Sunday, December 31, 2006


player: Rashard Lewis, a top point scorer
team: Seattle SuperSonics, the struggling underdogs
injury: December 20, torn right hand
surgery: December 22
prognosis: out of play for months

Rashard Lewis wore a gauze wrap under black Velcro straps. Those are keeping him from moving his surgically repaired hand. That's not all Lewis wants immobilized. Even though he is likely to miss the next two months, the SuperSonics' second-leading scorer wants his team to keep him from moving elsewhere in free agency after this season. "I'm pretty confident I will be a Sonic for a while. I want to be a Sonic," Lewis said. Lewis talked before his team hosted New Orleans on Tuesday night, his first public words since surgery last Friday stitched tendons back together in his right hand. "Obviously, this is a setback for me," Lewis said. Then he smiled."Maybe it will make me a better player – I'll just work on my left hand and hopefully I can come back a better player."

player: Polly Sonic, a top point scorer
team: Iron Angels, the struggling underdogs
injury: November 20, broken right hand
surgery: November 22
prognosis: out of play for months

Titillation aside, there are real injuries. When her alter ego Polly Sonic broke bones in her right hand in preparation for the bout, Wingerter, a children's illustrator, had a hard time explaining it to her agent. The pins come out this week, and it will take another month or two to heal, but the roller girl just regretted sitting out the first event.
Wingerter, 34, is a former figure skater who felt she never fit in until she found the derby.
"The second I got out there, it was scary, but I've never been so in the moment skating," Wingerter said. "I was like, this was it."

The Journal News

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Mysterious behavioral changes of the last 5 weeks: the tendancy to fall asleep anywhere at anytime, intense introversion, an appetite for all kinds of meat, comfort with poor hygiene and a loss of vanity, a keen interest in anatomy and medical procedures, anxiety about physical safety, an aversion to travel and the outside world, an attraction to mainstream team sports, and the desire to speak as little as possible.

My hand has been shedding skin like a snake. I'm fascinated by the endless layers falling off the soft new skin underneath. Mortified at first with the idea of cadaver bone used to fill in my missing pieces, Margaret assured me my own bone will grow and eventually replace the graft with entirely new material. My therapy is building new muscle. My hand is essentially regenerating itself, and probably all the sleeping, meat eating and energy-conserving solitude has been to assist that.

Maybe there's more then bones being restored. 3 minutes after I fell my brain was refocusing everything. It's weird to find out how mutable we are, how quickly we can shift and adapt. Whatever else is shed and regrown is bound to be as quirky as these left handed drawings.

Friday, December 29, 2006


I've got a recipe in a cookbook that's just come out by Sharron McElmeel. It's the dish you've had if you've been to my house because it's the only one I make. I wrote it so long ago I forgot that the link between art and survival, in my case, is broccoli.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

all hands on deck

Steve posted this in a comment below:

My Great Grandma used to tell me a story from her youth, about a boy in her hometown who was posessed by the devil. He used to walk on the roofs of houses at night. Eventually, the devil was exorcised and burst out the tip of his pinkie finger.

That is so cool and I want more. I'm looking for hand stories of all kinds. Injuries, myths, theories, beliefs, quotes, facts, drawings, etc. Post in the comments, or email to me at merfire at

Meanwhile enjoy painted hands from all over the world like this one at the Hand Collector Gallery.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


A myth:
Psyche was a princess and so beautiful that the people began to worship her instead of Venus, which pissed off Venus. She sent her mischievous son, Eros, to make Psyche fall in love with something hideous as punishment. But Eros, surprised by her beauty while piercing her with his arrow, accidentally pierced himself too. He married her and took her to his palace on a mountain with the condition she never look at him. Psyche's unfriendly sisters convinced her he must be a monster and in the night as he slept she bent over him with a lamp and found he was a beautiful winged boy. But a drop of hot oil fell and woke him. Injured and furious with her betrayal he abandoned her. Psyche grieved and appealed to Venus, who gave her a series of chores to accomplish before leading her back to Eros, the first of which was to separate a mountain of lentils into piles in one night.

