Gall bladder and confusion

Confusion by Edmund S, 2013. Pastel on Fabriano paper, 24" X 36"

Confusion by Edmund S, 2013. Pastel on Fabriano paper, 24″ X 36″

My family on my father’s side seems to be made of “rebellious”  thinkers. (Read blogpost titled, “I reduce…”, November, 7th, 2013.) My second uncle arrived to his Bodyscapes session with only one word not the suggested three. He was 45 minutes late and could stay only one hour of the two hour session. As a Bodyscapes facilitator, I observe people orchestrating themselves around their fears of looking deeply into the meanings of our illnesses.  I informed my client we could work on either a poem or a drawing.  “I have shoulder pain for over twenty years, gout and my gall bladder was just removed. That’s a lot to draw in an hour,” he said. But, I assured.   “We can get it in. I am a very good art teacher.” I was not going to let him off the hook. Minutes later, he grimaced while looking at pictures of the inside of his shoulder in a medical atlas.  I understood why he is an attorney not a physician like my other uncle who completed a Bodyscapes session three days prior. (Read blogpost titled, “I reduce…”, November, 7th, 2013.) He selected a picture of the the back view of a torso. He easily copied the outside lines of the figure. He positioned the top of the head nearly coming off the top of the page, each shoulder touching a side of the paper. He continued, drawing his arms coming off the bottom of the page.  He did not know he could draw.  I did not know he could draw. The image filled the paper with a big, solid  presence.  He searched the medical atlas again until he found a picture of the muscles on the back of the shoulder. “That’s where the pain lives. What color is associated with physical pain?” 

 “Look at the pastels,” I offered. “You can ask yourself which color, red, blue or yellow, represents your unique pain.” He grabbed a medium magenta pastel.  He pressed it against the paper on the area of the shoulder and dragged it down, creating a long streak. “My gall bladder is grey.” He smudged an aluminum gray pastel into a square on the middle left side of the drawing. “They took that out, so it does not bother me anymore. Oh, and I have gout in my foot. I have to put that somewhere in the drawing.” He looked through the medical atlas to find a picture of a foot. “Can I draw a big foot right here?” He touched the paper. Then, drew the profile of a  foot in the area of his lower back. It resembled a spinal column.

“The issue is my mind, Diane.” That is just what my other uncle said. (Read blogpost titled, “I reduce…”, November 7th, 2013)  “The word, confusion, pops right up. Can I draw that? It would be blue.” He looked through the box of blue pastels. He tested each shade of blue, cerulean, ultramarine, and light blue on a separate paper. When he had found the exact blue color that matched what it felt inside his mind, he smeared the bright French ultramarine blue pastel on the back of the head. “The trouble is really not inside me but outside me. I am personally not too confused. It’s all that is happening around me. “You could put some colors around the outside of the body,” I suggested.  For the next thirty-five minutes, more than a half hour past the time he said he needed to leave,  he filled the empty space around the figure.”That light red yellow color, that’s the color it is.” He laid down an overall vermillion red color first. Then, added an ochre yellow on top. “The color is not exactly right.” He added celedon green to the red/yellow mixture. “That’s better. The confusion is more green.” 

Suddenly, he looked at his watch and declared, “I have to go.” My mother rushed over to see his drawing. She has known him since she started dating my father. Edmund was just a small kid who they would take along on their dates.”It’s been a hard year,” she said and kissed the top of his head.  “The confusion is outside me.” He told her. “I never thought about it this way. This drawing has helped me think it’s not really me who is confused. It’s the situation. This is going to help me.”

The Red & Orange House relies on support from individual donors to maintain our work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Each gift brings another art-making experience to a patient’s bedside or their family while sitting in the family surgical waiting room. Donor benefits include a weekly subscription to our upcoming newsletter. You can share in the powerful healing moments experienced by program participants and their families. 

The Red & Orange House is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; all gifts are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.

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