The Artist’s Shoulders

My right shoulder. Now also my like my left shoulder.

My right shoulder. Now also my like my left shoulder.

It’s been over two years but finally I have an appointment with an Orthopedic Surgeon regarding my shoulder issues. To be fair to the Doctor his waiting list is only seven months and not two years – I should of insisted to the walk-in clinic Physician to refer me to one when I first was almost literally crippled with a painful, swollen arm and shoulder.

Been thinking about the economics of being an artist, and by extension, the dynamics of perpetual living near the poverty line.  For example, clinics are the only real option for those who can’t find or get to their own GP. You have less than an ideal long-term relationship, and they in turn have to make a call on a stranger’s predicament.

In my case, it was kinda misdiagnosed as Bursitis and that explains a great deal about why the treatments did not work – at all – for many months. I saw a second clinic doctor who initially agreed with the first. I saw a physio therapist, as prescribed, and for sure those over-head-exercises were a terrible idea and helped to further aggravate what is actually wrong with my shoulders.

Unfortunately for me, getting instant relief via a cortisone injection was next to impossible, as it was “only allowed” by prescription from an Orthopedic Surgeon.

Ok. Remember the aforementioned seven month waiting list? So it didn’t seem to make sense to either clinic Docs to request an appointment.

I think there is a bit of Doctor politics going on and they did didn’t want to look bad by referring a patient who *probably* had something that didn’t need a specialist’s time.  I mean, it does not make much sense to me that cortisone is so well guarded by such venerable stewards such as Orthopedic Surgeons. It’s not like Oxycontin or something. People don’t buy and sell cortisone shots in back alleys do they?

I think this chain of events is due to income and associated issues of accessibility, resources and support network. That’s bad enough but it gets worse, because I think the normalcy of this kind of situation is – strictly speaking – very bad for the economy.

Cent for cent, I believe everything is more expensive near and below the poverty line than anywhere else on the income scale. Where I have been living for three years is rife with evidence of bad planning and continued decisions that are largely reactions to both the real and perceived poverty of this Ward. I and others think many of these decisions actually keep this area in a perpetual state of decline.

My shoulder woes are also largely a reaction to the economies around me and I have not even touched yet on artistic, career and social impacts this has had – both positive and negative. I think I have had many insights through some truly unexpected twists and turns. One of the biggest insights for me is that I’m actually quite privileged compared to most people, and there are many with much less than I in worse situations, and they all handled it better than I’ve been handling this. I can only imagine.

A series of blog posts to document called “The Artist’s Shoulders” is something I’ve been thinking of doing for awhile now. (I really wanted to make a pun with it involving Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” but haven’t got a good one yet. That will have to a be a subtitle later on).

I’ve been looking forward for a chance to describe this ordeal so far, and why I think it’s happening. I will try to clarify some of my more pertinent thoughts on health & creativity in our society. I don’t want to forget what’s happened here, and I’ve also been feeling that way as an artist lately.

So in my upcoming posts I’ll talk about what is actually wrong with me and why it’s not fixed – and why that is so troubling for me. Plus other weird shit happened I gotta get on the record as this is going to be a long process. In the meantime, here some links to interesting work involving the effects of poverty on both the mind and body:

Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function: Recently in the news, and rung familiar for me as I read about it.

Decision fatigue: I remember this came out a few years ago.  Making lots of important / stressful decisions results in some sort of brain fatigue that results in bad decisions. This applies to CEOs and Politicians but also very much for those caught in the cycle of poverty. The example given as I remember was of a low-income single parent going grocery shopping. Lots of decisions, and they are ALL important because you are poor and thus that person experiences this kind of fatigue.  This is very familiar to me as well.

Food Desert: A food desert is an area, typically a populous urban environment, in the industrialized world where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain. (Wikipedia)

Stay tuned..


  1. Pingback: Three Text Paintings from 2005ish | Christopher Healey
  2. ireneloughlin · September 3, 2013

    This is really great writing Chris. I shouldn’t complain about the month wait for the MRI while I jostle around not knowing whats wrong with me!

    • artlistpro · September 3, 2013

      Oh dear – you’ve had your fair share of fighting through health issues and adversity! Hope the MRI helps and glad it’s only a month.

      Also, I *just* mailed you a letter an hour before reading your comment. Ha! Hope it reaches Ok. You probably know what it is…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s