My latest therapy game is to pick up handfulls of dry pinto beans from one bowl and move them to another. At first I could only hold a couple which more or less just got stuck to the sweat of my skin from the effort. Now I'm able to grasp a pretty good pile. Next I'll graduate to split peas, then to rice.

A whole lot of fairy tales evolved out of Eros and Psyche and retain the lentils, like East of the Sun West of the Moon and Cinderella. Psyche finishes her impossible task with the help of an army of ants, Cinderella gets birds from her mothers tree. I'm not seeing any ants or birds lately, but the monotany of lentil picking has been majorly relieved by the full set of Lost dvds Eliza B loaned me. Thank god for you, Eliza B.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

hand: 12-26-06

My middle metacarpophalangeal joint, the one that connects the finger to the hand which broke, is moving relatively well while curiously the other two joints of that finger are still nearly totally unmovable and stuck in a bent position. I wear this little torture device, a spring splint, which applies constant pressure to push it straight.

But all the other fingers are able to move much quicker now. My best fist and straight hand two weeks into therapy. The pinky is finally able to touch the palm by itself.


Handedness is an attribute of human beings defined by their unequal distribution of fine motor skill between the left and right. An individual who is more dextrous with the right hand is called right-handed, and one who is more skilled with the left is said to be left-handed. A minority of people are equally skilled with both hands, and are termed ambidextrous. People who demonstrate awkwardness with both hands are said to be ambilevous or ambisinister. There are four main types of handedness:

Right-handedness is the most common. Right-handed people are more dextrous with their right hands when performing a task.

Left-handedness is less common than right-handedness. Left-handed people are more dextrous with their left hands when performing a task. About 17% of people are lefthanded.

Mixed-handedness, also known as cross-dominance, is being able to do different tasks better with different hands. For example, mixed-handed persons might write better with their right hand but throw a ball more efficiently with their left hand. This could also refer to pianists, because different sections of pieces are usually composed to fit the abilities of the different hands, considering that the right hand is usually for melodies and the left-hand, harmonies. However, some people often refer to handedness as the hand that a person uses to write, so this form of handedness is not usually referred to.

Ambidexterity is extremely rare. A true ambidextrous person is able to do any task equally well with either hand. The condition is very rare, although it can be learned (those who master it still tend to sway towards their originally dominant hand.

Most humans that are right-handed prefer to draw their circles and stir beverages counter-clockwise. Laterality in animals is also called limb dominance. Most race tracks are run counter-clockwise, which favors right-side dominant horses, as they take a longer stride with the right foreleg, which helps them turn to the left. Trainers of left eye dominant horses may put a blinder on the left eye to encourage the horse to turn the head slightly to the left and to take a longer step with the right foreleg just as right-side dominant horses do. Parrots tend to favor one foot when grasping objects (for example fruit when feeding). Some studies indicate that most parrots are left footed. Polar bears generally kill their prey using their left paw.

Monday, December 25, 2006


According to the craftsmen of the Middle Ages, that's why we have spiral patterns on our fingertips. They thought the whorls there are marks left by the soul entering or leaving the body. In this imaginative way of thinking, we infuse the people and things we touch in the world with soul by the care and attention of our touch. Our soul emerges from this mysterious place inside us and out through our fingertips, ensouling the wood we carve, the gardens we cultivate, the children and animals and lovers we touch. To me, this is a poetic way of imagining how we bring soul back into our personal lives—by paying attention to the very way we touch, as with the way we prepare food or the care we give our work or the manner in which we touch the earth.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Frida Kahlo

Frida suffered a bout of polio at age six, which left her right leg looking much thinner than the other (a deformity Kahlo hid by wearing long skirts). Nevertheless, Frida's feisty personality as well as her father's encouragement led to her participation in boxing and other "manly" sports, which helped her overcome her disability.

In 1925, when she was 18, she was riding a bus in Mexico City when it was struck by a trolley car. A metal handrail pierced her abdomen, exiting through her vagina. Her spinal column was broken in three places. Her collarbone, some ribs, and her pelvis were broken, and her right leg was fractured in 11 places. Her foot was dislocated and crushed. No one thought she would live, much less walk again, but, after a month in the hospital, she went home. Encased for months in plaster body casts, Kahlo began to paint lying in bed with a special easel rigged up by her mother. With the help of a mirror, Kahlo began painting her trademark subject: herself. Of the 150 or so of her works that have survived, most are self-portraits. As she later said, "I paint myself because I am so often alone, because I am the subject I know best."

