I apologize if you’re family or a friend, you’ve heard this story. Heck, you’ve not only heard it you’ve lived it with me! I’m not normally a whiner but I AM pretty verbal about what I discover in my research and my attempts to live a healthy life. :) If you’ve stumbled onto this post searching for information then welcome! I offer up my story and share with hope that someone who is struggling may find insights through my experience.
I know I’m not the only one who suffers with this. By nature, women face a triple threat of risk factors when it comes to arthritis: biology, genetic predisposition, and hormones and I know quite a few men do as well; take my father-in-law for example, he’s a retired rancher has similar painful thumb issues. My journey began over 12 years ago when tingling hands began waking me at night with strange sensations of nerves being pinched off and then what felt like blood rushing back into the bizarre numbness. At the same time, I began finding any hand work like gardening, weedeating, appliqué, knitting, or time spent rotary cutting my pieces for quilts was painful for my thumbs.
Tip #3 Rest from hobbies. This definitely helps.
Tip#4 Try Grastoning. I found this through a chiropractor in Austin and it really seemed to help, as long as I continued to receive the technique.
Tip # 5 Climate matters! Moving from a fairly dry climate in Texas to a damp one in Portland, Oregon then onto a cold and wet one in Nashua, New Hampshire didn’t help the pain. Oh yeah, there’s a reason folks retire in Florida and not the cold northern climates.
Tip #6 Wear soft splints during the day and hard splints at night. Seek medical input. I sought help from an orthopedic doctor and he prescribed physical therapy which sadly, only caused more severe pain because it turned out I had mal-alignment in my thumb joints. Apparently, the x-rays he insisted on were fairly useless. :/ Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did on this.
Tip # 7 Chiropractic help! Shortly there after, I lucked out and found a great chiropractor who’d adjust my thumbs and the pain instantly went away! I think I scared her the first time she adjusted me because I burst into tears! The pain instantly stopped!! I could actually move my hands pain free! I was amazed and thrilled. As long as she adjusted me regularly, I was good. I did find that it was only for a brief periods of time and with any of my normal activity eventually my thumbs fell back out of alignment. Simple things like folding socks, holding a paint brush, pulling on my bra strap, or picking up a purse to toss on my shoulder caused severe sharp pain.
After years, I found the picture on the right and I was amazed! This explained it!! This was what kept happening to my poor lil thumbs, why they kept hurting so bad! I can only explain now that indeed, it felt as if my thumb was out of joint. What’dya know? Turns out it was! Notice the image of the overlapping joints. And by now I’d began to develop a inflamed bump at the base of my thumbs. So, when this condition continues with enough time it develops into the following:
Tip # 7 Gluten isn’t your friend. Now, I must say for sometime I also found relief with dietary changes. The same chiropractor told me that gluten in my diet could be an issue and was certainly not helping with inflammation. So, I gave it a try. I totally cut out gluten, which took quite a bit of studying, and was a bit of a learning curve, but helped! And, when I’d test it and splurge on something with gluten the reaction was severe. It was as if an icepick had stabbed the joint!! No kidding. It made that kind of difference. That bought me a few more years.
Tip # 8 Try homeopathic paths to pain relief. Throughout the years of my journey I also found relief when I tried a more homeopathic approach to the pain. I discovered that an imbalance in one’s body’s PH can cause inflammation as well and drank enough PH ION Green Superfood that it seemed to helped.
Tip #9 Give the crazy a whirl. I also invested in an Ionic Foot Detox bath and felt it helped with inflammation. I’m fairly certain you can tell, I’m not a huge proponent of our current medical system’s trend to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs.
Tip # 10 Try Tommy Copper compression gloves, I still wear these. I have no idea if the copper, that is woven into the fabric, helps or if it’s the compression all I know is they help when I wear them in cooler weather.
Clearly, I’ve tried every natural approach I could find. Then finally, when I’d exhausted every avenue I knew of and Aleve had become a constant for me, this past summer I took the plunge. My family had patiently listened to my aches and pains, accommodated my increasing inability to open packages and jars, adjusted their diets along with mine, and watched as the condition worsened over the years. They finally encourage me to stop struggling and seek a hand specialist for help.
