Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Broken Painting Arm

Two weeks ago I had a fall on a small patch of ice in my driveway and badly broke my left wrist.  I'm LEFT-HANDED!

I can't begin to tell you how upset and frustrated I was to learn that I could not/should not paint for perhaps two months. I have shows coming up, and workshops to teach.   It changes my world.  At least temporarily.  Not only is the break still painful, but there is the scare of surgery hanging over my head.  The orthopaedic surgeon told me on Friday that he still has to see how it's healing in another two weeks.  If it's healing well, he says, I should be out of the woods.  Otherwise....

I am feeling very sorry for myself. I'm frustrated that I can't paint and that I can't even  drive.  I live in the country.  I can't walk to a store or even catch a bus or get a cab.

Someone once said that there is a lesson in everything.  Although I would still like to get my hands on the person who said that, I have to admit that, after two weeks into this experience, I have begun to learn some lessons.

I find it a huge challenge to ask for and to accept help.  I'm not sure which is the most difficult of the two. I feel that I don't want to bother anyone.  I try to do things myself.

My daughter and her family have been my bedrock.  I can't begin to describe the support they give me.

The most difficult thing for me has been learning to accept the outpouring of generosity by my friends.   It's much easier to accept from family.  One friend came and stayed with me for a few nights.  Another comes nearly every day to give me a Therapeutic Touch treatment.  A group of old friends chipped in to buy me 10 deli frozen dinners and a bouquet of parrot tulips. One friend spent several hours helping me photograph the work for my upcoming show in Vancouver.  Neighbours down the road have dropped off soup and cake. Other friends are driving me to appointments and for grocery shopping. Another has offered to change the sheets on my bed! And there are more offers daily.

I feel humbled and vulnerable and I'm learning that the best thing I can do is to accept their gifts wholeheartedly and graciously. This continuing generous outpouring often has me in tears. I think that this will be a lifetime learning for me.


  1. Oh no! I hope it mends quickly, Janice. The artist needs her tools! Best wishes for speedy a recovery, Helen - from Oz

    1. hi helen
      thanks for your good wishes. much appreciated.

  2. Hope you have a speedy recovery Janice. See how loved and cared for you are?! When I had knee surgery, people from church and neighbors came over with food, took me to my appointments and rescued me from "Let's Make a Deal" and "The Price is Right" (daytime tv...gack!). It really is humbling....it's easier to help someone else than accept is ourselves. Hope you are back painting soon!

    1. oh you are so right chris, it is so humbling. i am filled to the brim!

  3. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
    It's moving to hear about the outpouring of goodwill.
    I hope this doesn't sound stupid, but Is there any chance of doing any work with the right hand? I'm a righty, but have sometimes played with doing under layers with my left hand (I do abstracts with oil and (often) cold wax). I've found it sometimes frees up certain gestures.
    Do hope your wrist is better and that you're back in the studio soon.

  4. Hi Lynn
    Thanks for your good wishes.
    Surprisingly, using the right hand also involves using the left; to undo tubes of paint, to squeeze out paint...try that one handed...to hold the panel that you are working on steady. We take so much for granted. However I'm sure it is possible and if I were to be one-handed forever, I'm certain I would figure it out. For now though I think I'll spend the time doing all the admin work I've put off way too long. Typing with one hand is way easier than painting with one hand.

  5. Very sorry this happened, Janice. Hope your wrist mends quickly and that you'll be back in full creative form soon.

    1. Thanks Don. Just can' wait to get back into the studio.