This week has been hard. I have spent basically the entire week curled up in bed trying to decide which hurt more: my stomach or my head. My head ended up winning. Hurray.
This is particularly frightening, because last time I was on dialysis one of the complications was a bout of Pseudotumor Cerebri. That’s Latin for spinal fluid collecting on the optic nerve, building in pressure and causing shatteringly painful headaches and blindness. I was blind for a couple of months before I had a surgery that relieved the pressure and restored most of my sight (although it is still way too easy to sneak up on me from the left).
This was the fear that kept banging against my skull with every painful throb of my painfully throbbing headache this week. Combined with my OCD, which tends to get far worse when my kidneys stop regulating my hormones, it transformed me into a gibbering basket case.
Now I’m going to say something that may surprise you based on the previous three paragraphs, which strike me as exceedingly whiny. I’m not writing this post to complain. I hate complaining; it makes me feel weak and victimized. In fact, letting the above details get out to anyone besides Kohl riles up every instinct for privacy and self-preservation that genetics and breeding have given me. No, I wrote this post to tell you about something marvelous.
There are two things that brought me back to normalcy. One was Kohl patiently holding me as I gibbered, and telling me over and over that it was probably just high blood pressure rather than a return of the Pseudotumor. (That may not sound comforting, but, believe me, it’s preferable.) The second thing that soothed my jangled nerves was crocheting.
For those of you whose interest in this post just plummeted, let me explain. There is a power in manually creating something. There is a magic in watching something you dreamed of take shape in reality. There is a beauty in letting the textures and colors play over your senses like a warm breath. There is a relief in having something in my life which I can control.
I’m working on a Mohawk hat for a little boy right now, along with a luscious, thick, cream colored afghan to go on our bed. As I worked on them this week, as I let the yarn rub against my fingers and watched my projects come to life row by row, I felt so much peace. In my life right now, inside my own body, there are processes of destruction taking place. This often leaves me feeling broken and bereft. The process of creation that I enact when I crochet balances me. I am powerful and magical and beautiful when I am crocheting.
May I suggest, then, to those of you facing your own personal darknesses, that you find something that fills you up, some part of your world that you can create. I have found it most effective when it is something I have to use my actual hands to do, like cooking or gardening. For you, it may be working on cars, or rebinding books, or painting furniture. It might be building model planes, braiding someone’s hair, or organizing a closet. When you find what it is, use it wisely as an outlet and a refuge, but not as an escape. There is solace in creation, and it is one of the most positive things you can do for yourself.
It really helps with gibbering, too.
Such a great post. Thinking about you.
First, I am so glad to get to read this… I won’t have to hound your mother every 10 or so weeks about every detail of your life. Plus I love to stalk. Plus I love you Chris and I am glad to be reminded to send good vibes out to the universe for you.
Second, do you take crochet orders? If you had something you love to crochet for babies….etc and showed a few photos, I am sure I would love to order something from you. I mean… I would love to buy it from you than a stranger on etsy.
ps… no pressure… just a thought.
Beth, I actually have a site on etsy. It’s under shadowlace (que sorpresa!), but I haven’t put anything up on it yet, even though I’ve had it for about a year. It has been kind of a crazy year, though. I’m hoping that dialysis will give me a lot more time to crochet, so I will hopefully get that page up and running. I also think that I might post some pics here of some of the projects I’ve completed. I’m trying to figure out the best way to do that.
Post them! I am so interested in your mohawk hat.
I love the way you write, and I absolutely agree with you. I think being creative is a way we experience God like joy. It is a blessing and soothes the soul. I would also love to see your projects here. Again, thank you for sharing. I love you and pray for you often.
Chris, I am so sorry for what you are going through right now. I too have found solace with making something with my hands. I have recently taken up embroidery and I love it. I have been interested in crocheting as well. There is just something about seeing something unfold right before your eyes, something that you have created.
Would love to see some of the things you have created:) Hope things turn up for you. Praying for you 🙂
Lovely post Chris. I’ve been thinking of you all week. I’m sorry you have to go through this. Sometime in the next few weeks I want to bring lunch over and we can spend a few quiet hours needleworking. Let me know if/when you’re up to it. If not I completely understand. Take care.
P.S. I love to see all the things you create, too.
Thank you for doing this Chris! I really enjoy reading your thoughts. Thanks for letting us all be a part. We love you!!
I don’t even know what to say. I love your blog already and you’re only two posts in, you have a reader for life. Your strength is inspiring. I completely understand what you mean when you talk about creating something that fills you up, for me it is sewing, some artwork (if it turns out good), but mostly painting furniture. Crocheting is too challenging for me. 🙂