Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's the Little Things That Count . . .

But Sometimes Big Things Make the Difference.

I’ve been looking for little things to hang my ‘I’m getting better’ hat on these days and have found several.


The first came a few weeks ago as I was finishing my daily toilette – always with a spritz from my favorite perfume, Amarige by Givenchy.  It only takes not being able to use one of your hands to make you realize how much you normally use that hand on a daily basis. Being left handed, I was so thankful that my ruptured disc affected my right hand, thinking, quite foolishly, that it would be less debilitating when the right arm went numb and the right hand went weak. The first time I tried to press down on the perfume bottle’s atomizer, I was shocked that I couldn’t do it pressing with my right index finger. OK, so not a big thing, right. I mean, my left hand could take over that task easily.

But there were so many things I couldn’t seem to do using my right hand. Buttoning pants. Unclipping the dog’s collar while holding the leash with the left. Reaching for and lifting out the large granola jar from the right-sided cupboard. Even opening the passenger side door handle sometimes proved impossible. And forget trying to clip fingernails on my left hand! My grip was gone.

Still not useable with my right hand.

So every day since I’ve been off the meds and have felt no appreciable pain in my neck or back, I’ve tried the atomizer test. This would be the test to tell me if the nerve damage was temporary or permanent. The first time it worked I was so surprised I actually missed my wrist – not really paying attention to where I was aiming. But then the next day it was back to futility. All my trying to push down with the right index finger was for naught. My physical therapist said this was normal, sort of like trying to get your car engine started after it’s been sitting around for weeks. It takes several starts to get the spark activating the neurons in the nerve, which is still healing. 

Today, I can report that while I still don’t have the strength to clip my nails easily, my index finger is working brilliantly and daily in the push-down-the-atomizer test. It’s amazing to me such little things can bring so much satisfaction.

It also doesn’t hurt to have friends and family mention how good I look or sound now that I’m completely off all the drugs. (And I thank god for those good drugs, which apparently kept me totally unaware that I was looking and sounding that bad!) Just another little sign that life is getting back to normal.

But there are bigger signs such as taking back routines I had to forego because I couldn’t move without pain, like cooking, shopping, tending the garden, taking the dog on his daily walk or visit to the dog park. Can I admit it was sweet to hear folks at the dog park say they actually wondered where I’d been all this time?  They saw Obie with my husband but still missed seeing ME. We’re a strange but fiercely connected group of people who congregate with our pooches at the park. We notice when someone is missing. Still, I was truly flattered to be missed.

Obie at the Alameda dog park - on alert.

And then, of course, there are the bigger issues I must face besides how to apply perfume when dealing with nerve damage. As I wrote earlier, my biggest fear was that I would never manage to get back into the studio to do the work.

I am happy to say as of yesterday, I have been in the studio, not daily but at least twice a week for a couple of hours at a time. I finished glazing the three vessels I started before the cervical rupture on May 5. Scarlett’s piece is part of this group. They will all be fired this week. But more importantly, I have another commission, one that has me very excited and looking forward to starting immediately. My friend Tina came for a studio visit a couple of weeks ago and has commissioned me to create a series of serving platters for her. We discussed clay body, glazes, size and shape and possible surface decorations. I plan to do a small prototype first to give us both an idea of what might work, what not and what she will choose for her specific platters. Who knows, this might be a whole new direction for me. I’ve already had another friend mention she, too, might like a platter!

So, platters it is.

It seems like such a small thing, but when I stand back and look at how far I’ve come since May, it’s huge.


Nancy said...

Bobbie, these are very big things! I'm especially happy to learn of your return to the studio. Hurrah!

susan klee said...

bigger things than spritzing the atomizer?? Hmm . . .
Bobbie! Here's a silver lining: Your writing is beautiful. And the platters, of course. Natcherly.
But your writing strikes me as powerful and beautiful, not a common combo: Keep it up.
From a fan.