Injury happens in many forms; of the heart, body or mind. It is rare that one injury doesn’t affect all three. In each case, a pattern emerges that changes our psychological, biological and perceptual landscape ushering in transformation, learning and new perspectives.
My disc herniated and impinged my nerve root. A small fissure that stole my ability to walk, gave me daily pain and new relationship with my husband and children. The once strong, both physically and mentally, was torn and weak. Tears. Despair. Fear. Pain. Retreat. I clung to painting, to ground me and reflect, to create artifacts of injury and healing and to learn and recreate.
What is left after injury?
There is gratitude. I am grateful to be pain-free, for progress, walking, my husband’s care, my daughters gymnastic meets and Pokemon with my son.
There is discovery and re-creation. I have grounded myself, created a new vision, a plan for healing and settled in a new identity.
There is hope. That I emerge stronger, wiser and gifted.
There is acceptance. The world that was is no longer, a new unknown one is beginning.
There is memory. The heart, body and mind will not forget.
About three weeks ago, on October 11, I made a trip to the ER with ear-ringing pain in my leg. For about four weeks, I had been recovering from a herniated disc and moderate sciatica. After getting a new mattress a week and half before, the pain had been getting worse at night until that morning when it knocked me off my feet. I couldn’t handle it any more, I needed help. The sciatica was acute and I could barely walk.
What followed was two weeks of limited and painful mobility, lots of sleepless and angry nights and a slow and constant ingestion of Vicodin. I was invalid, needing help with everything from getting dressed, to eating and walking. And I was haunted by the sense that I was transformed. I wouldn’t ever be the same. But I’m still not clear on how.
So I painted. I sat in bed, when I could, and painted in whatever position my body would allow. I researched painting, I blogged about my painting. I ingested more art than pain meds. And I painted my injury.
Here is my herniated disc:
That red bulge is what is pressing on my nerve root and causing shooting pain all the way to my toes. And yes, beautiful because any life experience is.
This MRI shows the compression even better.
Here is my rendering. Interestingly it is like a mirror showing the prolapse on the right but actually mirroring my body as I paint. And the prolapse is exaggerated…like the pain.
Because pain, after time begins to feel as much psychological as physical. The fear of the pain is as debilitating as the pain itself. Every sensation is amplified.
Of course painting an injury begs the question, what about painting a healed Marika?
A healed body is not the same as a healed Marika. I don’t thinking painting a repaired herniated disc would represent a healed me. The answer made me think but, truthfully, it was obvious. It just wasn’t obvious until I began to emerge from the debilitating pain and detoxed.
I can walk now and tackle my rehab exercises. I can see the future. I have a vision. I love being fit and active and I’m ready to do what it takes to get back to it. Ican’t wait to return to crossfit and rock climb.
Give me my weights back and a pain-free crossfit workout, then I’ll declare myself healed.
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