It has only happened 4, maybe 5 times since my major surgery recoveries and yoga training in '16 that I've gone a week without doing yoga at all. This past week was one, and what a weird, spinning week, full of a big holiday, the flu, and an ER visit for pain management today.
First and foremost, it was Christmas which is lovely with a child. I enjoyed the holiday prelude of December with my son. I loved pointing out Christmas Tree and Santa with enthusiasm and magic to my son who does not speak quite yet, but who knows what each is already. In my family, we have always had a Santa Claus actress in the family arrive to the Christmas Eve party and play the part in great costume and with each of the children. The expression on my son's face was priceless.
I came down with the flu Christmas day. Knocked out in bed for 24 hours without much movement. I've had two months of not sleeping well at all if I wake up (which I always do for my condition) due to medical worries. I've worked though this with Memorial Sloan Kettering, so my worries are much lessened. Today I was thinking as I drove myself to the ER at 4:50am that my veins surely by now have seen their hundredth needle. I said as much to the nurse who stuck me with some quite weird moving around of the vein. Thought I was better at this by now, but I guess it's never jolly. I was also thinking my New Year's wish - so so trivial - would be to get good sticks the rest of my life! I have procedures regularly, and this is why that's a funny but serious wish for me (and impossible). I have been mostly awake (except for dozing off twice to be awoken) since 1:30am today. Hour by hour the pain got worse in the wee hours of the morning, and there I was, sure that here was another ovarian cyst and I was then driving myself to the ER in negative 12 degree weather, the windows cracked for fresh air when I could stand it.
As interesting as my 6th visit to the ER this morning was, the second one this month, I am reflecting more on the image of myself being led around the corridors of the hospital in the stretcher; this is a different layer of reflection than usual. I see this moving image of me as part of me. Maybe because now it's become almost normal and a part of life: 5 cat scans, 4 major surgeries, 8 minor surgeries/scopes in 2 years, barium enema, x-rays, ultrasounds all since March 2016. The wheels of the stretcher bed take you from prep into a procedure via anesthesia. I can see myself this morning as I was being taken for a simple ultrasound (for a lot of pain). I see myself over all this time in a hospital, at peace somehow inside, in the hallway chatting with the escort person - or not, depending on how well I am feeling.
|David Bowie, amazing in The Man Who Fell to Earth|
So, during my flu, I surfed and was very particular about which films I would watch while couch-ridden. I haven't seen a movie in over 6 months (crazy I know), and I almost never watch television. I first watched The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), with David Bowie. Then, the next day: Never Let Me Go (2010), a deeply thoughtful British film, also based on a book. Then, yesterday: Florence Foster Jenkins (2016), with Meryl Streep. I went to bed last night thinking that I had somehow seen my own life in these three films. Surely, other people see themselves in films from time to time too - and what an interesting thing to experience. I started wondering what the underlying current or themes were that connected each of these three films. I realized: Death and Doctors were represented in each film. Was each film representative of a different struggle or learning curve or attitude or journey within my life? In The Man Who Fell to Earth we see: Getting distracted, failure, oppression by doctors. A man looking for water to bring back to his family.... I don't want to give it away, but it is a David Bowie film, i.e. artistic and thus no cookie cutter happy ending, just something like a razor and a mirror to look at life with.
|Scene from Never Let Me Go|
Never Let Me Go, you'd have to see the film one day - I suggest without reading about it first. Trust in it for thoughtful, wonderful rendering of great emotion; this is what you call a good drama. A smooth film to drink down with all the intrigue and existential questions it raises. I don't want to give too much away about the question I identified with, but it is something like, how much can the body give before completion? Without spoiling anything, I hope, I'll say surgery comes into play in the movie, which is refreshing, in a way, to see people having trouble following surgery -- cuz that's reality. I say this as someone who realized there isn't enough representation of medical realities of children, the elderly, middle age, etc in mainstream media. People need more thoughtful representation of realities such as these kind of hardships. People going through things. A bunch of colleagues at UC shared with me that there are great films out there that I didn't know about for representation of disabled when I shared that I thought it would be so cool to have a Disney character who is in a wheelchair. Or what about a Powderpuff in a wheelchair? I realized this lag between disability and mainstream representation as an experience when I was put in recovery for days and days and days with a TV (which remained off). This is not the main question of the film, but it is a question I saw and have been asking myself: how much can be taken from the body? Which is the question I have been forced to ask myself even again - and again recently. I could go on but I've said enough. Point: The movie is brilliant. Thoughtful art is so refreshing and helps us reflect on - and shape - our lives. Find a film that speaks to you about an "alternative" issue you may face. Relish it, share it.
|"They can say I can't sing. But they can't say I didn't sing."|
-- Florence Foster Jenkins
The touching lines came at a moment in the film when Florence's doctor has warned her that too much activity could really cause her harm. Her husband warns her of her upcoming performance's possible effects on her life. She responds that she has been living with death for 50 years (meaning since her diagnosis). She goes on musing about this, which I totally appreciated, and in light of this she has lightness despite it all, says that if she did die from doing this dream of hers (don't want to spoil what the event will be), she would die happy.