Thursday, May 21, 2015

Artists and Disabilities

I usually don't post about personal issues, but I wanted to reach out to others like me out there.

I wanted to know how you deal with the drive to be creative and the obstacles thrown in your way by your disability.

I am dealing with Degenerative Disc Disease, Osteoarthritis of the neck and spine, stenosis, spondylosis of the spine, osteoarthritis of the knees. Severe tendonitis in my arms from using a cane every day. I can hardly work at my desk since looking down at my desk causes terrible migraines and intense burning in my neck and sharp pains to shoot thru my face from my neck. Not to mention the torso pain caused by trying to use my hands!😧 from my thoracic osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease, etc. Plus my Dr's think my epidurals and pain killers are what's causing my adrenal insufficiency, which causes severe fatigue, nausea, headaches, etc. After taking a short 10 minute walk I have to lay down for an hour to recuperate.

Here is a picture of me having to lay down in bed and work because the pain in my neck gets so bad I cannot sit in a chair and look down at my hands at all, I have to lay on my side keep my neck straight and bring my hands up to eye level. ;^(

How do you use your creativity to take your mind off the pain, and how do you manage to be creative?

Search on net found,


  1. Working professionally and hobbywise with other beaders who deal with chronic conditions causing pain, and having my own bouts of medical issues that went on for years, the biggest thing is to let go of expectations about life and your creative output that were formed while more able bodied. Just chuck those ideas in the bin.

    Get experimental in new positions and new positions. One fellow beader who cannot sit for very long discovered that sitting in an extended easy chair with a lap desk platform took all that sore pressure off her back and neck allowing her to bead comfortably.

    Personally, with arthritis in the hands, I cannot steam ahead for long periods without paying for it in finger tenderness. So I do things in smaller steps/stints. Gone are the days of wire twisting or bead sewing for 3 hours... so I work on smaller sections more often over a longer period. I no longer expect something simple will be done in one day but accept it will be done sometime. No idea when... but it will be done.

    Look at how something needs to sit in order to minimize the pain for the artist... and use that creativity to see the missing jig/tool/gadget that should be there to hold things in place. I rigged up a viking weave jig for a client with paralyzsed left hand so she could just place that hand on the jig platform (I also gave a vice grip for that purpose) and she could viking weave off a tapered copper tube soley with her right hand. She lived near another fellow artist who could finish the ends for her.

    Trial new techniques too, even if they don't excite you. I have found that beaded kumihimo is amazingly friendly for my sensative fingers!

    Most of all, be kind to your body. If you need to rest, try not to feel frustration and stressed. Just do that rest when it needs it.

    With metal work... look at what positions are comfortable to work in... and adapt your work station to suit the new situation. Metal can be formed, cut and filed lying down as easily as standing up! Getting into that crafting Zone can help just like meditation! But make sure that the position being done and length of time held in that position are not going to make the body pay later on....

    Be flexible in expectations and desires. Use that creativity to figure out new ways to do old passions.... Make that part of the creative challenge!

    1. AMANDAJEWELS!, Thanks for commenting, this is a sensitive subject for us. Especially due to the habit people have with pretending to be good little soldiers when someone asks how they are. 'I'm fine :)!' we've learned to respond without a second thought to being truthful about how crappy we feel.

      I love your ideas. Especially the lying down and working part. I have just recently started doing this, I use pillows under my elbows to prop my hands up high enough to work over my tummy, but my neck can't take it very long, I have to break often. But being propped up on pillows to reduce the strain of gravity helps alot.



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