Thursday, June 6, 2013

breathing a little easier, but difficult decisions ahead....

in my last post, i mentioned that i was still having trouble breathing and i had put a call in to my doctor in the hopes of getting in to see him and find out what the hell was going on with me.
they were able to fit me in later that afternoon, and i found out some very interesting things...
first of all, surprisingly enough, i do not have allergies! ha!

all my life, i have had such bad sinus issues i just assumed i had allergies as well.
my doctor informed me, and i have the paper work to prove it, that most people in new orleans register about 100 on the allergen level tests. 
i am a 6.
no allergies.

but..............what i do have or, rather did have, was an allergic, asthma-like reaction to an outside substance.
translation: resin. bad.

yep, the magic sculpt i have loved does not love me.
i have suspected it might be at the root of my breathing issues for a few months, but i did not want to admit it.
between the baby powder i was using to keep it from sticking to the table and the odor of the resin itself, my lungs just had enough. and to top it off, i also got a nose-full of pencil shavings that same day when i emptied the pencil sharpener.
so, he described my lungs as being similar to getting a bruise: it is going to take a while for them to heal.

he gave me a treatment at the office and a prescription for a rescue inhaler, just in case.
but, his main advice was give up the resin, and if you can't wear a respirator when you work.
he told me of another patient who works with wood, and has the exact same problem. this work is his livelihood, as sculpting is partly mine, so the man has to wear nose plugs AND a respirator in his own studio. 
now, that is devotion.
unfortunately, i am NOT that devoted.

it was recommended that i take some time off from sculpting to let my lungs heal up.
i have done that.
and in that time, i have thought about how to proceed with my art; with my sculpting.
what do i do? do i buy a respirator and wear that thing all the live long day?
do i cut down on the powder and see if that was the trigger?
do i go back to paper clay?
give up sculpting completely?
all these questions.
surprisingly enough...i didn't freak out at the prospect.
i thought i would, but i didn't. 

i have my painting and i have my jewelry, and i have the paper clay. it's not like i can't go back to using it. but, i wanted to be sure it was something i was comfortable with.

i think it would be an easier decision if i hadn't heard from several people that my new work with the resin was my best work yet. how do i deal with that notion? how to i just go backwards? will it be possible to continue in a forward motion if i go back to paper clay?
can i use the resin just for detail work? 

all these questions are still milling around in my little noggin, mostly unanswered at this point.
i just can't seem to make a decision.....
i have a piece for a show 3/4 of the way finished sculpting wise.

i will finish it this weekend with the help of a mask.
i hope i can do it. i'm kind of scared.
but i really want to finish it. 
after that, i just don't know.

i think i am going to spend the summer painting and making jewelry.
i might pull my paper clay out again and see what i can do, but i am not sure at this point....
this has all been a little painful to absorb.
but, i suppose i don't have to make a decision today.
it feels good just to talk about it a little bit....
maybe the answer will come to me when i least expect it.
have a fantastic rest of the week and a great weekend!



wonderStrumpet said...

Ohhhhhhhhhh that is horrible news - I'm SO sorry! What about polymer clay? I bake mine in the basement in a tiny convection oven so that I don't have to absorb the fumes (cause it stinks)... you'd still be able to get the detail you crave without having to use powder!

I hope you figure out a way to make it all work - it's been fun watching you reach these last few months!


Anonymous said...

Hi Amber,
Just wanted to say I'm sorry for what's been happening with your lungs. After being diagnosed with Graves and having to give up my beloved yoga practice due to weakness and bilateral shoulder tears, I thought what was I going to do now???? Anyway, I stumbled upon your site one day through Etsy and LOVED LOVED LOVED your work. I read your blog posts and viewed your awesome work and I said, THAT'S what I want to learn to do. You have been a huge inspiration to me and I have learned so much from you and I am having more fun sculpting and playing with paints and clay, etc. than I have ever had doing anything else. The ideas coming out of my head are crazy fun! Just wanted to let you know that and whatever direction you take with your art, I am sure it will be just awesome. You are extremely talented and creative and again, thank you for all you do - you make people smile and feel good with your art and I, for one, am just one person whom you truly inspired to try something I've never done before, and be able to replace something I had loved so much with something totally different. Thanks again Amber - be well and I wish you good health and happiness.

Amber Leilani Middleton said...

sarah, i don't have the space for polymer and i don't think the smell would work for me, so i am probably going to go back to paper clay. it's what i started with and it doesn't seem to bother me. i may use the resin down the line for things like horns or antlers....wherever i need a little extra strength...thanks for the lovely words!!

Amber Leilani Middleton said...

thank you so much, anonymous...i wish i knew who you were so i could thank you with a proper name!! lol! i have had an absolutely horrid day and reading your loving words have made me so happy, brought a tear to my eye, and reminded me that there are still nice people in the world. thank you so much!!! you might be interested in knowing, if you didn't already, that this is not my first time having to give up something i love and finding another outlet: i had a bad wrist injury about 4 years ago that put my jewelry making on hold and stopped the bead weaving i had done for almost 10 years. that is how i got into sculpting. it has done my heart good to hear i have inspired someone else as the artists who i found when i first started sculpting inspired me!! xoxo,amber

Christina J. said...

I'm glad you at least found out what was causing the breathing problems. It's more important to breathe than to use resin! :) Seriously, this fork in the road will likely take you to new places you haven't thought of before and your artwork will flourish because of it. I, of course, am always interested to see what you do with beads! Take care of yourself, my friend!