A Door To The World

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When one has a disability, one can feel very much isolated and alone. For more than 15 years I suffered from very severe migraine headaches, where I was debilitated for most of the time. I could not even commit to volunteer work, let alone handle the responsibilities of a job.

Strange as it may seem, I could handle the light from the computer so long as the pain from my migraine was under control with medication. I joined Renderosity the beginning of 2001 and suddenly realized that there were a lot of other people out there who had interests in common with mine. I was not one for chat rooms. I was always a doer and the migraines made me feel unproductive.

Suddenly I could not only communicate with others, but share with them as well. Soon after, I started to write for Renderosity, and it gave me a wonderful direction. Even though I had been posting my artwork and writing graphic software reviews and tutorials since about 1990 on my own web sites, Renderosity gave me an interaction with so many people.

I wrote for a few years and, then, took a break from writing for a while. I have been back for almost a year writing again for the Renderosity Front Page News team, fortunately with only sporadic migraine headaches, but I will never forget that had it not been for Renderosity, I would have floundered in my isolation.

This past year, my husband and I went to Nashville Tennessee and met part of the Rosity team. It was very exciting to put faces with names and know that these people exist. It was also great to get to know them and know how nice they are. The same is true for other Rosity members. My communications have gone beyond the computer, to the phone all across the United States.

I know there are many other members of this community who possibly, though disabilities, found the computer and, then, Renderosity to be very important entities in their lives. If Renderosity has become important in your life, please share your story with others in the "Opinion" section below.

  • As always, I invite you to visit my personal website: Perpetual Visions



  • The Paula Sander's Report
    is a regular Renderosity Front Page featured column, where Paula
    investigates and comments on graphic software, techniques, and other
    relevant material through her reviews, tutorials, and general articles.

  • November 7, 2005
    Tags: None

    Member Opinions:
    By: starmage on 11/8/05
    Hi Paula
    Sorry to hear about your migraines. Actually I can relate. Although the doctors don't quite know what I have yet I get very severe migraines occasionally. They are usually okay when I sit up or am looking at a computer screen but lying down is a real painful experience. I am also Deaf with a severe vision impairment.

    Best wishes.

    By: Cheers on 11/8/05
    I haven't had a migraine since I was about 17, but I can still relate and comend you on your determination to succeed despite these awfull bouts of pain. They (the doctors) did say I could grow out of them, which I did, but I am now at the age where they could return. Fingers crossed, they haven't, but I do have to to suffer another disability, which can make my profession harder than it should be some times; colour blindness ;)

    Cheers

    By: Paula Sanders on 11/8/05
    Hi Starmage, I'm glad you read this article and thanks for your wishes. I saw by your bio that you are definately a courageous person. I found that having migraine problems forced me to look deeper into myself and as a result helped me with my artwork and writing. It forced me to stay focussed because I was sort of in an insular shell of, in my case, pain.

    By: Paula Sanders on 11/8/05
    I find I want to answer these "opinions" since I feel I know some of you through different forums. I knew I recognized your name, Cheers, from the Vue forum and from many of your posts especially when you backed me up in the discussion of monitor brightness. This illustrates for me part of the importance of the Rosity community and how our interactions can touch others.

    I cant't remember whether it was Goya or another artist who had astigmantism so badly that his figures were distorted. However, that added to his art!

    Thanks to all of you who participate and give of yourselves.

    By: Jaguarcat on 11/10/05
    Im glad to see Im not the only one who has turned to the computer when pain isolated me. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and migraines, one seems to aggravate the other at times. My artwork has gone from pencil drawings to the computer because it is easier to work the tablet or mouse at times, and I have the colors set so they do not make my head worse. Anyhow, I commend all of the artists here as thier art inspires my own at times, thank you.

