Designing With Chronic Pain

Posted by: TashaChawner


I've been living with chronic back pain for nearly 4 years now.

Some days are better than others.....

Some days I can't feel my right leg below the knee - other days I can.

Some days I can't think straight for the headaches - other days I'm a clear as a bell.

Some days I have to take pain meds every 4 hours - other days I don't have to take them for days at a stretch (I really like those days).

My love - designing jewellery - requires that I sit down for periods of time.  Whether it be while I'm creating a piece, doing associated paperwork or working online - I tend to spend quite a deal of my day at my bench.

For me this isn't so good - it adds to the compression on my nerve, which adds to my pain and loss of sensation.

love my work, so how do I deal with my chronic back pain?

My kitchen timer reminds me to get up and stretch.  This is a habit that anyone working and sitting for long periods at a desk should adopt.

Depending on my day and pain levels, my timer is set for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.  Every now and again (I'll be honest here) I ignore that confounded thing and work past my time limit.  I always regret it, as I'm then very sore and wish I had of gotten up.  I've found the best way of getting around this is to place the timer on the other side of the room.  That way, when it goes off I have to get up, otherwise it just keeps on beeping and annoys the cr@p out of me!!

My family (bless their boots) gave me a kneeling chair for my birthday last year.  The kneeling chair helps to reduce some of the pressure on my lower back.  And it's not hard on your knees at all!

When the buzzer goes off, I get up and do some of my stretches that the physiotherapist has given me for my back.  Prior to my injury (and in the months after) I couldn't manage a single sit-up.  Now I average between 30 to 50 a day - I love having a core!

And then there is giving myself a break.

Not, as in the time break, but the break that if my pain is too great and I can't concentrate on what I would like to be doing, I give myself permission to have the day off.

I tell myself that there are others in the world far worse off than I am, and that I am blessed to have such a supportive husband and children - and I have the opportunity to do what I love.

Please share your story here.  It is always inspiring to know that other creative individuals can make pieces of beauty, despite sometimes difficult circumstances.


Comments (9)Add Comment
written by Cathy, November 05, 2010
Running this site has shown me how many people do indeed suffer in some way or another. Many of the members here have health/physical problems. I think being creative helps enormously as it's a way to have a little escape mentally. I hope some of the others see your post because I think it's good that you all support one another. :-)
written by TashaChawner, November 06, 2010
I hope some of the others see your post because I think it's good that you all support one another. :-)

I completely agree Cathy.
I almost gave my craft away, until I met (online) a lady who creates jewellery with only one hand. She inspired me to keep going.
Looking forward to hearing from some other TAS members too...
written by sand625, November 08, 2010
Art is such wonderful's no surprise really that so many of us here at TAS are fighting the pain demon...I have fibromyalgia and a cocktail of meds to deal with, but rediscovering my creativity has given me a lifeline, and the net plays a huge role in that.
Your timer use (just like me lol) has reminded me of Michael Nobbs (did I get the ae the right way round?? Tsk) he's an illustrator & writer based in north Wales who has ME. His site, Sustainably Creative is chock full of excellent tips and he has produced a few ebooks too. Have a peek-
And good luck. So glad you're managing to continue with your creative outlet...yeah, I've wondered about those 'knee' chairs too...
Sand x
Doing this on phone so can't read it back and edit, so apols for errors smilies/sad.gif
Thanks for tweeting this cathy, I'd have missed it otherwise smilies/smiley.gif
written by TashaChawner, November 09, 2010
Thanks so much Sand :-)
And thank you too for the link to the Michael Nobbs - am checking out his page and like what I see!!
Best of luck too with your fibro. I have friends who have it and have seen just how difficult it can be.
Take care.
written by ladyrainbow, November 15, 2010
I have both rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Used to design jewelry but I can't do it as much anymore. I still paint and sketch even though it still hurts to do so. I can't live without art. Being creative helps me deal with the pain.

Thanks for this entry!

written by littletoad, November 16, 2010
thanks for sharing this great article and story. recently i had to make a huge medical decision which has led me to be on bed rest until further notice. for someone who loves to be up and moving around this has been quite a learning experience for me. however, not wanting to leave my art I am currently running my business from my bed. having my art gives me a reason to get up and gives me a reason to work through the pain. i wonder how many small business have sprung up because of medical necessity. i know i am healing at the rate I am because I have this great art community behind me and I am so thankful for reading other stories like mine.
much luck and recovery in your life.
michelle {littletoad}
written by TashaChawner, November 23, 2010
Annie and Michelle,
I wish you both the best. And am so glad that your creativity and art is a helping you through your pain(s) and recovery.
Cheers and happy wishes,
written by NotJustHandbags, December 14, 2010
Great post and nice to know that there isn't only me in this boat! I have had RA for 15 years now and it has gradually got worse over the years. I design and make handbags and my passion is creating, however, I have to be careful because when I am in a creating frenzy the pressure that I put on my hands when cutting out means that I am in pain for the rest of the night. Its strange though because at the time because I am in my creative haze as I like to call it I don't feel the pain. In a strange way I have RA to thank for having my dream job if I was 'healthy' I would still have been working full time in a job I hated. Having RA meant that I had to rethink my life and cut down my hours. I started to create and decided to retrain doing art and design which had been my dream as a child. So it may not have been the route that I would have chosen (or wished on my worst enemy!), however, it has led me to a life that is wonderful and makes up for the pain. Hoping you are all having a pain free day! Elissa x
written by Sylvine, December 21, 2010
I have found that doing something creative....which I truly love....seems to transcend pain in a lot of ways. I realized a few weeks ago that I was wire-wrapping jewelry despite having a debilitating migraine....totally uncharacteristic of me to do anything with a migraine other than sleep.

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