Django Reinhardt

A google image search for "injured hand" was more than enough to stop my complaining. And it brought up some good stories.

At the age of 18, Django Reinhardt was injured in a fire that ravaged the caravan he shared with Bella, his first wife. She made imitation flowers out of celluloid and paper for her living. Consequently, their home was full of the highly flammable material. Returning from a performance late one night, Django allegedly knocked over a candle on his way to bed. While his family and neighbors were quick to pull him to safety, he received first and second degree burns over half his body. His right leg was paralyzed, and his left, or fretting, hand was badly burnt.

There followed a long period of terrible suffering. For a year and a half Django was bedridden and became increasingly frantic not about the serious condition of his leg but about the hand which refused to heal, threatening to put an untimely end to his musical ambitions. Whenever his mother who never left his bedside, asked him “What are thinking about, Django?“ he would reply, “My hand.” Seeing this, his young brother brought him, some time later, a brand new guitar in an oilcloth case and with this the injured man began an astonishing programme of self-reeducation which left the staff of the St-Louis Hospital gasping. By long, painful and lonely exercise the young guitarist succeeded, against all expectation, in overcoming his terrible handicap and inventing an instrumental technique that was entirely his own.

Monday, December 18, 2006


There are 19 bones in the hand. There are 5 metacarpal bones and 14 phalangeal bones. The metacarpal bones are located in the palm. There is one for each of the fingers and one for the thumb. The phalangeal bones are small, slender bones located in the fingers and in the thumb. There are 3 phalangeal bones in each finger and 2 in the thumb.

The fingers and thumb are often referred to collectively as the "digits". There are 14 small joints in the hand that allow for movement of the digits. The metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints are the joints that allow for movement between the palm and each of the digits. The interphalangeal (IP) joints are the smaller joints between the phalangeal bones of each digit. The thumb has one IP joint and each finger has two.

Ligaments are like strong ropes that connect bones and provide stability to joints. In the hand there are numerous ligaments that stabilize the MCP and the IP joints. These ligaments are located on the top (dorsal), bottom (palmar), inner (medial) and outer (lateral) aspects of these joints. There are other ligaments in the palm that work in conjunction with a thick tissue located in the palm (the palmar aponeurosis) to provide stability to the metacarpal bones.

Tendons connect muscles to bone. Many of the muscles that move the fingers and thumb originate from the elbow. The tendons of these muscles cross the wrist and attach to the bones of the hand. The large muscles that bend (flex) the fingers originate from the medial aspect of the elbow. The large muscles that straighten (extend) the fingers originate from the lateral aspect of the elbow. In addition to these large muscles, there are smaller muscles in the hand that flex, extend, abduct (move outwards) and adduct (move inwards) the fingers.

Finally, the median and ulnar nerves are the major nerves of the hand. These nerves begin in the neck, run the length of the arm and into the hand. These nerves transmit electrical impulses to and from the brain to move and provide feeling to the hand.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


It was easy to let other people take care of my hand in the first three weeks. The hideousness of it was safely concealed beneath a cast and pain killers. I refrained from looking at it or the xrays at my doctor visits. Now I have to remove the splint 6 times a day and manipulate it on my own. At the physical therapy office, surrounded by others in worse states of disrepair, and coached by an encouraging therapist, I'm a trooper. But alone with my sad hand, which feels like some foreign inanimate object transplanted at the end of my arm, I am prone to the most unbelievable pathetic bouts of weeping and self pity.

While I follow the prescribed excersizes it's clear how much the essence of my entire life, being, identity, and self worth has pivoted on my hands. In the context of me as an illustrator, puppeteer, fire dancer, doll maker, and artist, what I did, the risk I took, the mistake I made, was abominably stupid. My self is more in my right hand then in my heart or my head, and here I am, pretty much useless.

