February 5, 2008

Wrist issue that I deal with...

In my post a couple of days ago, I referred to my wrist problems. And that I worry that over the years this blog could start to sound more like a medical history than an artist's journal. So I will try to keep this brief, if you want to know more, you can ask me and I will pass along a longer email (it even includes x-rays) that I sent to some friends recently.

Four or five years ago, my right wrist started to hurt, and there were some particular processes in my work that seemed to exacerbate things – specifically sanding the interior surfaces of the shades. A cortisone shot helped for a while, but mainly I swapped things so that I was working more with my left hand. That worked for a long while, but in October, I suddenly had major pain in my left wrist. It took a long time to recover enough to allow me to get back to lampshades, but three months later, I got back to work. In the meantime, I was able to do small projects. Mainly that meant bottle stoppers, which are lots of fun, and very popular with my clients. But not making lampshades was a shock to my system. To a very large extent, I define myself as the person who makes these lampshades, it is challenging and interesting for me to make them, and I take a lot of pride in these large turnings. To some extent, I suppose this was a sneak preview of my future: at some point in my life, it will become beyond my physical capabilities to make lampshades. But not yet, not for 10 or more years I hope!

What happened to get me back to "shade-shape?" Well laying off surely helped, gave my wrist a chance to recover. And I developed a couple of technical solutions so that the steps in making a shade that were the most stressful on my hands are not so bad anymore. Finally, just at the point where i was able to get back to work full time, I also saw a terrific hand expert who explained what was going wrong, and understanding the underlying issues turned out to be a great relief, almost exhilarating.

To make a long story short, I have extra long ulna bones. The ulna is the smaller diameter bone running the length of our forearms. I have probably had this condition my whole life, but the work I do has brought it into play as a problem. There is a name for this: "ulnar impingement syndrome." The head of the ulna bone is getting pressed against a pad of cartilage that is in my wrist, kind of below my pinky. Seeing my x-rays and comparing them to the structure of a normal wrist is remarkable, and the diagnosis is very obvious. I have irritated that cartilage pretty badly in both wrists, maybe there is some small amount of shredding there too.

The good news is that I have adapted my work techniques to reduce the impingement issues. Even better for the long term, there is a surgical procedure that would shorten my ulna bones, and it is supposedly very safe, and does not put me out of action for too long. I don't have any plans to get this surgery soon, maybe never. But if and when I need it, I will get it done and move on. There should be no reason that this medical issue will stop me from making shades long in to the future!

Hooray!!! So now I am back to work full time. It is taking me a while to get back to full strength, but the shades are getting made, they are as good or better than ever, and I am happy to be doing what I want.

February 1, 2008

Been too long since my last post

Wow, hard to believe I have let things ride this long without a new post. I could say I was too busy, and that is an excuse that has some credence up until October. But for three months beginning in early October, I was unable to make lampshades, due to a wrist injury. I guess i will tell you more about that in another post, but I have this fear that my blog will become a running inventory of the nicks and bruises that come from being a turner of large scale objects, at an age that seems to be catching up to me. I will try to keep that under some control so that this does not sound like the TV show ER!

In any case, I am now back to work full time and trying to catch up. I accumulated a large batch of special orders to do this winter, more than I have had for many years, and sales were great throughout the fall. So, I guess my legitimate excuse for not posting to the blog will be in effect again. Still, I have lots of stories to tell.

•• The wrist injury, for those of you who want that sort of info.

•• A lovely huge commission that got installed in November

•• Our trip to Australia over Christmas to visit the exchange student we hosted last year.

I could also tell you about our Empty Nest Syndrome, as our son has gone off to college. Or my newly revived interest in photography. Or you could ask me questions about my work, my passions, whatever. I am never sure anyone is actually reading this blog, so please let me know what you find interesting. I will try to post about the topics I listed above, in the near future.

Thanks for reading, Peter