Monday, August 6, 2018

Health issues affecting my abilities & significantly reduced studio time

hand-coloured polymer plate print
varied open edition
image size: 5 x 9 cm (2 x 3.5 inches)

It is the first week in August and you might have noticed that I hadn't posted any new blog entries since May.
I have been dealing with two problems involving my health and that have been affecting creative pursuits.

About 13 months back I started to display some mobility issues with my right shoulder accompanied by noticeable pain in the rotator cuff. I was referred for physio-therapy and did this for several months usually once a week. However there really didn't seem to be much improvement occurring.

By mid winter I noticed real discomfort occurring while using my right arm that forced me to limit the amount of time and type of physical work being done ie. creating plates. It was especially difficult when I was using a press (the manual rotation movements required for turning press gear handles).
The inflammation and accompanying pain would require me to take a couple of days of rest before I could resume anything. The exception was low impact activity like painting small work, as the arm and shoulder joint weren't as taxed. But this also required shorter duration periods of rest between applications.

In the spring I was referred to an orthopedic doctor. Back in the late fall I underwent ultrasound imaging. In April I had more detailed imaging which confirmed I have a sizable calcific formation located between the bursa muscle and the joint in my right shoulder rotator cuff region. The recommendation of the surgeon was for me to undergo an ultrasound guided lavage (needling). This procedure has a syringe tip puncture a protective barrier that surrounds the calcification, fracture the deposit and allow the calcium to leach from the area and absorb back into the body. After a lengthy wait I finally underwent the procedure last week. I am presently keeping the arm and shoulder moderately active during recovery but not subjecting it yet to turning press gears. It has lifted my spirits a bit too and there are a few projects I am anxious to return to asap.

The other major health issue is still unresolved and has proved to be a bit of a mystery. I was experiencing digestive issues back in the fall and early winter (some discomfort after eating but also some other things like fatigue, sensitive spots around the body.)  I altered my diet to reduce fats as I believed there might be a link.  After undergoing a number of imaging procedures (colonoscopy, endoscope, barium xrays and CT scan) nothing proved to be a problem with the digestive tract. Some guesses were made about it being gastritis. Conditions like irritable bowel were not looked at though. The restricted diet caused my body weight to drop over a a period of 2 - 3 months by 20 lbs. The problem of the last month or so has been trying to regain weight...I am finding this to be very difficult. Have made some slight improvement (a couple of pounds over the last 4 weeks) by really increasing daily calories. (referring to info i obtained after doing some online research for healthy sources of calories). 

I have still been experiencing short periods of discomfort after consuming some foods that contain fat (although I have made it a point to consume low to moderate fat in the diet...after all we do need some facts for body function). And I am mindful of daily physical activity so as to not burn too many calories. Unfortunately some of my favourite activities during the warmer months have not been possible ie. hiking, kayaking and even working on home renovation projects. It is just something I have made peace with for the moment. Hope the slow gain in weight will eventually have me back to a normal life down the road. 

For the meantime I am working with health care providers (and a dietitian) to explore possible issues with my metabolism, thyroid problems and also other organs like the gall bladder, pancreas and liver to see if we can determine what is the root cause. (CT scan didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary and the doctor told me that the dreaded "c" word was not detected.)

To keep my spirits up and also keep my creative juices going have been hand-colouring some small prints from the storage drawers. I also have been working on a small acrylic painting or two. These activities are not really painful on my arm and shoulder.

Last but not sign my rotator cuff is improving is I can put my arm behind my back without too much pain. Couldn't do this since last July. It may be the benefit from a shot of cortisone that was also injected at the end of the lavage needling. Will have the shoulder area imaged in about 6 weeks time to determine if the lavage has succeeded.