    By: mumbocat on 11/10/05
    I appluad you for hanging in there. It takes a great amout of courage to face these things head on. Since I started treatment for MDD ( often times the source of migraines and fibromyalgia) my creative self has florished. Those who find themselves relieved while in front of the computer screen, may be treating themselves for something they don't even realize they are affected by, SAD. Seasonal Affect Disorder. My computer and Renderosity has provided me with many hours of solice in the times of pain and darkness.

    By: LillianH on 11/10/05
    Thank you for sharing your personal story Paula.

    You have been so wonderful to work with and such a dear friend. We were thrilled to have met you, your husband and your adorable dog, too!

    Your tutorials and reviews have helped me learn and to expand my awareness of different products. Thank you so much for all that you do!

    Happy Birthday and I love your new hair style :-)

    Best wishes,
    Lillian

    By: nickcharles on 11/10/05
    Happy Birthday Paula!!!
    Thanks for sharing your story. I had migraines as a kid, now just deal with sinus headaches. It's wonderful all that you have done, and continue to do here. I really enjoy and have learned much from your articles. Also recently found you did some sculpting. Your doll sculptures on your site are amazing! Been meaning to ask if you had any tips in that area (I recently found I'm decent with clay):D

    By: Paula Sanders on 11/11/05
    Since I last commented, more of you have shared your stories. I am so glad and just want to thank you again. I believe every story is an inspiration and that is really important.

    By: ClintH on 11/11/05
    Hi Paula, Nice article. It was wonderful to meet you in person as well. :) Happy Birth Day! I also have migraines. They cant find anything physicaly wrong with me. I'm in perfect working order the doctors say except I get this really nasty pain in my head about 4-5 times each month and it can last for 1-4 days. I take a drug called Maxalt. Works wonders to make the pain go away. It seems that my migraines are triggered by the nasty food adative MSG. Its hard to stay away from MSG since it is in so many foods. But it seems that if I watch what I eat and dont ingest any MSG I dont get as many migraines. I've been with R'Osity for a little over 6 years now and it has been the best thing for me. I truely love the community, my coworkers and my job as E-Commerce/MarketPlace Manager. Thanks for the fantastic articles you have been providing!

    By: micsteel on 11/11/05
    I've had migraines most of my life. I can remember discovering that what other people called "headaches" never hurt bad enough to make you pass out, or throw up, or go blind... I felt then that I had justification for not being the ball player or "sportsman" that my Dad had hoped for. Still, I don't let it stop me: I've checked for non-drug solutions, and tried to find the causes, and gotten on with my life!

    For me, the worst cause is chemicals, beginning with cigarette smoke and running the gamut through perfumes, soaps, detergents, cleaning chemicals, fabric treatments, food additives, and on and on. Next is sunlight: I can handle about twenty minutes of evening daylight without getting a migraine--more if I wear sunglasses. I usually wear the safety glasses that hardware stores sell for oxy-acetylene welding. Then there are allergies, particularly to animals. I love animals, and live with four dogs, seven cats, and five parakeets--but I've got to keep clean, keep my hands away from my face, and vacuum regularly!

    Doctors, as a rule, are ignorant. Pardon me, but it's a proveable fact: Medical care is the eighth leading killer in the U.S. You can find specialists with a long search, but the best bet is to know yourself. After all, it's you!

    By: regaltwo on 11/12/05
    After a car accident a few years ago, I spent a lot of time and money on my back pain before I finally realized I just had to learn to live with it. Strangely enough, that's when I got into computers and 3d, since it was a hobby/activity I could do sitting down. BTW, in my opinion, pain was one evolution's worst ideas. If some part of me is damaged, and I can't do anything about it, what the hell's the point of sending me constant messages through my nerve endings?

    By: deemarie on 11/13/05
    During my years of working with the artists of the Renderosity community [as a member, moderator, magazine manager, and administrator], I have encountered many artists that share Paula’s experience of being drawn into the world of computer graphics due to chronic pain.

    The computer has been a creative outlet for me. Due to tests resulting from a mountain bike accident, it was discovered that I have a degenerative bone disease, which leaves me in pain 24/7. The good days are tolerable, that bad ones … well, are very bad.

