Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Sad Day

I knew this day was coming, friends. The day when I would be inspecting my pendants after they have already been fired and tumbled, and notice to my horror that I did not drill that all important hole for the jump ring.

It happened today. On all 12 pendants I fired last night. 12!

But I fixed it, and I thought I would attempt to share the wisdom I learned today with the next lost soul googling "forgot to drill hole in PMC before firing"

Though not as soft as the clay, silver is quite soft. It does not require much to drill a hole. In fact, the more speed or effort you put into it, the worse off you'll be. I had to purchase a 1.35 mm drill bit (I actually bought two in case one broke). I got it at my neighborhood jewelry supply store, but if you are not blessed with a store like Freshmans I bet you could just buy the smallest bit available at Home Depot. The bit did not fit in my flex shaft, so I also needed a collet pin. If you don't have a flex shaft, a regular drill should work if you can control the speed easily.
First make sure that you make a dent in the silver where you want the hole to be. I just used a regular hammer and nail. The dent will keep the drill bit from sliding all over your piece. When you're all set with the bit in place, start it spinning and run it through a chunk of beeswax to lubricate it. Then stop the motor. It doesn't take much wax, but it will help with the heat problem to be explained further down. Rest the tip in the dent and just barely start the motor. If you go too fast, the silver will get really hot, and de-anodize the steel. Then it won't be able to cut a thing. SLOWLY increase your speed until you see little curls of silver coming out of the hole. Keep it at this speed and hold the hand piece really straight, or you might break the bit. The slower you go, the faster it will drill the hole (and you won't wreck the bit by over-heating the silver). There you have it-- a hole!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We're afraid of losing this quality of care?

Let me say a few things about the standard of health care in America.

I have CRPS (Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, formally called RSD). Granted it is not a well understood disease, but compared to when I was diagnosed 19 years ago to today, general knowledge about CRPS has increased by leaps and bounds. Some doctors even call themselves specialists.

I have seen these specialists. I have been to Johns Hopkins and Stanford- both supposedly offering the highest level of care. But it wasn't until a pesky pain I have been dealing with in my foot for years finally got out of control, that someone took a basic x-ray of my leg. My family doctor told me last night that I have such severe Osteoporosis in my left leg that I could break my foot just by walking around on it. This could have been useful information to have before now. I probably have a stress fracture in my tibia, but I won't know until the MRI tomorrow.

I knew from poking around on the internet that Osteoporosis was a common problem among people with CRPS/RSD, but I figured that if this was really a concern for me, one of the many doctors I have seen would have checked for it. I even had a terrible case of it right after my accident and shattered my ankle in three places because I was trying to keep up with my friends. I have told that story to every doctor I have seen about my leg, but none of them ever checked to see if the Osteoporosis was still a problem.

One dumb x-ray a long time ago could have spared me this pain, hassle, and possible surgery. I guess what I'm saying here is that YOU are in charge of your own health care. Be educated and ask about possible complications. I have always worried about offending my doctors by mentioning research I have found on the internet, but no longer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Deep Thouhts Dripping in Polypropylene

For the last few weeks I have felt like my brain has been coated in plastic. With immense effort I can bend my thoughts through it, but if my efforts wane for even a moment, my thoughts are lost to me, and I end up on a freeway exit somewhere in Taylorsville, instead of my intended destination.

This is how I found myself last week suddenly approaching the entrance of a cemetery in Sandy which was several miles out of my way, and wondering if my car had actually driven there all by itself. I walked the rows with my daughter until we found the marker of my oldest and dearest friend for whom Rosie Alice is named. The stone bearing my friend's name was so much smaller than the one from my memory shaded with so much grief and guilt over time lost for petty reasons. Rosie and I picked the dandelions, made wishes, and cleared the grass clippings away. It was a nice visit, and I left feeling better than before I got there.

By the same turn of events, I was surprised to find myself driving up Big Cottonwood Canyon this evening at almost the same time my mother took the drive three years ago today. On October 2, 2006 my mother purposefully and violently ended her life somewhere in that canyon. For the first two years afterward I was barely able to drive past the mouth of the canyon. But today I felt happy to be there enjoying the colors, even though they were unfairly stunted by an early frost. When I turned around and started to drive Rosie and I back home, I was struck by the contrast of how my mother's body left the canyon that day, compared to my joie de vivre as I drove through the twists.

I feel like my plastic brain has an important message to convey through these unintentional visits: no matter how painful life can feel, with luck it is possible to turn around and return to a place of peace.