Category Archives: RA

Promoting Etsy Artists-Part 4

Gorgeous beaded earrings

It’s almost spring and I am back again with a new blog! I have not blogged in a while due to health issues, (will detail in a separate blog) but I am back with the story of another wonderful Etsy artist!

I would like to introduce, Cindi from Lakota Charm! She is another disabled artist of Etsy with mad skills and a touching story. Her art is absolutely stunning and I am so happy to have found her! We have developed a great rapport and a budding friendship….you know what they say….birds of a feather DO flock together! I asked her a series of questions about herself, her artwork and her plans for the future. Without further ado…here is Cindi’s story in her own words.

I was in a very bad motorcycle accident in 2008. I have screws holding my shoulder together and I had to have a foot reattached that was ripped off in my accident. Since my accident, I have had numerous problems with my bones and joints. I now suffer from a degenerative bone and disc disease which is extremely painful. I have days where I am unable to walk or get out of bed on my own. Because of this, I am unable to work a regular job as I can not be on my feet for long periods of time and cannot be seated for long periods of time. It is because of this that I decided to start making jewelry as a way to have an income. It is something I enjoy very much.

I enjoy beading and seeing a design come to life. Someone who does Native beading knows the time you put into each piece. You have to love beading to do it because the money you may get from a pair of earrings is very little when you consider the time you put into each one. It truly is a labor of love.

Making and selling my jewelry has changed my life in many ways. It gives you such a sense of pride when someone buys a piece you made because they really love it. It gives someone like me who is fighting a debilitating disease, a sense of worth. When you cannot work and can no longer do some of the things you once did, you can easily fall into depression and you no longer feel like you have any self-worth. Being able to start my own business truly has saved me.

At this point in my work, I am selling my jewelry on Etsy. I have a Facebook page where I introduce many items, and I am in the process of setting up my website. I have also started doing art and craft sales. I hope within the next year to be able to expand and have my pieces for sale in different shops. I would love to be able to someday have my own shop to sell my pieces and to also sell other Native Artists items.

I am inspired by numerous Native artists. There are so many talented Native designers. It seems as though I find someone new all the time. Today I discovered Joy Lynn Parton from Pine Ridge Reservation. She has a store on Etsy called Rez Hoofz & Native Stylez. She has the most amazing painted boots and handbags. They are just beautiful. I encourage everyone to go take a peek.

When I started with Etsy I thought I was never going to sell anything. It took a couple of months to make a sale. But I kept adding items and one day I opened my mail to discover I had made a sale. Since then I have noticed an increase in traffic. More people add my store and my items to their favorites and I make a few sales. I think Etsy is a wonderful place to find beautiful handmade items and to connect with other people who also love making handmade items. I used to put items on Ebay but it has just gotten too pricey. I love Etsy and even with the start of my website and everything else I am planning, I do plan on staying with Etsy and adding more items all the time. I truly love it there.

I am getting married in 2012 and Lakota Charm would never be if it was not for the support of Joe…thank you!
I would also like to thank you, Deborah. I am very honored that you are writing about me. I truly thank you for supporting myself and other Native artists and other disabled individuals who have found a home on Etsy.

Well, there you have it, folks…another sweet, talented individual whom I am so happy to have found on Etsy! Thank you, Cindi for sharing your story with us. I know how hard it can be to talk about our disabilities. But I want others who suffer through disabilities to know that it is NOT the end of being a useful and relevant part of society. Etsy has given so many of us a place to do the things we love to do and help make ends meet as well.

Please visit Cindi’s Etsy shop at

Beautiful beaded necklace
Beautiful necklace and earring set
More gorgeous beaded earrings!

Living With Disabilities

Me and Brandon
We Don't Look Sick

When you are young, you tend to believe that you are indestructible.   Everything is laid out before you…the world is your oyster.  For many, it can turn out that way.  For many others, it certainly does not.

