Monday, March 26, 2012

Taking a break from jewelry

Hi there friends-
most of you know that I am currently dealing with nerve pain issues in my left arm/hand/neck. I have been fighting for 1 1/2 years with intense constant pain in my neck, left arm and hand and have been pursuing conventional treatments in western medicine as well as alternative methods for pain treatment.

After over a year of therapies and failures I had surgery on my neck in December, to fuse three vertebrae and remove ruptured discs. I have a titanium plate now that keeps that part of my neck stable. The Neurosurgeons told me that the surgery would resolve the pain issues and I would be back on my game within 5-6 weeks, tops.

Well, unfortunately the pain is still there, and in fact has become much more intense. There is no posture I can take to find relief, and the pain is constant, beginning in the morning 2 hours after I wake, continuing until I finally fall to sleep late into the night, if not at dawn.

I am literally having to drug and heat and ice myself to sleep.
(you can see the scar on my neck in this pic)

One thing I had never thought of before- It is almost impossible to fall asleep if you are in acute pain: Your brain feels the pain and signals a flight response from the body- You tense up, ready to flee- which of course you cannot do, as the pain is coming from the inside. I just had never encountered this before- never have had such a constant ache. At this point I figure I've not had a pain free moment for almost 4 months. It's nuts!
LOOK- I'm not writing  this to be dramatic or scare anyone- I'm just trying to capture what I'm living through, so that people can try to understand chronic pain. Oh, and yes, I know I'm a "Newbie" in the chronic pain community- I believe this gives me a way to write in the contrast living with/out pain; it's New to me, so sometimes fresh experiences are particularly focused.

One thing that I'm really struggling with is that I have a really strong desire to work- and I find that I cannot work in my studio for more than about 1/2 hour without having a flare up of intensity to the pain.
So Sadly, I am coming to the realization that I have to take a break. At least until I find some solution to this pain. I am slowing down my studio practice to a snails pace, and will only do minimal metalwork, if any for the next ?? period of time, until I can find a way to work pain free once again.

This decision is brutally difficult for me- I have cloaked myself in metalsmithing for 25+ years, creating in the studio on a daily basis. However, I can't continue at the same pace, and believe that I can find satisfaction in shifting directions in my creative life.

So- for now at least- "Working small" in traditional jewelry is slowly being put on hold, and I will be looking into other paths to satisfy my need to create. I have an open book ahead of me, and a bunch of crazy ideas and design explorations that are taking shape. I will be on walkabout in my wilderness.

And what is in stock in my etsy shop is pretty much going to be all of the traditional jewelry I will have for sale. I'm not saying it's over- I just need a break.

Thanks for reading- I'll keep posting!
ciao- Maureen


My Art and My Soul said...

Sorry to hear this Maureen. I hope you take the time to heal and come back feeling stronger and more creative than ever. Cheers, Sally

Cyndie Smith Designs said...

I hope this respite will help you heal and leave you without that lingering pain, Maureen. Breaks from work aren't bad (unless forced, I guess) and hopefully you'll find an outlet for all that creativity that has fueled you for so long. Try to enjoy your time off and get well soon!

HappyDayArt! said...

I'm sorry about the pain Maureen. I hope you find something you can do in the meantime that makes you very happy. I hope you heal fully. Sometimes these things take longer than can honestly be predicted. You have so many people that care about you. Let's wait patiently together.

Catherine Witherell

tkmetalarts said...

So so sorry to hear that previous attempts are not curbing your pain. Take care, and I'll be sending good vibes and healing thoughts your way.

Cynthia Del Giudice said...

So sorry, Maureen! I hope you find a solution fast! I can't even imagine living with chronic pain like that. I'll be thinking about you. Hugs!

annebocci said...

Taking a break will help, hun! Relax and heal yourself.
A while ago, I had horrible carpal tunnel pain from my constant wire work, and a much-needed break cured it.
We're here, and will await your return!

perseverance said...

I had to deal with chronic pain for seven years before I was finally correctly diagnosed with abdominal adhesions. So I completely understand!
My words of advice to you are to keep yourself moving, if you rest to much it will create new pains and don't accept that you have to live with pain. Stalk those doctors till they are so sick of seeing you that they actually figure out a solution.
Sincerely with much sympathy

Barbara Lewis said...

Maureen, I'm so sorry to hear this ... because you're so incredibly talented. I met you at Kate McKinnon's in February 2011 during the bead show. I've had two rotator cuff surgeries as a result of loading heavy kiln shelves ... I used to be a potter. But the silver lining is that my natural curiosity led me to torch fired enamel. So, here I am, as happy as a clam. I pray that the same will happen to you. That you'll find a creative outlet that leaves you feeling invigorated instead of feeling as though it's a substitute for something else you'd rather be doing. :-)

Zoe Nelson said...

"perserverence" said it right. I have overcome chronic pain, also, and just wanted to tell you that it will get better. She's right - keep on those Dr.s butts! I really hope it eases up soon.

Courtney said...

I am sorry to hear this. I hope this break allows you time to find a way to deal with and/or diminish your pain.

Jewel Clark said...

Hey Maureen,
I'm so sorry. I went about 6 months with a compressed disc in my lower back in constant pain- couldn't sit, couldn't turn over in bed, couldn't stand up after I'd been sitting without my knees nearly buckling from the pain, etc. PT worked to knock it all back to manageable levels but I can sympathize. I hope you find some relief soon so you can get back to the bench! Sending good karma your way.

jenniferpolson said...

Hi Maureen, I just today posted that I am continuing my hiatus from metalsmithing due to shoulder issues. I've had two surgeries this year, and my initial injury was in Dec. 2010. I've been accused by my orthopedist's physician's assistant of being a pain medication searcher. I am not. I just hurt. I am holding you, AND me in my thoughts and prayers for a full, painfree recovery. All the best to you. Remember, ice is your friend.


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