    From the beginning, I have found that working on the computer, especially working with computer graphics, is a wonderful way to control pain. Mind you, the pain is always there, but working on an artistic project, or getting deep into writing [as strange as it seems] allows me to wander “outside” my body.

    Another advantage of working online is that I can once again do things virtually, that I can no longer do physically. Everyday things that I loved to do; run, ride horses, dance, fence — or the obscure; travel back to medieval times, or visit unknown planets. All the while taking a vacation from pain via the wonderful world of computer graphics.

    Most important, are the creative artists who share this community, who share their stores, and share their talent and kindness. I know I speak for many … without the Renderosity community life would truly be a lonely and painful place. Thank you all for your friendship and for an outlet that allows many a creative soul to soar.

    By: CrimsonVelvet on 11/14/05
    I enjoyed reading your story, I have been diagnosed with hepC, stage 2 liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lymes disease, all in the past 6 months. I am an artist, always a work in progress, and part of my symptoms were the sudden inability to create, which comes and goes, and the inability to sleep at normal times, which makes it difficult when raising twin teens, and overwhelming overall. I am currently learning all I can about 3d, the programs, etc, and I read the forums and try to glean all the info I can from there as well, I intend to change to digital art cuz I know I shall be sicker and I figure I better do it now, while I can still function ok. Your story was inspiring, as was all the others, and some day I hope to share my art with all of you. This new worl(new to me anyways) is giving me a focus during a very dificult time, it is a blessing. Thank you all.

    By: LadyEmmy on 11/14/05
    I read your story and recognized a lot in it. 10 years ago I had an accident which ruined my back.
    Migraine's were normal to me that time. I couldn't work anymore and was isolated at home. Just 3 years ago I had another accident, hamstrings torn and cruciate ligament also the two parts of my leg were apart.....I was forced to lie down for 3 months. I 'lost' everyone in my life, got seperated from my husband and moved to another city with my 11 year old daughter. I was realy isolated then. Suddenly there was PaintShopPro and just half a year ago I started with Poser. I'm sitting/hanging behind my PC almost all the time. Just trying to make some nice pictures to show to you all. I'm so happy when I receive a comment.......it makes my day. It realy makes my day people......I love Renderosity and the people in it.......
    Excuse me for some mistakes in my language, I'm just a Dutch woman.....
    Greetings and keep up this good work......Thank you all so much.......Emmy

    By: ariannah on 11/14/05
    As a fellow sufferer of migraines as well as rheumatoid arthritis, I can definitely relate to your story, Paula. The outlet my computer & 3D applications offer me through creative therapy helps me keep my chin up and remain positive. Oh sure there are really down days when I cover the gamut in emotions from frustration to downright anger, but when I see an image suddenly coming together, it somehow makes me see the positives in life.

    Even more so then the actual creating, is the wonderful support and friendships I have found through 3D. It does help knowing others are struggling as well (I don't feel so alone), but I wish I had a magic wand to make all our pain disappear. Keep rendering and creating, Paula. We would all suffer a loss without all that you and everyone else here shares. For that gift, I thank you all.

    By: Paula Sanders on 11/14/05
    I am so overwhelmed by everyone's sharing and stories that I lknow I keep commenting, but it is how I feel.

    By: Tatstew on 11/14/05
    I know there are many other members of this community who possibly, though disabilities, found the computer and, then, Renderosity to be very important entities in their lives.

    As someone who has suffered from panic and anxiety for almost 6 years now I related to your story, though in a different way. I have gone up and down, from being unable to leave the front doorstep to traveling to Disney World while heavily medicated. Mostly I have been told the doctors do not know what causes my attacks. There is no medication that has worked without making the attacks worse nor any medical reason we can find for my having them. I have to battle on my own with lots of therapy, when medical insurance allows. But the computer has opened up a whole new world for me. And though I never let it keep me from trying to get out and do what I can, when things are bad It keeps me from feeling completly lost.

