A Personal Journey and Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis Survivor, Elizabeth Wald: Making Custom Made Jewelry
Let me tell you like it is. I have been blessed with a handicap. This may sound strange but it is really true. Having lost my career as a fitness instructor to daily pain and nerve damage from foot surgery, it was funny how I just kept on going until my body gave out. I was in denial. I really never gave thought to my Rheumatoid arthritis.What can be the most positive result of this?I will tell you, my RA friends. You learn who you are on the inside. You respect your limitations. You get rid of those myths that the outside has to be beautiful. In my generation, I grew up with the ‘narcissistic mother’ that was very common during those times. I was never good enough, pretty enough, thin enough or tall enough, and when I got ill, I looked great to Mother – after all - I had lost weight and looked anorexic! What was missing in this generation was the concept of EXERCISE. Movement. The intrinsic values of feeling strong and healthy. The inner values of exploring our creativity. This was never top priority throughout my childhood, which extended to my adulthood.Suffering from physical pain every day, I have learned that people do not want to hear about it. This is when you learn who your real friends are. Another blessing. I go out of my way for handicapped people. I know their pain: compassion. Yet society does not see our pain when we have RA. They do not comprehend that surgery is serious with delayed recovery time. That we hurt badly each and every day. Our pain is invisible. They do not even KNOW what Rheumatoid Arthritis is! Melinda Winner, author of Cooking With Arthritis is a pioneer in creating awareness with this debilitating disease – through her creative cook books and with her humanity. Melinda too, has compassion. Cancer? People bring food to your door. They are there for you. RA? ”What’s that?”
I will tell you what it is, only if you believe me that at my most desperate hours of pain, I was able to lose myself in a craft that may have saved my life, if not my soul and spirit. I have learned to put the pain in the background – with these arthritic hands – and I have learned to make the tools do the jewlery work. Hand wire wrapping sea shells takes patience and practice. It takes vision and hope. I was a disaster for an entire year before something came into place. It was one evening when for some reason I was calm. I wrapped a sterling silver wire around a shell with no restrictions on perfection – unlike my childhood. I just let it go. I let the pain go. I let every painful experience of loneliness, in my newfound disease go. I was free. I was careless. I could breathe.That is when my first wire-wrapped shell came out perfect. It was not intentional. It was the result of letting go. That necklace had so many bidders but I could not sell it. When I finally let THAT necklace sell, I was healed from selfishness. This was a newfound freedom that can only be described through my fist contact with Melinda Winner. The wire-working came in to place. I started closing my eyes when wire wrapping the next series of necklaces. I FELT the shell, and the wire against it. I just let the feeling of the shell guide my hands, as my friend Melinda, has given me a new strength in moving forward. In trusting myself. Guiding me to take on this disease, and not let it control ME. I am more inspired than ever to make each and every one of you feel empowered with your new ‘bling’, to feel beautiful from the inside out. Because that’s what you are.I want to thank everyone who takes the time to look up close at my work: see what you can do with your arthritis and trust me, if I can do it – ANYONE can do anything they set their hearts to, if they REALLY want to. The roadblocks are real: we have pain that is indescribable. I know all of you too well in this aspect. So I have one suggestion: cry! I do all of the time and it feels great. Then be sure to end the pity party before it ends you. Move on at that very moment you let go, when you think the tide will never change.