2009 November Archive | Amber Jean

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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Healing Course

Twenty days have passed since my last entry. Life has been a bit of a jumbled journey with a focus on healing. Since the surgery I’ve often felt inspired to share stories, emotions, and revelations along with odd, humorous, and touching moments. Much is vivid. Alas…I have been more tuckered than I bargained for.
Time has sloshed my world with some rather sticky heavy days these past few weeks along with some super slippery days (and days). My immune system has been working overtime to heal from the trauma of evasive surgery. Two weeks after surgery I attended the funeral of a dear friend. I believe the emotional toll of her heartfelt service and celebration took a whack at my already low post-surgery energy level.  A few days after the funeral some flu-ish symptoms presented themselves; my system struggled to fight a “bug.” Reluctant to allow a full-blown flu to hit my “busy” body,  I relegated myself to bed once again (just when my leg bones were starting to itch from the restless urge to move about). I am used to activity and hardly know who I am without energy.
Last week I felt quite an improvement in my energy level…just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Zaydee in snowA warm-fuzzy friendly fun gathering of friends and children made for a perfect holiday topped with a post feast tiki torch lit sledding course. I am in no condition to sled (yet) but happily lent a hand holding drinks while I cheered and laughed at the top of the hill. Fun!
I overdid it.
Apparently a few days in a row of bustling about is what did me in (and not simply my duty as a drink holder at the sledding hill). Unfortunately it seems I haven’t a clue I’m overdoing it until it is too late. So while I can report that I am healing more each week; the process has been a bit like sledding in the dark with torches for guidance. I’ve had a few relatively smooth runs, some rather bumpy crazy courses, and found myself at times spun about facing uphill while the sled careened out of control downhill. I have even knocked over a torch or two. Between each run I rest, catch my breath, lay on my back and look up at stars,  laugh at myself (or whimper) and trudge back up the hill ‘cuz I am totally on board for the healing ride and imagine the course will smooth out eventually.

Let me explain the tumor…

I haven’t been too specific about the recent surgery and realize many of you are both concerned and curious. Actually it wasn’t fair for me to mention a “football-sized” tumor in my last blog post without being more specific so here’s the deal: My girlie parts were involved along with a few medical terms which are difficult to simply blurt out. We should re-think many of the words science uses to describe procedures don’t you think? Seriously…hysterectomy is just an icky word. Any word ending with “ectomy” never sounds good and the whole “hysteria” part is plain unfair. Then there is “morcellation” and “tumor.” The word tumor is not actually offensive in itself but it does plant fearful creepy thoughts (no pun intended) and morcelation means just what it sounds like – to cut into small pieces (think “morsels”). Double ick.
The tumor was benign; common actually… just a big o’l fibroid. Except the fibroid kept growing inside my uterus for seven years while I tried to eliminate the bugger with a combination of alternative medicine, an “anti-inflammatory-tumor-reducing” diet, and pure stubbornness. I have always been very attached to my womb and believed I would have children; held onto luck and my uterus despite the pain. lithograph2 text I lugged “Fibee” to plenty of mountain tops.  I climbed rock and ice, biked mountain trails and rafted rivers.  I made art.  Initially and for many years the tumor was grapefruit size – my uterus the size of a 3-month pregnancy – hardly enough to slow me down but definitely noticeable in spandex biking shorts. Notch by notch my belt-size increased. Sometimes the tumor did shrink – spiking my faith and deepening my determination to rid myself of the pesky painful bugger holistically.  During the past few years when the tumor grew to the size of a football and my uterus equivalent to a five month pregnancy I increased my efforts. However, the depth and frequency of the pain increased exponentially. Since early spring the pain became constant with varying intensity. Often it struck in cramp waves which could knock the wind out of me while I stopped in my tracks or doubled over. According to girlfriends who have given birth, the pain I described sounded just like labor pains and they were wearing me out.  The hard mass affected my balance and decreased my flexibility. I sought several opinions and researched thoroughly. Once I acknowledged and accepted my inability to conceive or carry a baby everything else fell into place.
I love my surgeon. Dr. Haugen is a small spry spunky gal who looks like she just graduated from high school but talks with passion, experience and intelligence. Her hands expressed their own intelligence when she talked…something I have seen captured in photos and film footage of my own hands (am honestly always rather struck with astonishment when I view my hands on film). I  trusted Dr. Haugen and set a date for surgery.  The surgery involved removing my uterus along with the tumor and cervix. My ovaries were healthy and left intact thus we avoided an unnatural instant early menopause.
The image of Susan Taylor Glasgow’s sewn glass sculpture titled “It’s Always with Me” just happened to cross my path via cyberspace the day after I set a surgery date. I can’t begin to describe how much the image of this piece touched my soul.  The sculpture is a perfect visual rendition of how I felt.  Delicate, tippy, weepy, broken, flawed, and attached.  My soul and heart were drawn to the sewn together parts and the oozing femininity.  The sculpture speaks to me on so many levels…deep and personal.  I have even equated pink roses with both my mother and grandmother; they have occurred in my sculptural works (i.e. Grandma Smells Like Roses”).  The china, the glass, the visceral rope-y parts, the slump, the spill…even the teapot is womb-like…a connection to my health and psyche.
Sewn Glass
Through a cyber-connection, the visual poetry of this sculpture perfectly placed archival pieces and parts in front of me which entered my soul, touched my inner girlie parts, and struck a chord beyond the artist, me, my mother, and my grandmother. 
The journey goes on. I continue to be inspired and plan to explore with art my emotions and revelations. I lost some important girlie parts.  A seriously large hard fibrous blockage has been cleared from the center of my body.  A new chapter has opened, and even this quiet healing time feels ripe with potential.