Tip # 11 Find a GREAT doctor! After much research I set up an appointment with a hand surgeon who has repeatedly been listed as one of Dallas’ best doctors specializing in hand issues. For me it helped that he was a professor of orthopaedic surgery at Southwestern Medical School, hoping that kept him current on new procedures and techniques. Dr. Ellis advised that after tests were completed, I had severe carpal tunnel issues and severe osteo-arthritis in my cmc basal thumb joints. My dominant hand was to be addressed first. He offered cortisone injections as an option for treatment but as I’ve had negative issues with cortisone injections in the past and am not a huge proponent of the side effects on internal organs, I chose to have surgery. There were two options, either to have my thumb joint fused which would stabilize the joint and allow me to live heavy items but would not give me much range of motion OR arthroplasty. No choice for me! I need motion with all I do.
Tip # 12 Do your research! It’s your body, your recovery. Do your research. Here are a few more sites I’ve Pinned with info that may help: http://www.pinterest.com/sewlo/arthroplasty/
The process has been a long one and the journey’s not complete but I promise there’s hope if you too suffer with this kind of pain as you can see there are many options to help along the way.
First let me say, I’m no expert, I share only with the hope that my experience might help someone else. I’ve simply survived. 12 weeks down and I have made it through not only one, but two surgical procedures! I had CMC basal joint arthroplasty AND carpal tunnel on my dominant hand, at the same time. If you’ve had any procedure you probably know this feeling, kind-of like when you buy a new car and suddenly everywhere you look you SEE that car. While walking around all gimped up folks tend to come out of the wood work, they see your condition and share their stories…
STEP 1. Trust the process, don’t listen to nay sayers, and only accept the good. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to hear folks eager share their negative experience after the same surgery. If you did your homework and picked a great doctor, trust the process.
STEP 2. Let others do for you. Ok, this is where I’m saying do as I say, not as I do. Yep, I find it very difficult to let others do for me. I carried in too much weight in groceries and paid for it in pain. I was only supposed to pick up the weight of a coffee cup for the first 6 weeks. Our chunky chihuahua weighs a bit more than that again, I paid. Vacuuming is an compulsion for me, I did it and I paid dearly. Ok listen, LET OTHERS DO FOR YOU. Got that one, took me some painful times but I finally got it.
STEP 3. Whatever optimistic lists you made prior to surgery of things you were going to do during recovery, it’s okay just throw it out the window. It ain’t gonna happen sweetheart. Never thought all my drive would’ve left with recovery, but it did. The books I’d planned on reading while down, I couldn’t maintain a desire to get into. Oh well, let it go.
STEP 4. Pain medicine is there for a reason, use it! I’ve always been one to shy away from meds, meds and surgery. My family will tell you I’m the queen of vitamins and supplements but hate the need for pharmaceutical medicine and try to avoid doctors at all costs. I eat clean, whole foods and try to take care of my health. But during recovery, suck it up buttercup. Suck it up and take the meds. I’m heading into detox mode now to recover.
STEP 5. RICE. No not the starchy kind, the Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation kind. I found that a really large foam block was useful in elevating my hand at home and when I drove for any great distance. It was a shock absorber of sorts. Prop your hand up at night, wedged between pillows, elevate! Just do it. If you don’t trust me, you’ll pay.
STEP 6. Prayer. This really ought to be step one. Ask for prayer and accept encouragement. A physical recovery consists of spiritual support as well. To heal we have to cover all the bases, physical, emotional, and spiritual. You’re not weak, you’re just not well. You’ll recover better and more steadily with prayer support. Which leads right into…
STEP 7. Make time for friends. The last few weeks of recovery were the best for me. Why? Because I got to spend quality time with good girlfriends, giggling. They were awesome to see my weakness and helped carry my purchases at the Houston International Quilt Festival. In fact, time with them and subsequent time with my ol schoolmate Denise in Huntsville Alabama, was distraction enough that I found I no longer needed nerve and pain meds. Healthy recovery has to consist of laughter. Yes, it is the best medicine, that and time with good friends.
STEP 8. Do your physical therapy. I found the timer on my phone helped. It was tricky at times to keep on track while on my travels but, trust me. It does pay off!
STEP 9. Go easy on you. (If you don’t blog for months, the world won’t end.) Hopefully, you’ll have folks checking in on you and still reaching out, knowing you’ll be back. Accept you’re weak and it’s for a season. You’ll be back in full form in time. Time…it really does heal all wounds.
