The Worst for Aging Artists and Writers

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

I was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. That has not been fun, let me tell you. Surgery, radiation, medication, needles, tests… I haven’t been allowed to drive and I still get dizzy half the time if I stand up too quickly.

Still, I’ve found strategies to thrive.

I have regular visits with my large, nutty dog. I see my boyfriend and I’ve had lovely times with good friends who don’t seem to mind playing chauffer. And, of course, there is my art and my writing. These are a source of emotional solace for me.

Until last week.

My hands decided to stop working.

Not completely, thank God.

I can still feed myself, though I have to be more mindful with soup and chopsticks no longer work for me. I can still wash my own hair. I can still pet the needy cat.

But… I can’t paint anymore. And writing is hard.

I am typing this very slowly, carefully using two fingers. My hands just don’t cooperate anymore.

At first I was freaked out thinking the tumors were eating away at my brain again. Queue your favorite “Plants vs Zombies” reference. I asked my oncologist’s assistant during a checkup. They ran a neurological test.

No tumors, thank God, as far as they could tell, but my MRI results will verify this tomorrow, hopefully.

However, apparently I have arthritis.

I’m not that old! Am I?

I am blaming the cold snap. I hope to have better functionality as springtime approached. I am taking supplements. And pain meds. And doing hand exercises.

My signature looks like crap. I guess I can be a doctor now.

I want to whine, but cancer changes perspectives. I was given 6 months to live 9 months ago. Every day I have is a blessing.

I remember my old dog, Annie. She was shot by some monster and so she dealt with horrible arthritis pain in her back legs. She still loved our walks. She just went slow and careful. I used to give her Cosequin and water therapy. I never really understood her pain though. Now I do.

Knowing she still lived a good life inspires me. I hope to paint again.



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Shefali O'Hara

Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, artist, writer, engineer. Grew up in NYC, living in Austin. Love animals, books, hikes, art, travel, D&D and fireworks.