I have been an artist all my life, but do to alot of personal struggles with a difficult marriage, involvement with a religious cult that tore at my heart, accidents making me handicapped and disabled, my art work was put on hold for many years and then again due to the emotional issues of many personal traumas.
When I finally did get back into my artwork, it was with less satisfaction that before all the hard times had occurred. I hadn’t the same skill levels or confidence or ability to re-enter the commercial world since I am not disabled and in poor health.
I want to make a new legacy for my children, who have ridden through the storms with me and I want to rise above the poverty I have been forced to live in during the aftermath of my cult involvement and marital disaster.
I want to do what I do best, but have been torn in so many directions for the last 30 years, that I lost myself along the way and felt less than adequate to make it in this world and so settled for living in survival mode and doing without most of the things in life we take for granted.
Trying to find out who I really am, as to who I became due to adversity led me on a journey cross country trying out some new things and getting into being a volunteer for various causes, that gave me a sense of purpose at the times I was doing them, but still left me alone afterwards and becoming reclusive. life is so full of disappointments but also alot of good things when I look beyond the pain of it all.
I want to take back my life and pick up where I first detoured and try once again to make something of myself that I can find a sense of accomplishment and reward in. I feel it too late to complete college as I wanted to become a doctor, but now my health is so poor , at best I’d end up as my own patient and for that I would want a second opinion anyway, lol..
I thought of being a lawyer, as I have had some experience working for some and in doing research, but at my age, I don’t feel I would be able to gain much of a future other than to finish college, so I am redirecting my efforts to what I used to do best, my art.
Still even with my art work I face alot of obstacles. During a domestic disturbance back in 1984, I severed my right wrist on glass by going through a window and was left with claw hand deformity and couldnt use my hand. I tried to use muy left hand but was never able to regain my skills with it. I had some corrective surgery and was given about 15% use back.
I was inspired by Joni Erickson Tada, who can paint with her mouth as she is a quadraplegic. She is a very positive Christian speaker , although her body no longer works after an accidnet she had when she was young. Her story made me think. I coudnt continue feeling sorry for myself since I could walk and move my arms and so I began trying to draw, taping a pencil on my hand.
I then tried painting again and could , but was always feeling my art work wasnt good enougj for anyone beyond my own family so I never considered trying to make a living at it again.
Six years later when I hurt my back, I was seeing a new orthopedic surgeon, Dr.Robert Supinski in a little town in north central Pennsylvania called Coudersport. He is an excellent doctor and did some pioneering work in sports medicine, but loved the area and moved there. Finding such a wonderful doctor in so remote an area was amazing, since my prior surgeries were in New York City and Philadelphia, I never dreamed of having use of my hand again let alone by what most would consider a country bumpkin doctor. Dr.Supinski proved to be anything but. The man is a highly talented, innovative and motivated surgeon.
He glanced at my hand and asked me what happened and I told him. He said he could do microsurgery on my hand and give me its use back. I was in awe. I had given up hope on it six years earlier.He promised that when he was in there that he would be extra careful and only do what he felt confident would improve function. He said if he ran into any thing suspicious that he would stop the operation and close it up thus assuring me it would be no worse than before.
I had the surgery, the third surgery since my accident. When I first woke up I remember moving my fingers and being able to make a fist. Some of the paralysis was gone as well as some of the numbness I had for six years.
I welcomed the pain as it was ‘feeling’ and that was one thing I never thought I would have again.
Then Dr.Supinski told me that there was more that he could have done, however he didnt want to risk me losing any more motor functions. He is an excellent orhtopedic surgeon and I am very grateful to him for what he did for me, even though I was only on medical assistance and he didn’t get paid enough for what he did for me. Many surgeons give minimal to substandard care to those on medical assistance as I found out later in life.
I was very grateful and began therapy at home. Soon I could hold things without dropping them. The only remaining problem from the first suregery was on the outside area of my wrist having a large neuroma still. He said he examined it and couldnt be certain that removing it would give me any use back .If I make contact with that part of my wrist with any surface it gives me a nauseating electrical shock. Also my pinky finger remained numb and somewhat shrivelled. My fingers however could now flex and hold onto things.
Dr.Supinski said he even found more glass slivers in there near the nerve that caused alot of my problems preventing conductivity. He said to that some of the damage wasn’t from the accident as much as from the first surgery by a guy named Dr. Raju [a so-called prominent hand surgeon on Staten Island in the 80’s] who wrongly allowed a resident to perform most of the first surgery as he didnt care, since I was on welfare at the time and had medicaid.
Most surgeries require post op appointments. Since I was on medicaid Dr.Raju refused to see me.