    Take care. And thanks for sharing this.

    By: Deecey on 11/14/05
    I learned nearly 15 years ago that I was about 1/16" away from being paralyzed from the neck down, because of cervical degeneration. Fortunately, surgery fixed the immediate danger, but I haven't had a day without pain since. I, too, immersed myself in the world of computer graphics, and also in writing.

    You can't keep a good person down, and Paula is a good example of that. It has never ceased to amaze me how many of us here have learned to gain inspiration, and peace, through art and through sharing.

    Deecey (the "other" dee marie! ROFL)

    By: 7/8'sIrish on 11/15/05
    Hi Paula,
    I thank you for sharing, I have suffered severe clinical depression with episodes of "phyco motor retardation" (where you can't walk,talk, or speak properly) 5 times I have tried to take my life, 10 times I have been in hospital with it. I have halucinated and heard voices. But I have grown to apprecate keeping active and creating models has been a real help in helping me have much better health this year. I have kept out of hospital all year and have never felt so good. I still go to get un well but I pray to God and keep trying to keep myself distracted by doing something and I get through it.

    Take care
    Patrick (7/8'sIrish)

    By: SNAKEY on 11/16/05
    I read above stories and relate with it. Disability makes you bound, captivated to your home or bed. You are suddenly cut off from the world. Initially, friends and relatives visit you but slowly they all disappear. I found Computer, Graphics, Internet a great help here. I had a heart attack at the age of 33 and then underwent a bypass surgery. Suddenly from a hecticlife I was bound, enslaved to a bed . It was a typical depression period. It was then that I got my first PC. Being a good typist, I was able to sneak my way into chat rooms. I wanted to explore the world on net only to realize that I was an alien from a different planet. My part of the globe was cut off from the rest of the world. As an Indian it wasn't easy for me to interact with the chat room crowd...there was the language problem. Communication was a barrier but slowly I got over it . There is only enough that one can chat about. The smiley, my first inspiration for Graphics drew my interest towardsGraphic Programs. From Graphics, animation & 3d and finally landed with a camera in my hand. By now I was suffering from a severe spinal problem and the situation became so bad that I could stand, lie down but I couldn’t sit. I remember the time when I had my PC set up on a high rack so that I could do my Graphic work etc. Finally I underwent spinal surgery. On discharge I was told I could not sit for long hours. It was really tragic. I felt like someone was testing my endurance and this feeling somehow helped me tighten my belt I spent 6 months standing and doing my Bryce work. Friends at RR were my main encouragement and inspiration. I kept on and slowly life came back to normal again. As of now I feel that it was all my disabilities that drew out the best in me. I wouldn’t have explored the world of art and graphics but for my disability at that point of time. Today, I consider that it sure was a blessing in disguise. Cheers!!

    By: Naeva on 11/16/05
    Though I too suffered from migranes for most of my life, I've also been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Multiple Sclerosis. Strangely enough, since I switched my last medication, for about six monthes, I haven't had my weekly migranes. Its a wonderful medication called topomax, but, because its actually for epilepsy, and only off prescribed to those with MS to help with pain.. I don't know if it can help any of those who don't have the other.

    As far as being an artist, I too enjoy it, though I admit, my art is more private. I don't have a gallery, I guess its still too hard to sit still long enough to make a picture that I feel is good enough to post. I think that will change, I'm very optimistic. (Either I'll feel better, I mean, hey, I'm typing today, so its already a great day! Or, perhaps, it will become even easier to use some of our programs.)

    I don't like to consider myself disabled. I don't think I am. There are still plenty of things that I can do, and if I can't do one on a certain day, well, I'll just do another.

    I hope you all can keep your spirits up, and keep making the art. I love so much to look around the gallery at what everyone is doing!

    By: keyze on 11/16/05
    I also have a disability, when I type in public my hands shake like Parkensons. I am really lucky, my problem is not terminal like Parkensons. It is a family related problem. My Grandmather and my son have the same problem and it gets worse with age.