Soft, slow, gentle…

The morning dawned pale and pretty.


Soft. Slow. Gentle.

I took a few deep breaths from beneath the comfy covers and placed those words on my tongue like three healing lozenges. Soft. Slow. Gentle. One week has passed since my surgery. I am on the road to recovery. Lucky. Healthy. Healing. But once again yesterday I overdid it. Oops! 

Seriously…I AM taking it easy!!!!

Considering the level of activity I’m used to and the level of activity I kept up despite the challenging medical condition, I have been a good patient. Pain would be a helpful indicator for most people but I have an exceptionally high pain tolerance which disqualifies my ability to judge (especially since the pain since surgery hasn’t at any point been any more severe than the pain I’d grown accustomed to before surgery). I have attempted a good impression of a total slug but somehow this “slug” manages to slurp some of that typical Amber “go juice” now and then and light up with a spritely spurt that gets me into a bit of trouble.  Just what does “take it easy” mean anyway? How easy?! I’m learning. Soft. Slow. Gentle. I roll the words around in my mouth- hopefully they will seep and coat my innards with a “molasses movement mantra.” I will keep the image of a slowly unfolding sunrise as reminder of the pace to honor for another week or two or three or…?

Forgive me if this is Amber Darkness 7the first you’ve heard of the surgery. The decision and journey have been very personal. The past months were frightening and emotional yet transformative. Insights land in my lap like autumn leaves picked up gently – the intricate beauty examined appreciatively for detail and inspiration. Insights also get flung in my face like slick sticky mud balls which make me laugh even while I spit and sputter with grit and grime left in between my teeth. Life offers SO much!! Dark places along with bright beaming light. One week ago two skilled surgeons removed a few body parts along with a football-sized tumor.  I am on the road to recovery and discovery.

Image above titled, “Amber Darkness 7” by artist Rocky Hawkins.  The painting was a pre-surgery gift from Rocky and has been near the bed under the vase of sunflowers he and Kat brought by after surgery.  (The painting is part of a series by Rocky – the “amber” part is a coincidence).  I have been so well cared for…and will share more soon!