And I'm unexpectedly wishing to avoid the therapy. I try distractions to make it easier: music, tv, friends, wine, books, meditation, pets. But so far nothing works, so I shut myself up and indulge in outrageous pathos for the half hour that I warm and stretch my hand. I'm sure I'll eventually get used to it but for now my melodramatic side is winning out.

Photo: the hand today. Bruise fading, strange hard thickness of skin on palm and fingers persisting. I can make a better fist now.

Friday, December 15, 2006


This is the custom fitted plastic splint I'm wearing now. I've had 3 other hand imobilization apparatuses: the understated fiberglass forearm splint I sported at the bout, the flashy and massive post-surgery plaster cast, and the makeshift splint from the emergency room I was too traumatized to get any pictures of.

It's taken some getting used to my wrist being free for the first time in 3 weeks, and to my hand being this exposed. I also don't get nearly as much sympathy as I did from strangers.

hand: 12-14-06

This is my hand today, 2 days after the last cast was off and the pins taken out. The pinky and the whole palm are still bruised, but the swelling is down immensely. The holes from where the pins were sticking out are healing, but the massive scar tissue under the stitches hurts.

I've had three physical therapy sessions since Wednesday, and am working the hand myself every 2 hours. It hurts and kind of sucks, but it's already way better then wednesday when I couldn't move any of it.

A video from yesterday. This is me making my best fist, and my best straight hand. The middle finger is the one thats healing. The others are just sprained and atrophied from 3 weeks of a cast. My wrist has limited movement still too.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

bad break

I fell while skating on November 20th and knew right away I'd broken a finger because it was pointing in the wrong direction. An arduous night at a Waterbury emergency room ended with doctors pushing it back best they could and telling me I needed surgery. I had snapped my right middle finger at the base and broken a joint in the hand.

Two days later a hand specialist put it back together with a graft and two 4 inch pins. In the three weeks since I've had a series of casts, my hand reformed, stitches and pins removed, the beginning of physical therapy, and a lot of pain killers.

I'm a right handed artist, I'm a fainter with a low squeam tolerance, and I've got a doctor phobia from hell. Everything about this situation is what I would have liked most to avoid.

Yet, even though it's a bad break and rotten in so many ways, so much about it seemed to go so right. From the tough friends who stayed by my side that night, to the orthopedic nurse standing next to Karl when he got the call who immediately began arranging my care, to even the left handed scissors I'd accidentally bought the week before. So much was in place it was as if it was planned.

Painting, sculpting, spinning, skating, puppeteering, and blogging were dropped for the constant tending of my hand, and a lot of sleeping and eating. But things are starting to return a little at a time. I've gotten pretty good at one handed typing, so I'll be keeping a documentary of my recovery from hereon. I'll post pictures of my hand, but I promise nothing grosser then this xray (though I've got some real gag inducers for anyone with a sick curiosity.) The goal is to get my hand back fast and complete, as well as shed my squeamishness enough to look at the first xray of the break, which I still can't do.

So onward goes the blog. Onward goes my strange, amazing life.

But no more goddamn fortune cookies.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Fracture breaks continuity of bone and of important attached soft tissue--including blood vessels, which spill their contents into surrounding tissue.

Even before treatment, the body automatically seeks to repair the injury. Inflammatory cells rush to destroy, dilute or isolate invaders and injured tissue. Tiny new blood vessels called capillaries begin growing into the site. Cells proliferate. The injured person usually must endure pain, swelling, and increased heat at the breakage site for one to three days.

New tissue bonds the fractured bone ends with a soft callus, a mass of connective tissue and exudate (matter escaped through blood vessel walls). Remodeling begins. Within a few months, a hard callus replaces the soft one. Remodeling restores the inner canal.

Once restoration is complete, which may take years, the healed area is brand new, without a scar. Usually thicker, the new bone may even be stronger than the old.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


This woman really does stuff with balloons, among other things.

She writes:

What is the relationship between play and revolution? Creating fissures in reality opens up the possibility for change: change in the everyday/monotonous routine, change in assumptions about 'facts', change in the world in general. The act of "making strange" allows a new perspective for reassessment and critique. Nothing is fixed and anyone can make the environment around them better.

Wow. I love her. Thank you Alvina for finding her!