Tag Archives: hysterectomy

Dusting Off the Mental Cobwebs

Last week I finished unpacking my studio and starting working on several new artists’ books. They’re ideas I’ve had floating around during moving and recovery and, finally, I’m ready to get back to work. After months of getting a house ready to sell, moving for the first time in 15 years, and then having a hysterectomy and recovering from that –  I finally feel like I once again have the physical and mental energy I need to dedicate to being an artist.

First, I had to start the week by beating myself up mentally. Why on earth didn’t I write/create/develop ideas while recovering? All I was doing was lying around, right?

Next, I had to forgive myself. Apparently I needed all of the energy I had just to heal. I wish I could have used that time more productively (I don’t think watching 63 episodes of Eureka counts as productive) but for some reason I couldn’t. I tried.

And finally, I’m dusting off the cobwebs (and my tools) and starting anew. I’ve started working on images for one of the new artists’ books. Family and friends are gamely standing against a white while for photos while wondering what on earth I’m going to do with them.

Photoshop is less intuitive right now – I know I used to know how to do all of this. I’ve started taking photographs every day – Oh, how I love to take pictures!  So far mostly of my garden growing and some jam I made this morning.

I’ve hooked up my new printer, a Canon iX6520 (all by myself, no husband-who-is-an-engineer-tech-support!) and I’ve started testing it. My beloved HP that I’ve used to print all of my artists’ books went kaput and I feel like I’m back at square one. Can I use pages I’ve already printed with pages from the new printer? Do I have to start over? Will this printer print on Rives BFK as beautifully as that old printer?

And I’ve started working in my studio. I’ll post photos of the studio later this week. Right now I’ve got the radio cranked up and I’m remembering how to hold a bone folder and being grateful for my health, for being able to find most things where I look on the first try, and for my amazing new workspace.



Lessons From Recovery

Today is  5 weeks post surgery and, as the days progress, so does my recovery. I can actually sit upright for periods of time, drive short distances and wear (almost) normal clothing. Simple pleasures I’d previously taken for granted!

I’d like to thank all of you who have sent lovely email and card greetings. I treasure the hand-stitched ribbon collage sent by Catie O’Leary (photo at the top of this post) and it made me feel wonderful to see your names in my email box. Each message felt like a hug.

I’m not quite making art yet, but I am slowly unpacking my studio, one book, one tool, at a time. I have learned several lessons during the last 5 weeks that I thought I’d share:

Lesson #1 – Inspiration can come from anywhere, even a hysterectomy:

Apparently I wasn’t done grieving, or making art about, infertility. A week after surgery I had a day of melting down and grieving for the reality that those “magic” pregnancies everyone tells you about when you are struggling to have a baby, really won’t happen now. No uterus = no magic pregnancy.  Fortunately in the middle of the sadness there was also artistic inspiration and I am now (mentally) working on two new artists’ books related to infertility. (And the goodies that my mom and dad sent to cheer me up sure helped, too! It was hard to be sad while eating chocolate covered strawberries for breakfast.)

Lesson #2 – Asking others for help is okay: 

It’s funny, but I much prefer to offer to help someone than ask for help. I’m not sure I knew that before my surgery, but I’m very aware of it now. Not being able to lift anything over 5 lbs, push or pull on anything,  or drive made me suddenly dependent on everyone around me. My brother, who spent a morning putting together a bookcase in my studio while I watched, said it best, “I’m not doing this because you did something for me – we do things for each other, that’s just how it is.” 

(A momentary pause for more thank yous: to Nicole and Mrs. B – thank you for the lovely meals, we hated to admit that I can cook again; to Melanie and Wendy, thank you for playing chauffeur and doing “normal” things like going out to lunch and shopping; to my mom and Trish, thank you for the daily chats; to my brother – thank you – you made me feel better every time I saw you. Who knew that the person I wanted to clobber most of my childhood would be one of my favorite people now?; and to my beloved husband, Greg – I don’t even know where to begin. THT.)

Lesson # 3 – It is all a matter of perspective:

Before my surgery I was packing, moving and unpacking for hours at a time. I made art for 12 hour stretches. Now working for 15 minutes and resting for 45 seems like an accomplishment! I’m unpacking my studio one book and one tool at a time and when I unpack 3 boxes in a day I feel like I’ve really made progress. I just hope I can carry this patience and sense of accomplishment back into my art making.

Off to rest and then spend 15 minutes in the studio.