I spent the entire long Labor Day weekend in my favorite sweat pants and a cotton t-shirt with cut-off sleeves and socks. It really doesn’t matter that my shirt sleeves were gone but their absence did create a bit of balance with the long pants I wore despite the weather being plenty warm enough to wear shorts. Since most of my interaction with nature in recent days has been through glass windows and brick walls I opted for comfort over sensible in my wardrobe choices.
For the third time in as many years I’m recovering from wrist surgery. I’ll clarify right now that I did not have carpal tunnel surgery. My carpals tunnel just fine, thank you very much. The tendons, however – specifically the part where the thumb meets the wrist – had chosen to be uncooperative on any given day and at their moodiest liked to show their anger at the most inconvenient times. And while an elective surgery, it definitely needed to be done or the having only one functional hand thingy would have quickly become pretty bothersome.
The recovery of the two procedures on my right hand was longer than expected so I am not holding out much hope that this will be better. I figure it’s better to be realistic. I didn’t anticipate the long-term issues as my right hand healed; and not that I’m expecting the worst or anything, but the surgeon agrees that things could go the same direction and capabilities that I had prior to the original tendon pain could be lessened.
For almost two years, basically since they revised the original surgery, I have seen enough of a decrease in abilities in my right hand that when doing any writing or drawing the quality of my work is greatly reduced and sometimes painful. Knowing that, by having the same surgery on the left hand I could likely be sacrificing the same – albeit not my “go to” hand when needing to accomplish said work.
Not trying to reduce the pain and release the tendons so I could use the hand as fully as possible was not even a consideration to me. Fortunately, I have a terrific ortho surgeon who listens and asks the right questions before she discusses any treatment options. She recommended, we agreed, and we scheduled the surgery.
I’ve had a handful of people contact me asking why they didn’t know I was having surgery again. Well, at the risk of sounding like an arsehole, here’s the thing – it’s not your hand so why would I need to tell you? After having the work done on the right hand I got pretty tired of people expressing their sadness for me when it became increasingly evident that any detailed artwork would be out of the question. While I appreciate the concern and support for my work, few people actually listened when I explained that I am really okay with the way of things and there truly is nothing to be done to change anything that doesn’t involve the surgeon. I am a firm believer in worrying about what you can control. Everything else – suck it up.
Besides, as difficult as this may seem to some of you this wasn’t some big “slap in the face I might die if I can’t create art” life-changing moment for me. Art isn’t the end all be all for me. If you thought that, you don’t know me at all. Just because one can do something with a hint of success doesn’t mean it absorbs them. At first the most sensible thing to do was to work with my left hand. It was time-draining and certainly doable logistically, but ultimately aesthetically the end work didn’t look or feel right. So, I stopped. At the beginning I did have a lengthy conversation with a prominent local artist whose work and ethic I respect, and he gave me some tips that might lessen the obstacles. I haven’t entirely dismissed those options actually. They just aren’t the direction I wish to take right now or maybe ever.
What I am going to do is what I’ve been doing since I learned of this unexpected bump. I am going to do whatever the fuck makes the most sense to me in the moment. That’s right. Surprise! I’m the only one with a say in this. And do you know what else? There are other ways people can be creative should they choose. Visual art isn’t the only art form; and while this has also affected my ability to play some instruments for the time being, there are other musical options, too, you know.
So, you see, to me this is not a problem that needs fixing. Nothing is broken as far as I’m concerned. Maybe that isn’t easy for some to understand, but that’s how it is. Maybe I’ll write some more. Maybe I will do nothing but visit with other artists, look at some art, drink more coffee, read a few books, and play with my dogs. Frankly, I don’t miss doing art. The break has been nice, actually, and writing has been a good balance/filler. There are always other options for redirecting my innovatory energies if I opt. And truthfully, if I weren’t clever enough to figure that out I could hardly consider myself creative, could I?