The Very Long Version of my Artist Statement: Part 1

It was right around when I went shopping for those art supplies that life reared up in a giant, overwhelming way. The day before my husband’s birthday in 2004, I felt weirdly and intensely sick. But, our three-month-old baby still needed to eat, so I sat down on the couch to nurse him while our toddler and one of his little friends played and watched cartoons. I felt SO sick. 

After my cute baby was done eating, I went to stand up and immediately began falling to my left. I sat back down on the couch and tried to get my bearings. I slowly stood up again but couldn’t not fall to my left. I felt bad in a way that is hard to describe and I was completely freaked out, but I also had three tiny beings in my care. All I could think about was that I needed to make sure the kiddos were safe. 

So, I army crawled my baby to some manner of baby holder (I can’t remember if it was his crib, bouncy seat or what) and then I crawled back to the couch. The toddlers were amazingly, blessedly, content. My head hurt beyond description and I couldn’t exactly function, but I was totally conscious. I started calling friends (my husband was mouthing biking far out of 2004 mobile phone range). After a couple calls, I ended up being taken to the ER by a friend.

The next few hours of my life were noteworthy. The pain was so bad and other worldly that I thought I might die right there in that ER exam room. The part of my brain that landed on this possibility was, shall we say, bummed out.

To start with, I had two tiny kids, one of whom I was keeping alive with my person. In truth, I kept both my kids alive every single day, so the thought that I might not be long for this world was alarming. Between episodes of pain the likes of which I won’t go into here, my brain was churning over the shock of possible death and what that meant. It was intense.

My mom got the news of where and how I was and walked right out of a conference she was at and got on a plane and flew to California. Other family members arrived as well. 

As it turned out, one of my vertebral arteries had spontaneously torn, which triggered a shower of tiny strokes. Dang. Ouch. We were told these strokes were the kind of tiny strokes young healthy people have (?!) and if I didn’t die from the torn artery (chances were good that I wouldn’t) I would likely be 100% fine. They said vertebral artery dissection is a rare thing and most people fully recover with zero long-lasting effects. And yes, some people die from it. Continued in Part 2