Portrait of clasping hands

Healing Hands
Story 144

By Jaquelyn Lugg
Portrait of dog

A lifelong artist, Vivian Patton has a keen appreciation for hands and their power to create. After an injury earlier this year, she now also celebrates their power to heal. In May, Vivian fell in her driveway, breaking her wrist and dislocating several fingers. She ended up needing seventeen stitches.

“My hand was kind of a mess,” Vivian remembers. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to use it as much anymore.”

Though the injury was to her non-dominant hand, it was a serious setback for Vivian, who uses her talent and passion for art to support local causes. Vivian creates portraits of people and pets to raise money for local nonprofits, including Southside Community Connections in Groveland and the Tuolumne County Humane Society. In two years, she’s raised over $14,000 with her art.

To get back to doing what she loved, Vivian was referred to rehabilitation at Adventist Health Sonora, where she worked with Amy Nord, occupational therapist and certified hand therapist, over the course of 14 weeks.

“I'm not a big fan of going to the doctor all the time, but Amy made it so easy,” Vivian shares. “She is just a warm spirit and makes you feel very comfortable.”

Portrait of clasping hands

After dozens of appointments and many hours doing exercises at home, Vivian completed rehab in September. The right way to thank Amy came naturally. At her final appointment, Vivian surprised Amy with a portrait of her healing hands — a tribute to what they had achieved together.

“I use my art as a way of giving back,” Vivian says. “Whenever someone does something kind for me, I do a piece of art for them.”

Though Vivian is happy to have finished her rehab appointments, she says Amy is the caregiver she wants to see if she ever has to return. For now, she’s grateful to be able to use her hands to create beautiful works — her own kind of therapy. “Drawing is my playtime,” she says. “It’s very therapeutic to just let your guard down and relax and enjoy it.”