At my first follow up visit at his office, Dr.Raju wouldnt see me and had his nurse tell me to go to the hospital clinic for follow up. I insisted ont talking to him since he was my suirgeon. I told her I was an artist and when I was in the ER at St.Vincents on Staten Island, that I had requested to be stabilized and sent to Belleview Hospital in NYC since they had a world class clinic and were on the cutting edge of the latest technolgy.
The ER doctor hd stitched my arteries closed til I was brought to the OR. The cuit was a clean straigh line across my inner wrist but to the bone, detaching the ulner nerve and 4 branches of the ulner artery, the flexor tendons and ligaments attaching the muscle in my forearm, causing my hand to pull tight backwards. I had tied an electric cord on my forearm as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding which was profuse.
The ER doctor began stitching my arteries without novacaine as my injury was too serious and he told me that I could have bled out in 90 seconds. It was torture but it was to save my life so I held as still as I could and bit my lip. He stopped the bleeding and stabilized me so I could go to the OR.
I told the ER doctor at St.Vincent’s Medical Center on Staten Island [ which didn’t have trauma status at the time and I knew it] that I didnt want them repairing my arm since they weren’t qualified as a trauma hospital and that I was an artist and needed a specialist ,so that was why I wanted to go to Bellevue Hospital in NYC where they do all types of hand surgeries including reattachments and reconstruction.
I said I just wanted them to stop the bleeding so I could go there. The ER doctor said that they [the hospital] were bringing in a “hand specialist” and they could repair it right there in their OR. They were partly responsible for what happened next.
They did the surgery. I woke up in agony with my hand in a cast and bend strangley. A clinic doctor came in and told me that they had ‘bad news’ for me. She said the damage was far more extensive than they anticipated and that they had to cut further into my hand and arm to reattach the tendons and muscle and in doing so they ‘accidentally’ cut into my median nerve as well and couldn’t repair the ulner nerve. She said they were able to reattach ‘some’ of the arteries but the others were left cut off.
As a result, I had 95% nerve damage and could only expect to possibly regain up to 15% of the use of my hand back!.. I was devastated… a simple clean straight cut that turned into a butcher job! I was now unable to work and lost my new store, home and everything else. I was ruined. I had 3 small children at the time and ended up having to live in shelters for nearly 14 months til I could get a new home and start over. These were some of the hardest years of my life and it was their fault.
Dr.Raju had told me that he didn’t actually perform my surgery that the resident at St.Vincent’s had done it and he was there only to advise and observe since he didn’t work on Medicaid patients. I told him that I was only on it temporarily and that I was an artist and just got my store open and I would have paid him. He said he was sorry but that I was already under anesthesia when he arrived at the hospital and that he had no idea how much I needed my hand, so it wasn’t his fault according to him and that I should do my follow up care at the clinic.
After my post op visits were completed, I called Bellevue and made an appointment at their hand clinic. They had all my surgical records and evaluated my hand. they said, had I been brought there that they could have restored at least 95% of my mobility back and that St.Vincents did a bad job on my hand and should I want them to operate I would have to wait til it was totally healed about 6 mos to see first if any function returned and that they would have to do nerve conduction studies before they could do anything else, as some function might return within 6 mos. Meanwhile I was out of work and lost my home and store. I moved to Philadelphia with my children’s father.
While living in a shelter in Philadelphia after another domestic distubance with my children’s father, I was referred to the Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia to Dr. Lee, in their hand clinic. Dr. Lee had pioneered a proceedure called the ‘ Intrinsic Tendon Transfer” and because I had been a domestic violence victim that he was willing to accept medical assistance as full payment. He said his proceedure was still experimental and would be done on the back side of my hand. He would dissect and cross link the tendons which would enable me to open my fist and bend my hand to help regain some mobility. He said he wasnt going anywhere near my first surgical site and hoped to give me some hope. He did and it enabled me to pick things up and hold them, but I would often drop them after a few minutes since their cutting of the median nerve accidentally at St. Vincents, the muscles around the thumb and forefinger would still continue to atrophy.
Still it was an improvement and withing a few years I began drawing and painting by using masking tape and attaching them to my hand so I wouldnt drop them.
After leaving Philadelphia, I returned to Staten Island for 3 mos, since my family all lived there. i couldnt find permanent housing so I moved upstate NY and lived in that area since then, but moved acorss the border to north central Pennsylvania, which led to finding and meeting Dr.Supinski.
During the 90’s I learned to use my hand again and didn’t some sign painting and commissions to supplement my income, but developed other medical problems and went on disability, settling on raising my children and doing some art on the side for gifts and decorating. I found little time to paint and draw, so I don’t have much to show for the 90’s.
Since then, my children are now grown up and mostly married, while I got divorced and now live in a small farm house in Pennsylvania and have time to paint and enjoy my artwork.
My niece Kerry Ann told me about Etsy and I have opened an online Art Gallery and store and hope it leads to more work and that I find people who may want my artwork. The URL is I hope you like my artwork…:)