Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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11/10/2004: "Art show guestbooks"

I was diagnosed with inflamatory arthristis when I was still in my early mid 20s (I'm convinced it's related to all the toxins I ingested in the printmaking lab). Most of the time it's only an annoyance, I can still hike up mountains in the summer, ski during the winter, etc. but when i have a flare up, it is often so bad that I can barely move. Well, yesterday I could feel one coming on and by last night I was hobbling around the house moving 2 inches at a time like a 90 year old recovering from hip surgery.

I won't be able to go into work today, I can barely type this as my fingers are so swollen I can't close either of my hands. Lying in bed last night I was in so much pain I couldn't sleep and couldn't stop worrying about what if this condition gets worse, what if it gets to a point where I can't paint anymore, a constant and ongoing fear of mine.

So to cheer myself up I went through and savored every single comment from my last guestbook; I tried to dicipher signitures, found email addresses of people I never contacted who said they wanted prints, basked in the warm sentiments of friends and strangers alike. I can't tell you how much it lifted my spirits.

I still have every guestbook from every show. If you haven't had one before, you really should. Ask a couple friends to start it off for you by writing personal comments because if someone starts it off just signing their name others often continue to do the same thing, which is really boring. Also, as you go around and make chit chat with everyone, tell them where the guestbook is and ask them to sign it. You'll maybe feel like a needy whore at the time but you'll be happy you did in the end!

By the way, I'm curious how many of you already keep guestbooks...also, does anyone know if artists have guestbooks at upscale galleries or if it's considered tacky?

Replies: 6 Comments

on Thursday, November 11th, Dio said

Gawd, that's nasty - how long do the flare-ups last usually? That must be a nightmare. Is there a case for having a go at the college for not following Health and Saftey rules? :cry:

on Friday, November 12th, Elise said

Yes, very nasty indeed, no way to prove it's related to my toxic printmaking days though...I'm feeling a little better today. I guess we all have shit we have to deal with...right?

on Friday, November 12th, holly said

Aw, I feel for you. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 15. In the past 5 years I have had to walk with a cane (not related to spraining my ankle, LOL) several times, ocassionally need help getting out of the tub, and have horrible problems with my hands and wrists swelling. My sister has it also, and had one of her knees replaced when she was 30.

I have found that certain foods really aggravate the condition (as well as certain weather conditions). Echinacea is very bad for me, as are potatoes (noooo! I live for mashed potatoes), but my sister has a very bad reaction to citrus fruit. The alleles that trigger arthritis are elusive, and now the meds that were touted as the be-all, end-all for arthritis pain are beng yanked off the market.

I know what that pain feels like, and I empathize. By the way, did you ever find a pair of quilter's gloves, or will Santa Holly be sending you a pair for Xmas? They really do help...

on Friday, November 12th, Elise said

That sucks Holly. In another way, it's encouraging to know with someone who has the same thing as me can be so strong. It seems that when ever I start getting in really good shape, I'll have an extended episode and it will knock me on my ass again.

I notice my inflamation is related to the weather, my cycle, and also certain foods, including cheap red wine (my favorite) and other random alcoholic drinks. Also, potatoes can be bad, as well as other "night shade" veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

It's very bizzar. And no, I forgot all about the quilter's gloves, but if you really think they'll help, I'll go and buy some this weekend. Thanks for the suggestion and empathy. It's hard when I can't do something and my friends don't understand how serious it is and think I'm just being a woosie.

Oh yah, and I used to take Vioxx as well. Now I have to worry about. I really should try to start going to the gym again. It can't hurt (right?).

(oh, sorry about your sister too, I had to have knee surgery too and it was miserable. I'm just waiting for the day they can grow spare parts in vats like in sci fi movies!)

on Saturday, November 13th, holly said

Do you knit? That helps my hands immensely, even when they're swollen. Doing squats has done wonders for my knees, and I thought it would really tear them up. It was rainy all week and I only had one "stiff knee day" (and that was partly due to standing all day). Also, for your poor hands, have you tried a parrafin bath? Oh, feels gooood.

It sounds like we have the same condition, and I really have found the quilter's gloves to be helpful- I don't know why. Maybe the compression keeps the swelling down.

Here's to spare parts and synovial tissue in vats! Sign me up!

on Saturday, November 13th, Elise said

I started knitting last winter but I never tried to do it when my hands were hurting, it seems counter-intuitive that it would help, but I'll give it a try. You should check out this blog I've just started reading that I love called QueerJoe's Knitting blog Be sure to read his "Newcomers" link.

Anyway, thanks again for the advice, I may also get a parafin bath today if I can find one. I don't feel at all guilting trying things to help with this problem, I can even write it off as a business expense. After all, my hands are my most valuable business tool, right?