STEP 10. Embrace mindless distraction, for me it was Pinterest. Pinterest or as my friend Kathie said the Hallmark channel on TV. Whatever’s a good healthy distraction embrace it. I thought I’d dive into Craftsy. If you read my blog you know I should have. But honestly, it’s back to that “I didn’t have the desire to do so,” or even to BE me. Weird I know, go easy on yourself it’s going to be ok.
STEP 11 Celebrate the small stuff and be thankful. Our gratitude determines our attitude toward recovery. I found that something as simple as applying Jojoba oil with lavender and gardenia essential oil multiple times a day was awesome to help with scaring. Grateful it was a small thing with a big impact! And oh yes, elastic waistbands! They are your friend, time to embrace those cute print leggings that are so in style now but, be careful they can be the bane of your waist’s shape and existence. Be grateful, be cautious. ;)
STEP 12 Healing and health will come. It just takes time. Back to step one, trust the process.
(This post was inspired by Mrs. Jerry. Prayers for your speedy recovery love! If you reader have experienced this procedure or anything like it what did you find helped? I’d love your feedback. Thanks :)
Next post? Back on track, headed into creativity…
Luckily, the site’s not really down, it’s just me! Been awhile since I blogged. I’ve been prepping for, and now am in recovery from, surgery on my dominant hand. Had basal joint arthroplasty and carpal tunnel surgery. In layman’s terms, I blew out my CMC thumb joint and had to have it replaced! As you may imagine, it’s been kind of tricky to type!
I’ll be back as soon as I can. Until then, take care! :D
For foodie Friday I give you Peachy Sangria! At our house it’s a summertime party favorite. :)
I spent a chunk of my teen years in Germany where I attended K-Town high school. It was a military dependent’s school with the Department of Defense. While there, I met and fell in love with a bunch of other tumbleweeds, fun military brats. Sadly, we lost touch over the years for about 28 years in fact. But, this story has a happy ending, with the invent of Facebook we’ve found each other! We’ve loved the many wonderful opportunities to get together all over the US. Here’s a group shot of our last reunion in Vegas. We don’t look like brats, do we?! ;)I have to give a shout out to my lil K-Town friend, Wendi Franzyshen Brown of New Jersey. She’s the beautiful blonde dead center in this photo. She shared a version of this sangria recipe with me. She’s also responsible for the “Creative Gypsy” photo on my blog because, she took it during one of my visits to see her.
This sangrias’s incredible, refreshing, easy to mix, and like me, feel free to adjust the recipe you desire.
Peachy Party Sangria
2 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris
1 C. peach schnapps
6 oz. frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate
2-3 C. fresh fruit, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, grapes,
Mix and let mellow for a minimum of 4 hrs. This is even better the next day! I just add a little more wine as needed to the mix. Yummy!! Let me know if you try it or if you have a favorite recipe! :D
I can’t believe it’s been over a week since I was able to blog. Summer time fun, family travel, and prepping for surgery on my blown out thumb has had me busy! I have a few weeks to get ready for surgery so I’m rushing around finishing up last minute projects until I’m out of creative commission for a while. (I hear four to six months until I’m able to get even a bit of use from my right, dominant hand. “Rut Roh!” in the immortal words of Astro.)
My little friend Rie over at Marie’s Creative Space is at it again! She has another paper pieced star pattern up for download on Craftsy. I was supposed to help her proof the pattern but the aforementioned busy schedule got in the way! So, when I could, I printed out her pdf and played with some fabrics in my stash.
I had fun taking my lil Feather Weight on our recent trip to see family. They live out in the country outside of Tulsa so, when I had a few minutes from time to time, I jumped on this block. :)
Here’s the preliminary view of the block. If you’re at all interested in learning how to paper piece, Vanessa Vargas Wilson over at The Crafty Gemini has an excellent video and for beginners. I always tease that you have to be a bit dyslexic “to get” paper piecing. Maybe it’s because, you look on one side to line up fabrics and sew on the other so, your flipping your piece back and forth as you work. All kidding aside, it’s an excellent way to get precision piecing when you quilt, here’s a link to get you going!
Marie is one of those souls, you know, the kind that everyone can’t help but love. She’s not only incredibly busy being the office manager of LaMarre Concrete, her family’s business in New Hampshire, she’s a founding board member of the NHModern Quilt Guild. She volunteers regularly with her local guild and is becoming quite the pattern designer as well! She’s constantly got something positive and creative going on. So, you can easily see our bond even tho miles away. If there were a way to bottle and sale her energy, passion, and kindness we’d all be better for getting some of it!
