The thought of having my words appear in print started giving me page fright. So, I decided to look at the assignment as a blog post, to be read by only a handful of my most faithful blogging buddies. That got the words flowing all right. Only now, I’m actually going to impose upon you to read the essay. Thanks!
Pins and Needles
Ask any quilter what “pins and needles” mean to her and she’ll reply that they’re indispensable sewing tools. Ask me the same question and I’ll be more likely to describe a peculiar “pins and needles” sensation in my hands and feet. It’s just one of many symptoms such as numbness, weakness, dizziness and fatigue associated with Multiple Sclerosis, a potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system.
When I was diagnosed ten years ago, I became one of at least 300,000 Americans afflicted with MS, more than half of whom are women. Many of us are also quilters, understandably concerned about this unpredictable disease impacting our needle skills. In my case, I’ve lost much of the strength and dexterity needed to quilt, but I’ve never lost my passion to create.
I’ve learned to quilt in new ways, adapting sewing tools and techniques to my changing physical needs. A new sewing machine with loads of stitches has replaced the sewing I’d previously done by hand. My physical therapist introduced me to ergonomic sewing tools and was even able to modify my rotary cutter to make it easier to use. The latest fabrics are conveniently delivered to my door with one catalog or Internet order. But it’s my friends who really keep me quilting, with their willingness to do those things I can no longer do alone. All it takes is a phone call and they’re here to help cut fabric, press blocks, stitch bindings or finish some long neglected project that I just can’t manage myself. These gracious women inspire, encourage and motivate me to keep stitching.
I used to worry that I’d have to give up quilting because of Multiple Sclerosis. Instead, I’ve found that my strong passion to create actually helps me cope with the challenges of MS. Quilting gives me a positive outlook, a sense of purpose and pride, and a connection with other creative women. And that “pins and needles” sensation? I still get it from time to time, only now it’s in anticipation of my next quilt project!