    I know that it must take me a lot longer than most because some can post many images a day.

    Hope your headaches disapear and my shakes go with it.

    By: firebolt on 11/18/05
    It's interesting to see how many people with severe health problems are here. I was born with a strong visual impairment and due to accumulating side effects it is growing worse now. The times I can spend on the computer are more and more reduced (some days none at all) and things grow harder to handle especially in graphics programs. I really hope I'll be able to continue my graphics stuff for still a long time because this is the first hobby for me that makes me happy already by doing it, not only by the results I achieve. Would be hard to lose these possibilities completely...
    As it is difficult for me to go outside without putting myself at risk, I enjoy the internet and especially forums as a way of sharing thoughts and ideas.
    Thanks everyone for sharing your stories. Puts some perspective to my own difficulties that tend to present themselves oversized at times. :-)

    By: Hiawatha on 11/18/05
    I can empathise with Paula as my disabilities were brought about NOT by migraine but by a stroke which followed on from a brain tumour. After a lifetime of working with multi handicapped children and adults ( as a consultant Audiologist)"thinking I can walk on water" my stroke brought me down with a bump re-inforcing the fact that 'life isn't fair' and the sooner you come to terms with whatever has happened to you the sooner you can start to live again!...My saviour was ART which I took up as stroke therapy 3 years ago and...I have not looked back. Using the computer screen as a canvas...the mouse or pad as a brush...and software as my inks and paints I am able to create and bring to life my innermost thoughts
    and dreams visually for the satisfaction of myself and others. I hope that as a new member of "Renderosity" I can share my feelings and work for everyone to enjoy (or hate !) as the case may be.I was very happy to read Paula's story which she has kindly shared with all of us.God Bless You...Monty (if you want to know more about 'how I overcame' please email me at...ytnom@tiscali.co.uk)

    By: louieiv on 11/18/05
    My thoughts go to everyone with the added life burden of illness and injury....life is hard enough. I suffered a injury to my lower back root nerves and my genitofemoral nerve in 1997 when two oxygen tanks, about 150lbs each, fell off my medical truck on me. I use to be a portrait oil painter, but I am no longer able to sit or stand that long at all and have to use a cane. That is when I traded in my easel, cotton canvas and oil tubes for a computer, Wacom tablet, and pen. My computer is set up so I can use it while lying down. Over the years Rederosity has given me countless hours of comfort. Thanks to Paula for giving us this opportunity to tell our little stories. Everyone keep your hope.

    By: judee3d on 11/20/05
    Actually, I'm not surprised to see many chronic pain sufferers in such a community. I often describe my Computer Artwork as being better than a pain pill.

    My little story is that I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia - but as it got worse, and my arms became weaker and weaker it was discovered that I have a progressive muscular degeneration in my upper thoracic, and neck and shoulder joints - due to radiation treatments I had as a child. The treatments saved my life, so I refuse to complain about it - but the current result is continual pain, and increasing difficulty with any kind of movement or activity that relies on upper body strength.

    Meanwhile I pass most of my day in a comfortable tallback reclining chair, a special pillow behind my neck, my cordless keyboard and mouse close by. I have found that while typing for long periods can start to wear on me, and my fingers often get very fumbly, I can still use the mouse, etc, in Poser and Daz. What a godsend Digital Art has become for me!

    I find that when I am absorbed in a project, pain takes a back seat in my awareness. It's not exactly that the pain goes away, it's that my mind is so focused on my art that I don't attend to the pain - it literally gets smothered, covered up by my focus being elsewhere.

    I think that may be true for many of us. Pain is something that in any circumstances does its best to be noticed. But the mind is a worthy adversary, and having a passion for art or anything else can truly take us away from our pain.

    Thank you Paula for your inspiring words - and thanks to all others who have shared their thoughts and stories in here. I don't often talk about this side of my life - but it is interesting to see how many of us do rely on Cumputer graphics and friendships to help us through our struggles.


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