More than a pothole

They say that spring is “just around the corner,” but many in my small corner of the Midwest are dubious.  Light snow and bone-chilling winds accompany us as we swerve around some pretty massive potholes. Driving into one is tough on the car’s suspension, and all I can do is grit my teeth and hope that these obstacles will be fixed soon.

 

My latest large print in process…

I have been working on this large print (25 x 40in) during our difficult winter, and have been thrown an obstacle of my own in the form of pain. Sharp pain in my thumbs, like rubber bands being snapped, was my first sign that there was problem. My hands also get cold very quickly and this makes both my fingertips and my palms ache.

I’ve begun the process of trying to discover what I can do to help my body heal. Some of the medical advice I’ve received might help, but I have found that when I tell a physician that I am a printmaker, they have absolutely no idea what that means, especially what types of activities I do that will place stress on my hands and arms. And there doesn’t seem to be time in consultations to discuss this satisfactorily.

The information on-line is dizzying regarding what might be wrong. There may be things I can do to mitigate the stress. I sent my carving tools off to the Bronx to be professionally sharpened. I’m wondering if I can warm my linoleum in the oven.

But there is also the possibility that I can’t do some of my work anymore. Heavy blocks that must be moved to and from the press bed place stress on my wrists and thumbs. The vibrating of my Dremel-like tool may be aggravating the median nerves in my wrists.

For now my large block sits behind my carving desk, waiting to be completed. A dear friend thought that the print looked finished just as it is. Maybe she is right. In a perfect world, I would like to make this type of decision based on my artistic sense, not on my physical condition.

So artists — how have you faced the realities of the human body — aging, stressed and all — and your need to make art?

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One Reply to “More than a pothole”

  1. Elizabeth – I started having a lot of pain and aches several years ago, too. I've finally discovered, through the process of elimination, that it has to do with what I'm eating. So, long story short, I've given up sugar, wheat (gluten), dairy, nuts, eggs and only have grains occassionally. The inflammation is definitely going away. If I was to have some gluten now, all the joints in my wrists and elbows would hurt for several days. Different foods affect me differently. I would suggest you try an elimination diet and see if that makes any difference. Good luck.

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