Right Elbow

In November I had my right elbow replaced by the same orthopedic surgeon that did the left in 2016, Dr. Michael Wiater. My right elbow has been bent ever since I can remember. Looking back at pictures of my childhood, it probably began at age 4-5. I remember doing physical therapy for it as a kid. I was very stubborn and didn’t follow up with the home exercises as I was instructed. It never hurt too bad, and as a kid, I probably didn’t pay too much attention since my ankle pain overtook everything else. Eventually, it continued to restrict and stayed in @ a 45° angle. Over the last few years, it really began to hurt and I became more self conscious of it, especially in short sleeves, summertime, etc. I knew this one would be much more of a challenge, but since the left elbow surgery was a complete success, I decided to have the right one done as well.

Dr. Wiater had a much more difficult time in the OR with this one. Usually it can be done in about 2 hours — it took him four! Apparently, my bones were very hard and even after the new elbow was in, the joint could not be fully straightened– probably due to the soft tissues. Needless to say, I was in more pain afterwards and recuperation took a bit longer. Physical therapy helped regain function and it doesn’t hurt anymore, but my arm may never be completely straight.

After this surgery, my painting life slowed way down and eventually came to a standstill. I found other creative outlets to keep busy and after a while I was afraid to paint. It’d be two more years until I would pick up a paintbrush again.

Portraits, Progress & Pain

I have been distant from WordPress and blogging for quite some time. Life has been hectic but progress has been slow.

The boys are both back in school and into the swing of things, my husband has been traveling internationally for work, and I’ve been recuperating from my left elbow replacement surgery on the 19th of September and a pinched/aggravated ulnar nerve in the right arm due to overcompensation.

Once again, my mom has been a Saint helping me with household chores and the boys – I couldn’t do any of it without herđź’•.

Walter White
Breaking Bad’s Walter White

Thank God for Netflix; with two “gimpy” arms, there’s not much else one can do! I watched the entire series of Breaking Bad over a three-week time period, discovered Versailles on the Ovation channel and watched several docudramas to learn about the French Monarchy from Louis XIV to XVII.


Prior to my surgery, I started a Portrait Class at the BBAC in the hopes that I would only take a few week hiatus to heal. After all, it is my non-dominant arm and I’m quite the pro by now at this surgery thing – I never anticipated my painting arm to be affected! I started PT this week and am using my at home TENS machine for the nerve. I’m hoping to get back to class next week. Fingers crossed.

I had also taken on a commission for a friend of mine that I began in September. I am working on it from time to time when I feel well enough. Thankfully she’s being completely understanding. It’s a double full-body painting of my friend and husband based on a candid photo taken during a professional outdoor photo shoot. It’s proving to be quite the challenge, but I am gaining on it, “elbow-it” slowly…

Hands

Right Hand
My Right Hand

My hands have been hurting — a lot! So, I took a breather from class for a couple of weeks to rest my wrists and hands.  X-rays reveled, to no surprise, the cartilage is gone and my wrist bones are all smooshed together. My elbows are also in bad shape! Come to think of it, my shoulders are the only joints left in my entire body that have not acted up! Yet! Touch wood, now! As my Indian family would say.

I fear that the very thing
that I love to do
will be the downfall of me
— again!

Lost and Found

The next few years would prove to be a very difficult time both physically and emotionally. I had two growing, busy, little boys and my arthritis was rearing its ugly head once again. I was having a lot of trouble with my lower back and the nerve block injections I’d been receiving for two years weren’t working anymore. My ankle joints had been completely shot for a long time; there was no cartilage left and the pain was getting worse. To make matters worse, I developed severe colitis that landed me in the hospital on Ethan’s second birthday. Needless to say, I fell into a deep depression…

Over the course of three years, it took a therapist, one GI Doctor, two incredible Orthopedic Surgeons, my loving family, and a fuzzy orange tabby, to put me back together again!

In March of 2010 I had my left ankle replaced using the (STAR) method. I had my right one done 14 months later. My surgeon, Dr. Gregory Berlet is a leading expert in the field and had been involved in a variety of clinical trials. He is a remarkable man and a terrific doctor. My life has been forever changed because of him!

X-Rays
New Ankles_2011

In between the two, I had back surgery. After meeting with several disappointing doctors, I found Dr. Mick Perez-Cruet, another lifesaver! He literally “wrote the book” on minimally invasive back surgery and is also a wonderful, kind man. In December of 2010, I had a lower lumbar fusion. He discovered that the cartilage had worn completely out, thus causing my agonizing pain. Once fused, the pain was gone immediately! Compared to the ankle surgery, this one was a piece of cake! I was up and “running” in a few weeks.