Bloody Fear: Dust on the Bench Pin

Today I greeted dust on my bench pin. This is a first.

Never before, in 18 years, has there been dust on my bench pin.

The Bench Pin, the center of the studio universeFor a metalsmith, the bench pin is the center of the studio universe. It’s like the bottom of a skillet for a chef, or the fretboard for a musician.

My bench pin has been covered by many things before, such as metal filings, wax shavings, or polishing compound. But never, ever, just plain dust – the stuff that collects when you don’t use something.

My last post was ten days prior to my first-ever surgery. I had always been fairly healthy, but I was having surgery because of a benign tumor. I expected to be away from the studio for a while, but I didn’t expect to be away this long. Without sharing too much medical detail, after my surgery, I developed a surgical infection. As I was overcoming the infection, I suffered a pulmonary embolism. What that means is that a large blood clot originated in my pelvic vein, traveled through my heart, and lodged in the pulmonary artery feeding my left lung.

When I arrived in the emergency department, the physician congratulated me on arriving alive. I spent a week in a cardiac telemetry unit, and came home still breathless much of the time.

Recovering from pulmonary embolism is a long process. Among other things, my recovery includes a season taking blood-thinning medication. This medication is necessary to protect me from further clotting, yet at the same time it puts me at risk of extensive bleeding in the event of an accident. This means I have been instructed and cautioned extensively. I am banned from contact sports such as hockey or football – ok, no problem there. But, I am also banned from sharp tools. This is the problem.

Metalsmithing always involves some element of risk of injury. My apprentices will tell you that I am a stickler for safety in the studio. Many injuries can be prevented. It’s the ones that can’t be prevented that I’m worried about.

Most metalsmithing injuries are superficial. For me now this means that a small cut that would normally clot and stop bleeding in five minutes will take fifteen minutes to stop. In my years in the studio I have had only a couple of instances of more significant injuries (I’ll spare the details). But there is always the chance.

I have metalhead friends who have offered to do the dangerous parts for me, and what a blessing they are! As I consider ways to work around my limitations, I begin to wonder if it’s the risk of injury or the frustration of limitation that bothers me most. I’m not sure, but I realize I am becoming more comfortable with the awareness that I have so many more questions than answers.

So, I sit and stare at my dusty bench pin. I have little experience with being inhibited by fear, but this is how I find myself today. I sit in my purple chair at my bench for the first time in three months, my callouses long gone, and I wonder what to do.

Will I find my way back?


~ by gingermeekallen on November 3, 2009.

3 Responses to “Bloody Fear: Dust on the Bench Pin”

  1. You will.

    Fear not. God is with you.

    By the way. You are more than the jewelry and art that you make. It does NOT define you. You define it! Just thought you my need to hear that.

  2. Dearest Ginger,

    God will be your protector in every facet of your life whether you are driving, cooking, cleaning, metalsmithing or whatever your heart desires, God will protect you. He has protected you the past 3 months and he will continue to protect you. So you just do what your heart desires. Just look what he has done for you so far. You are brilliant at metalsmithing but just use a little more caution than your “old self” and go a little slower. You will continue to create beautiful pieces for all of us. I especially love mine that you created for Dan to give me two years ago. It is so special to me and even more special that is is A ONE OF A KIND. You inspire all of us!

  3. Ginger! So glad you’re back! Be careful, let your body heal. Take that pin off of your workbench and do some gentle creativity that doesn’t involve the risk. You are very creative with a wild imagination! Put away those sharp tools for awhile and let your juices flow on gentler art, just for a little while!

    p.s. Apparently, prayers were heard! I’m so glad that you are okay. :O)

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