When I was 37…I had a job, a husband, a home, a child, a life.  When I was 38, I lost a lot of that.  In 1996, I started having trouble walking.  My feet hurt me almost constantly.  I went to see my doctor, thinking it was my feet complaining about my weight.  He examined me, asked me a bunch of questions, then sent me home with some anti inflammatory medicine.   A few weeks later, it had gotten worse.  It progressed upwards to my knees.  By that time, I was having trouble getting up in the morning and going to work.  I was in extreme pain every day.  I went back to my doctor and he proceeded to send me to a rheumatologist.   I was asked a series of questions, had a series of blood tests done and was poked and prodded.  The next day, the specialist called me to come back in to his office.  He sat me down and proceeded to tell me I had rheumatoid arthritis, aka RA.  I did not totally understand the ramifications of what he had told me.  I knew it was some sort of joint problem, but I had no idea at all of the directions the disease could take and what it would mean to my life.

In three months, the disease had me bed-ridden.  I had to stop working and go out on long-term disability.  I could hardly walk unassisted.  I required either a wheel chair or canes/walkers.  I was in intense, miserable physical pain every day.  My joints swelled in every part of my body.  My knees got so much fluid on them, they looked like basket balls and had to be drained every so often.  I lost the ability to cook, clean and keep my home.  I lost the ability to have fun with my hobbies.  I lost the ability to play with my son.  I lost the ability to have hope.

Trip after trip to the specialist, medicine after medicine tried…nothing was really working.  Most of the drugs I was put on made me sick and lifeless.  Pain medicine was a necessity.  I feel into a deep depression.  At one point in my treatment…I went into his office and told him point-blank that if he did not help me, if he did not stop the pain…I was going to get a gun and blow my brains out.  Believe me, a deep dark part of me meant that too.  He put me on antidepressants for my depression and morphine patches for the pain.  He continued to switch up my medicines, searching for something that might slow down the progression of this awful disease.

In 2004, my knees were gone.  I was in a wheelchair most of the time.  My poor son was my caregiver most of the time.  He had to help me up and down off the couch and in and out of the car.  He watched me struggle through the pain on a daily basis and had to witness me cry my eyes out from the pain.  I hated that most of all.

It ended up that I had bone on bone in my knees, the cartilage was gone.  I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon by my rheumatologist, who told me I needed a total knee replacement in both knees.   I underwent my first knee replacement in February of 2004 and my second in September of 2004.  It took a lot of rehabilitation and patience on my part, but I was finally able to walk again.  I began to do some of the things I had been unable to do once again.  I had been given a reprieve!

Years later, my hip began to show signs of giving up.  When it was x-rayed by my doctor, I had lost almost all cartilage in it.  So, in 2010 I had my right hip replaced.  I have to say, it was by far, the worst of my surgeries and the longest recuperation time as well.  I experienced very intense pain after the surgery and thought I would never make it…but I did.  In 2011, I am now getting around pretty well again.

One thing that people always say to me is “Wow, you don’t look sick”.  Or “Well, you are getting around pretty good now.  Why don’t you go back to work?”  I have tried.  The nature of RA is that the disease is unpredictable.  You can have a flare up at any time.  They can replace your joints (thank God) and they can load you down with meds that make you feel like crap.  But bottom line is, right now…it’s incurable.  Sure, I am luckier than a lot of people…at least I don’t have cancer.  But the point is, it’s still my disease to deal with.  It still affects my life.  Now, my son is affected even more than he was when he was taking care of me.  He now has his own illness to deal with.

In 2010, I also found out that my son has MS.  In retrospect, he was showing symptoms years before the major attack that put him in the hospital.  He went to the emergency room barely able to walk, due to the fact that he could not feel his legs or feet.  They admitted him after a grueling 24 hour emergency room ordeal.  After blood work, MRI’s and spinal taps…they were finally able to tell us that he indeed has MS.  I can not tell you how devastated I was to find out that my son was afflicted with such an awful autoimmune disease…even worse than my own.  I had heard that autoimmune diseases could run in families…so I prayed he would never get RA.  I had no idea that not only would he develop one, but it would be far worse.

My son is 24 years old.  I blogged about him here under the story “Were You Born That Way”.  He is a wonderful, intelligent, sweet and caring young man.  It seems he just can’t catch a break.  I will be talking to him later on and getting his thoughts and feelings on being diagnosed with this disease.  I will then write another blog entirely about him.  Please check back for more on Brandon and MS.