I hope you’ll go check her out! :D
This is a great fast project! I found this darling hat on Pinterest, designed by Pamela W. Allen, and published on her blog Tangled. She appropriately named it Pixie Love. Of course, I instantly dug through my stash to produce this lil cutie!
I pinned her hat and it’s never lost popularity among my fellow pinning enthusiasts. So far it’s received 304 re-pins, 28 likes, and counting! Therefore, it seemed a good pattern to share with you. If you are new to knitting, read the next paragraph. If knitting’s old hat you might be surprised to learn a new tip for joining in the round in the video below.
For you fairly new knitters, before you panic and say there’s no way I can make that! Let me give you a few video tutorials that will have you rethinking your mindset. Let me also encourage you and say if you’re new to knitting or if you’ve just want to try it, it’s not rocket science. It does help to have a decent attention span and a little time to unwind to take on knitting but I promise if you will and you’ll give yourself time, you’ll find it’s very relaxing and peaceful. If you’re a visual learner, now’s the perfect time to connect with YouTube. This little hat’s knit in the round, it makes up really fast, count your stitches, place your markers, and you should have no problem making it. After you’ve cast on the appropriate number of stitches, Nancy Wynn’s video on knitting in the round can help you with that next step. Later when you get ready to decrease here’s a video tutorial from The Knit Witch on the k2tog (knit 2 together) decrease.
Pamela’s pattern doesn’t include the darling little star but I did some research and Nanette Blanchard has the pattern available for free on her blog, knitting in color. There’s information on that on my Ravelry page about the yarn and needles I used.
I like how tidy the decreases are from this view. I enjoyed making it so much, and thought it was so sweet that I had to make another! A lil girl version for our friend’s new baby, it’s here: Nora’s baby hat. Of course, little booties were just begging to go with it. ;)
Pamela’s awfully sweet to offer the pattern for free but, she’s asking that, “I offer this pattern for free, but I do hope that if you use it (and even if you don’t), you will make a donation to save the children …thank you!” Check out her site above for more info.
In prepping for my Fort Worth Modern Quilt guild’s free motion demo pictured above, I compiled a list of items and ideas to assist in the FMQ process. Beyond the basic things you need for machine quilting like a sewing machine, walking foot, and or a free motion foot, there are items that make the free motion quilting process go much more smoothly. Here are a few and in no particular order:
- Additional surface around your machine, tables, card tables whatever you have that can support your quilt as you work, helps.
- I love a large sheet of plastic vinyl laid onto of the surface under the quilt. Drape it across the table and onto the bed of your machine but don’t cover your machine’s throat plate. The smooth surface helps in the ease of quilt movement. I found it at Wal Mart for $3-4 a yard
- Adhesive backed Teflon “Sew Slip” sheet placed on the bed of your sewing machine, helps with the smooth movement of your piece as you quilt. (After many uses, if the sheet back looses adhesion, you can simply wash the back side to remove the lint. Just don’t use a paper or cotton towel to dry as then you’ve just reattached the lint. If it is really bad and the lint has embedded itself in the silicone side, you can actually run it through a dishwasher cycle. Stand it up against some plates and will come out good as new. Scarey, I know, but it works!” That info was from the owner of “Sew Slip.”)
- Packaging tape to hold the two previous things in place and together! ;)
- “High Tech” quilting gloves ;D aka a garden glove with the pointer finger cut, so it can flip the finger tip on and off as needed. This is an excellent way to answer the phone mid-quilt or turn on your favorite Pandora station to get your quilting groove on.
- Teflon washers “Magic Bobbin Washers”, assists with bottom thread tension
- Additional lighting, one can never have enough lighting! My fav? Ikea’s Jansjö flexible neck task light
- NEW machine needle, I like Schmetz Microtex 70/10 OR Schmetz Stepp-Nadel Quilting needle 75/11. Here’s some more info on Schemetz needles.
- Sewers Aid, a silicone based product that can help eliminate skipped stitches not only in free motion but also helps with fusible when you find you’re struggling with build-up on your machine needle.
- A great new book by Angela Walters, Free-Motion Quilting Workbook . It’s full of great ideas and loads of graph paper for doodling your quilting designs.
