His life changed in an instant and took away the use of his right hand. That hasn't stopped a Knoxville man from making the most of it and starting My Left Hand Art.


(WBIR-Holston Hills) A Knoxville man has learned a truth first hand.

When he lost the use of his right hand he switched to his left and started painting. Emily Stroud and Kevin Umberger

"It changes in the matter of an instant. Your life can change," he said.

For Don Fiolkoski that instant happened November third.

"When I had an aneurysm it's like a stroke but it's not. My vessel exploded in my head and I had a brain bleed. So it's amazing that I'm here I guess," he said. "I had a 5-percent chance of living is what they told my partner so it's a miracle that I'm here."

Before, he was a funeral director. And right handed. Now he wears a splint on his right hand.

"If I let it relax it just clenches up and the therapist doesn't want that to happen. So if I can keep it relaxed it helps," he explained.

He goes to physical therapy twice a week. At home, his therapy is painting. With his left hand.

"It really helps to teach my left hand to work, you know, write and paint. It does me good," he said.

Don thought it out before he jumped into it.

"I chose watercolors because it's easy to clean up," he said. "It is just very therapeutic to paint. I don't know what is going to happen on the paper until the paint brush hits it."

Creating his paintings can take days or minutes.

"Like that traffic light. I did that in about a five minute span," he said. "A lot of people like the dogwood I did and that probably took an hour."

He shows a lot of variety in the note cards he's painted. He's even come up with a name for his creative outlet that may become a mini business: My Left Hand Art. He's even created a Facebook page.

"This is pretty new to me and I have to see what the future holds for me but yes I would like to make a little bit of money with that," he said. "The best outcome is I can go back to funeral directing but I don't know if I'll be able to do that or not."

He's not quite sure of the details but he knows he has a future and that future will be positive.

"I've got to keep a positive attitude or it wouldn't be good," he said. "There must be some reason that God has for me to be here."

Don has started walking again and expects to gain more strength and perhaps return to funeral directing.

"It's just an ongoing process one day at a time."

One painting at a time.

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