One Response to “I’m back from outerspace…”

  1. Gina June 20, 2007 at 1:54 pm #

    You sound like a strong and wise person. I’m sorry you’re having complications…wishing you well.
    Gina

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