I have learned so much about production jewelry over the last six months that I swear I could teach a class in small scale manufacturing. It’s excellent- I love the work, I love my clients, and I love being treated like a professional. What I didn’t count on was how hard this would be on my body. I mentioned briefly a few weeks ago an injury that had me out of a right hand for over a week. I went to an acupuncturist for the first time and instantly became a convert. I thought I might share a few things I learned over this experience.
1. The pain in my hand was associated with some long running issues in my neck and shoulder and going into my back. When my hand got better my shoulder got worse, but when my shoulder got better my back felt better and then my hip quit hurting for the first time in months. I have taken for granted that my bones and muscles all work as a team and when one thing goes wrong it doesn’t work to ignore it, other things fail down the line, too.
2. Stretching isn’t just nice in the morning before sitting down all day at my bench, it’s essential! My mom gave me a little book years ago that had yoga poses for gardeners, and she amended the title to say “Yoga for
Gardeners Weavers” since it was all about working out the kinks that develop from leaning over something, kneeling, digging, and all the similar motions that I used as a craftsperson. Everything in it is just right, quick, and free.
3. When my hand flared up the stretches I was doing just seemed to make the pain more intense. Everything was already maxed out and the exercises were just continuing to engage the pieces in there that needed a rest. My acupuncturist recommended gentle massage and soaks in epsom salt- it has helped hugely while I am still healing.
4. Taking breaks. Working shorter days. Varying tasks. The hardest one for me. I have no advice, I haven’t figure this one out yet.
I thought I was taking care of myself before but I think I only recently realized that it involves work, maintenance, and an awareness that I was too lazy to bother with before. I’m a fretful person. I had a week of boredom and terror thinking about what I was going to do with my life if I couldn’t make jewelry anymore, which I now realize is a bit melodramatic! I’ve been working for the last two weeks and so far so good. I still don’t feel 100% and often cut my days much shorter than I’d like so I can give the tender parts a rest. Just another reminder that I’m not invincible. I guess I won’t be jumping off the roof with cardboard wings any time soon.