Nancy Meagher

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Painting ’78

Walking is extremely painful for me. Once, a high-powered Elementary School Art Specialist, I pounded school hallways, arms loaded with reams of splashy paintings made by children. I stapled work onto corridor length bulletin boards, checked my watch, grabbed a waxed carton of chocolate milk from the cafeteria fridge, and took the stairs two or even three at a time and settled into the Art Room.

All this joy came to an abrupt halt one morning, whilst moving sure footed across my day, I twisted my ankle badly and developed a disabling nerve disorder called RSD or today’s newer medical diagnosis, CRPS. I was no longer able to walk or stand without severe pain. Life can turn on an ankle. A rose by any name, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, nerves damaged badly enough, don’t heal.

Pain ensues as nerve fibers react, and alarms go off manifesting as pain. Like a teacher who gently separates the challenging students on either side of the classroom, the nervous system creates a symmetrical pattern throughout the body. Now instead of one foot over heated and over stimulated, both feet are enraged. Up into the hands the pain goes attempting to balance it’s ever teetering boat.

The silver lining to my RSD disability is that I have been swimming each day for the past six years because I need to move, fast. I am and always will be a race horse. I developed and continue to manage a series of large splashy paintings of the Pool. I relish the lane markers, the blue and white flags that hover over the pool signaling to the swimmers that prefer backstroke to take caution that the edge of the pool is near. I revel in the sunlit waters during the day, and I am charmed by the underwater lights which flood the mint-colored water with chartreuse green. Who among us can immerse themselves in their favorite color every day?