Recovery Motivated by Fear ... and the Drive to Create Art

They were training me in occupational therapy to bag groceries. And that scared me; that was scary. I thought, "I don't want to bag groceries." Of course, it's obsolete now anyway. So I started when I was in the hospital copying paintings or copying drawings from a book. Which is a rather time-honored way to learn to draw anyway. I just was motivated by fear to get that aspect of my life back. So the hardest part was, at the very beginning I could use either hand, but just barely. I really didn't have much control over it at all. As my recovery progressed in the hospital, it turned out that my right side was more easily trained than my left. So I used to be left-handed, but now I'm right-handed. Prior to the accident, like many artists, I was slightly ambidexterous. I would--if I was painting a painting--on the left side of the painting I would paint with my left hand, and on the right side I'd paint with my right hand. I always wrote with my left hand, and I always drew with pencils in my left hand, but I batted with my right, tennis and golf, all that was my right hand. Historically, I hate to be ignored, and I really am a bit of an overachiever. So it was that part that kicked in, and I did more than--I still always, always do more than I need to.

In occupational therapy post-TBI, artist Ginny Ruffner was taught to bag groceries. That scared her — and motivated her to always do more than she needed to. "I wanted to get back to my art, not bag groceries."

Posted on BrainLine September 19, 2012.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Ashley Gilleland, and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine.