dis-ease

January 22, 2014

We are all born with dis-ease. creative medicine

Dis-ease is an illness that weakens our creative immune system. These maladies can include our thoughts of lack and limitation, our insecurities about our body, what may or may not be in our bank accounts, what others may think of us… it’s a long list of ailments that if left untreated, can lead to chronic pain and ultimately leave us creatively paralyzed.

What are the dis-eases affecting you lately? What are the places that you need to treat with your creative medicine? Our bodies have healing properties; we are fortunate that both the treatment and the cure are within us.

Mine is writing.

Others paint, sing, workout their bodies, dance, play a sport, practice yoga or do a combination of treatments. I have found that when I stop writing, when I don’t adhere to my “medication regiment,” I become ill. My symptoms increase both spiritually and physically. I begin to question myself, my body aches for no reason and my overall health weakens me into a state of indifference.

So why is it, that having both the treatment and the cure within us, do we find it so difficult to “take” a dose of what can begin to make us feel better? For me, it’s about an infection that we are susceptible to during a flare-up of the dis-ease. I call it bacterial bullshit. A microorganism that makes us believe that dis-ease is a state we need to live in because after all, we are born with it.

There are so many days I doubt my writing. I believe my medicine is ineffective. But unlike man-made medicines, your body doesn’t become resistant to your dose of creativity. And you can always alter the dosage by adding an adjuvant medication. Give your creative medicine reinforcement.

This natural dis-ease is our inner self in conflict with our outer self; a battle between who we are and who we want to be. If our body has already given us the treatment and cure for it, then we need to give our creative body its medicine. Daily. STAT. Medication adherence is crucial to symptom management.

Write. Sing. Dance. Yoga… you can never overdose on creative medicine. Actually, your overdose spills into those around you and you are able to heal others as well. It’s why people show up to poetry slams, theaters, concerts, museums and other creative spaces.

We are all in need of daily doses of creativity, of those things that remove us from ourselves and move us toward our Self.

If you’re experiencing dis-ease and your symptoms are present, I encourage you to make a promise to write one word today, sing one note today, dance one step today…

Today. Now. The quicker you take the medicine the quicker you will begin to heal.

dig at the wound

February 26, 2013

sometimes the weight of my pen is heavy with fears and uncertainties
the cramping in my hand makes it difficult to write clearly; if at all.
so i scribble a little only to put the pen down because quite honestly, i’m tired.

life is happening.

all its wretched. all its beauty.

why is it that sometimes we turn away from the thing that helps us the most?
i mean, for me writing is healing. why am i not taking my medicine?

it is because sometimes to heal something you must first injure it more. go deeper
into the wounds to really get at it. and that’ just it. that part is the hardest in writing.
putting the pretty poetry aside or the warm reflections off to write through some of the things
i always have a hard time writing about.

my fears. my uncertainties. my elephant in the room. my anger (which i tend to keep in check because
i’ve been told it doesn’t “suit” me).

i haven’t even written it down in the pages i don’t publish for fear they may be discovered.
what can possibly have taken me to that place where i feel i can’t write my story down on a page
that will not be seen?

i will write. my story must be told,
even if it’s just to my self.

i must dig at the wound to really heal. so must you. so must all.

reflection: year five

November 29, 2012

in a week it will be five years since my hysterectomy.

fact: i haven’t healed.

accepted truth: it will be a lifelong process.

renewed hope: i will still be a Mami.

the following is a part of a much longer monologue. i’ve learned that i can “give birth” in so many other ways. i write to heal myself and others who can connect to my story. this is my medicine. here’s to continued healing.

My Uterus used to live here.

Right around here.

The uterus is the major female reproductive organ.  The main function of the uterus is to accept a fertilized ovum which becomes implanted into the endometrium.  The fertilized ovum becomes an embryo, develops into a fetus and gestates until childbirth.

I miss my uterus.

I DO NOT miss my periods… but I do miss my uterus.

You see I had plans for it.  It was going to be the proud womb of two beautiful children.  Who already had names and would one day become artist, activists and writers.  And my womb was going to be a vehicle for change.

My girl was going to be named Sarahí Elis.

My boy, Diego Rafael.

I like strong Latino names.

They were both carried out full-term.  Fairly uncomplicated pregnancies; with the exception of morning sickness the first two months and my enormously huge breasts.  Sarahí Elis was tiny at birth.  She weighed almost 6 lbs.  But she was healthy.  And she slept soundly.  She loved to sleep on my chest.  We would fall asleep on the couch together watching Yankee games on mute.

She would be lulled by the rise and fall of my chest.  And I would sing to her, “Contigo Aprendí, a ver la luz del otro lado de la luna.  Contigo aprendí, que tu presencia no la cambio por ninguna.”  She loved when I sang to her.

Diego was strong on his way out.  The little guy was not so little.  He had a big head.  And he put me through some hours.  And when he came out, he came out roaring.  Screaming and yelling like he was mad at the world.  At home, he would only go to sleep if he was between both of his moms.

They would learn to speak Spanish first.  They would know their history and their herstory.   They would be culturally conscious humans.  My little boy was going to look just like his father (my friend Hamlet had already volunteered to help the cause) AND Diego would have my father’s heart: BIG with unconditional love pouring out of him.  My little girl was going to be JUST like me, in every single possible way.

And I was going to nurture their every minute-lasting dream of being a famous singer in the morning and changing that to a veterinarian by mid-day.

I had already seen their first Christmas.  I hoped Los Reyes were able to get them all the toys on their wish list.  I saw them open Tio David’s gift and say, “What the hell is this?”  I was their first kiss on New Year’s Day, their first hug on Valentines; they loved Easter chocolate bunnies but didn’t care much for egg hunts.  They made the BEST mother’s day cards.  They never forgot our anniversary or our birthdays.

I washed their little clothes in the gentle cycle.  I stood in awe when they grew two shoe sizes in less than 3-months.  I helped them clean their rooms, do their homework and tie their shoe laces.  We went on walks together.  We talked about everything.  We played hide-and-seek every day.

I wondered what our house would look like with their smiling faces hanging from picture frames in our living room and their report cards on the refrigerator with that oddly gigantic magnet they made for us in pre-school.  They loved when I made my famous Dominican chicken.  I saw them in their favorite torn-up sweatshirts and those tired jeans -that on their own could make it all the way home.

I told them to get off the phone ‘cause it was too late.  I told them to call their grandma every day.  I taught them about family; about keeping in touch and never forgetting to call each other.

I talked to Sarahi Elis’ teacher about her chattiness in class.  “She’s just very excited about life,” I would say in her defense.  I never got complaints about Diego; as much noise as he made on the way out, he was pretty quiet growing up.  I attended all of their activities.  Diego was into martial arts and playing the bass and Sarahi Elis was all about softball and writing poetry.

I wondered what their moods would be like… I could see them playing with each other one minute and then fighting the next.  I saw them play with our old dog and get excited about the new puppy.  I saw them with their cousins on vacations.  And listened to their countless stories about eve-ry-thing-they-did.

Diego was going to be strong …but gentle.  I was going to teach him how to be a true gentleman.  And Sarahi Elis, well… she was going to be very much like me. Stubbornness included. That is how life was going to show me what it was like to raise me.

I saw them off to their first day of school and cried with them.  I cried with them when they scraped their knees.  I cried with them when they fell off the monkey bars.  I cried with them when they lost their first tooth …when they lost their first love.

I tucked them in… snugged like little bugs in rugs. They jumped into our bed when it thundered.  We hung dream catchers on their windows to keep the nightmares away and left a night light on to keep “el cuco” out of the closet (yes, he too is gay).

I took them everywhere.  We did museums, amusement parks, beach trips, baseball games and movies.  I flew them to Dominican Republic to meet Papote.  I took them to Puerto Rico to meet abuela.  My mother was crazy about them… especially about Sarahi Elis.  And Diego was my sister’s favorite nephew.  My brothers were going to take them on the weekends to play with their kids (who am I kidding; I’d probably end up with all of them).

I saw them graduate from high school.

I helped them with their college applications and got excited with them when they were accepted to their first choice.  I balled my eyes out every time I brought them to their dorms.  We went to visit them when they studied abroad.

I knew they would grow up to want to save the world.  I saw them graduate college.  I saw them fall in love and surely one of them would make an abuela out of me.

I wanted to see my children grow up to be just like me.  I wanted them to be warriors.

…because only a warrior survives a hysterectomy at the age of 29.

On December 7th, 2007 between the hours of 8am and 3pm, Sarahí and Diego’s crib was removed.

The surgery took about seven hours.

They removed my uterus, my cervix and my ovaries.

Once the gynecologist was done… the urologist came in and reimplanted my ureters which had been damaged… he had to cut my bladder, extend it to the top part of the ureters and reconnect them.

I woke up around 4:30pm.

I remember waking up, moving my hands to touch my stomach.  And I felt the gauze pad covering my entire pelvic area.  And I asked if everything went ok and if I could see my gynecologist (who was also a friend of the family); but she had already left.

And I couldn’t see my family yet… so I was alone with an empty crib, thinking about Sarahí Elis and Diego Rafael and with a million questions for God or anyone who could answer them.

I rubbed my abdomen gently… and I talked to them as if they were there.  And I apologized,

I am sorry.  I am so sorry. 

I am sorry I didn’t have you sooner.  I am sorry I had set a date for your arrival.  I am sorry I was so selfish when I was younger and thought that waiting might have helped me provide a better life for you both.  I am sorry we never had the chance to meet, to play… to laugh.

I am sorry I won’t make it to your karate tournament or your softball game.  Sorry that I couldn’t make your recital, that I had to cancel the trip to DR, that the movie is sold out.  Sorry that your Christmas stockings won’t hang from our fireplace and that I am left with a memory that never took place.

But what I am most sorry for… is that I never got to hold you in my arms.

And still, you weigh so heavy in my heart.

The nurse walked in and saw me crying.  She asked on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 meaning no pain, 10 meaning it’s unbearable) how much pain are you in?  I looked at her and said, “100.”  She looked at me and said, “All you have to do is hit this button.  You can hit it every five minutes and it will give you a dose of morphine.  This will alleviate your pain.

I hit the button… and drifted.  Hoping I would forget everything… hoping this was all a dream.  The pain of not being able to see Sarahí Elis and Diego did not go away with Morphine.  In fact, five years later, time hasn’t healed it either… it is something that will be A PART of me and APART from me, for my lifetime.

And so all I can do now, is give birth to these words…