The past few years my health has steadily gotten crappier and crappier. I’ve had to put a lot of things on hold, from college right down to doing art and other hobbies of mine. It’s partially a choice. I’m sure I could continue if I forced myself, but there’s no point in kicking myself in the ass. It would only make my health worse, and I worry it would be permanent. There actually was a time where I pushed myself, and I ended up in the hospital.
I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been into drawing, but I’ve taken up painting in more recent years. I also do a few crafty things like jewelry-making and crochet. But since my health has been on a downward spiral, I’m finding I’m able to do these things less and less.
Drawing has become near impossible for me. Sitting at a desk hunched over a sketchbook is quite possibly the worst position to be in when you have Chiari. This always causes my back and neck to knot up and I get a burning kind of pain. It only takes 15 minutes of sitting to start knotting up.
Drawing in itself is also painful. My elbows get a red-hot pain, and the muscles in my hands cramp up, especially when I’m filling in with colored pencils. It only takes about 10 minutes before it gets unbearable. The combination of the back pain from sitting and the arm pain from drawing makes me feel hot and nauseated. Yes, it really does get that bad. None of my medicines seem to help.
Painting isn’t as painful, which is odd considering I’m holding my arm up in the air instead of resting it on a desk. That’s not to say it doesn’t eventually start to hurt, though. But the pain from sitting is just the same. Hot, crampy, aching muscles.
Playing guitar is where I really lose it. Not only is it painful, but I’m losing my coordination in my hands, and my memory. My hands are pretty weak, so I can only play for 10-15 minutes before I have to stop. But in those 15 minutes, I can’t play through a whole song. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12, I should have the motor skills to play without messing up. But I don’t. I’ve never been able to play through a whole song. Something is impairing my motor skills. My memory makes it difficult for me to learn new songs. I feel like I am in a constant brain fog.
I’ve had to put learning Japanese on hold. I’ve talked about it before, but I’ll reiterate since it ties in. I just can’t seem to remember anything I study. My brain is like this empty cache that immediately disposes any new information. I’m having a hard time coming up with sentences in English, let alone a second language. I feel like I’ve developed some kind of learning disability. Stuff just doesn’t click. When I read it doesn’t absorb. I can’t do math in my head. I can’t give someone directions within the town I’ve lived in for 15 years. Something just isn’t right.
The reason I am taking a break from all these things are so I don’t associate them with pain. If I keep trying to do them when I hurt so much, I’m afraid I will get discouraged and give them up completely, and remember them as things that cause a lot of pain and frustration rather than enjoyment. It’s a fine line I’m walking right now.