- Blue low tack painter’s tape is great for marking your quitting without “leaving a mark.”
- The Ultimate Marking Pencil for dark fabrics, irons off!
- Blue water soluble marker wonderful tool just never and I mean NEVER iron it before removal. The quilting mark will be permanent. : /
- 9 times out of 10 I use Connecting Thread’s long-staple, 3 ply cotton thread for quilting I wrote about that here: Your Thread Collection is Art
- I like Hobb’s 80/20 batting. It’s a bit more durable for frequently washed quilts.
- Oh! If it’s possible a really nice view. ;) I got lucky on this one! Surroundings can make you calm and you will quilt better. I promise!
Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share? I love questions and feed back so please feel free to comment or question below. :D Thanks!
I was tickled to be included in The Fort Worth Modern Quilt Guild, my shiny new guild’s challenge! :) I’ve quilted for close to 30 years but recently have enjoyed trying new types of quilting. No, if you’re “unschooled,” they’re not all the same. There are different trends and styles of quilting. There’s traditional quilting, which is the foundation of most of today’s quilting, think of what you’ve seen for years from your mothers or grandmother, traditional patchwork and appliqué. There are varing degrees of greatness within this form of quilting. I’ve learned recently, in the Arlington/Fort Worth area, there’s a group of quilters that are known as the DIVA’s and yes, they’ve earned the right to be called that. They’re experts in piecing, immaculate work, historians of fabrics and blocks. You’d be hard pressed to find ANY seam not perfectly matched or any quilting stitch awry.
While l I do appreciate this form of quilting, it’s not my passion. I love art. I enjoy painting and apparently it’s genetic. My grandmother was an excellent artist and did beautiful work in oils and our daughter Chelsea paints phenomenal oil portraits. So, it’s easy to see why I’d be drawn to art quilts. I venture to say my love has been the art quilt. Here’s an example of a fiber art piece, I created with a challenge group that started from the Austin Fiber Artists:I’ve spent recent years studying and working in this area. If you’re interested in seeing more examples, check out my Cobalt Blue Challenge post and another challenge, A Goose landed on my Daisy. If given enough time in one place, a break from tumbling as it were, this tumbleweed would love to cultivate this type of quilt even more.
In the past few years, however, the Modern Quilt Movement’s caught my eye. I attended a lecture with my dear friend Errin Risberger, a wool appliqué enthusiast, who I blogged about in May in the post Quilting Acres. We were retreating in Sisters, Oregon and attending their Outdoor Quilt show last July. I loved what Errin was up to in her quilting:
She suggested I attend a lecture with her that was to be given by founder and current board member of the MQG, Alissa Haight Carlton and I was hooked! Her infectious attitude about quilting and the on-line community is one of the reasons I decided to blog. And, I quote their blog, “The MQG developed out of the thriving online community of modern quilters and their desire to start meeting in person. The founding guild was formed in Los Angeles in October of 2009. Through blogs and the Internet, word spread quickly of the fun they were having and soon guilds started popping up everywhere… In 2009, Alissa Haight Carlton and Latifah Saafir founded the Modern Quilt Guild giving the online community a chance to form in person connections with other modern quilters.” The movement’s become quite a hit and next February, their second convention will be held in Austin, Texas where many of us will be attending “QuiltCon.” It’s exciting to see what this next generation of quilters are up to! Their style includes exaggerated use of traditional patterns, use of negative space, transparency, pixelation, and minimalism just to name a few.
If I’m making a quilt for a 20-30 something individual, chances are I’m going to do so with this style of quilting. Luckily, my decorating taste lends itself to this contemporary style. I fell in love with a quilt I stumbled across on Pinterest recently promoting a new quilting retreat in Tyler, Texas. It was made by Jerriann Massey for her new retreat house The Hidden Star Retreat that opened in June. It looks lovely, all tucked away in the woods. I can’t wait to check it out! It’s the perfect location for my Mom and I to retreat to, right between Shreveport and DFW. The quilt was pictured on her blog Annie McHugs. I really liked her contemporary flair and thought, now that needs to be made out of the Michael Miller fabrics. So, I now give you my quilt completed:
If you’re interesting in scrappy binding like this check out my post: Scrap Series: Scrappy Binding.
Better go do some hand stitching. I have binding to finish and a label to put on! :)