Fat

I’ve been concerned about gaining weight since I started using a wheelchair more.  I’ve never been thin, and I’m usually happy with the body I have,  but I get worried about my looks and then obsess on what I consider my flaws.  I never judge others so harshly and I really like diversity in body shape and personality.

But like many, I also have this illusion of what I should look like.  That I should fit in those “healthy weight” ranges that doctors recommend.  I exercise some and I try to use my manual chair when I can, but the nature of my handicap is that I get tired very easily.  I also really like to eat.  Good food is one of the true pleasures of life.

So I think I’ll continue to struggle with it, with body image.  Does this wheelchair make me look fat?

I visited my 102 year old friend, who is in a wheelchair that tilts back a bit, so her belly pokes out more than she’d like.  “I hate that it makes me look so big,” she once said when she was having her picture taken.  I thought, how can it be this lovely woman can reach 102 and still be worried about that?

A few days ago, a friend of my brought me a fat laughing Buddha.  It’s a white ceramic statue.

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Since I’ve had it, I’ve had such a better attitude about my body, my life, my luck.  I’m lucky to have friends who give me a better perspective than I could ever attain on my own.

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He’s in my studio/bedroom so I see him first thing in the morning.  I once I heard a story, I can’t find any evidence of it anywhere, but I liked it.  After a life of austerity and fasting and working towards enlightenment, when the Buddha got older, he got happy and began to enjoy all the bounty of life.  That’s why there is the austere Buddha and this one.  It’s not true, but I like it anyway.

 

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So, this wheelchair, this body, makes me look like I’m enjoying life, getting out there, trying to get as much light as possible into my heart.

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can now follow me on facebook here,  Instagram@joymurrayart.

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

 

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Botox for Muscle Spasms

Two weeks ago, I was given Botox shots in my lower legs to help stop muscle spasms, cramps and relax the over-tonation of my calves that result from my Hereditary Spastic Paraparalysis.  I got about 100 shots — just kidding, it was more like a dozen.   I have been worried about loss of sensation in my body, but boy, I felt those shots!

I love my neurologist, who is kind and patient and always gives me lots of information.  He doesn’t mind that I ask the same questions over and over, or that I go off meds then back on, then off again.  He has that rare quality of letting me have some say so, and some mood swings, in my treatment.  He figures a degenerative disease is a hard thing to deal with.  I know he sees patients who have a lot worse symptoms than I do, but he knows my struggles are difficult, too, and honors that.

When I leave, he always clasps my hands and bows, thanks me, and tells me to go live my life fully.  (He’s not from the U.S.)

Yesterday, I had my check up and we’re pleased with slight relaxation of my calves and that the night time cramps have been reduced (though my feet still twitch).  I’ll get shots every 3 months, and hopefully things will continue to improve.  Not to the point of actually walking, but a bit of the damage in my legs will be alleviated and I’ll be more comfortable.

Since my doctor is the kind of of person who spends quality time with his patients, he’s often late for our appointment.  I can hear him in the next examination room assuring or laughing with a patient.

I usually read, but yesterday I drew in my little notebook from the posters on the walls.

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From a Parkinson’s Disease poster.  You can see the ghosts of previous sketches and writing in the scan–it’s very thin paper.  It’s a very thin page between who we were and what we’ve become.
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From a poster on migraine symptoms, the brain so complex, so efficient, but so vulnerable to dysfunction, so much can go wrong.

Life is so complicated and precious.  I think of how I’d not get any treatment at all if I didn’t have Medicare and Medicaid, so I’m so grateful for that.  The shots are going to cost thousands of dollars as time goes by.

Decades ago, I heard a doctor speak of the cruelty of numbers, how we try to budget the quality of life, and it is something that can’t be contained within the small world of economics.  It’s a thought that’s remained with me throughout my life.

Life doesn’t fit in a budget. Health, in all it’s manifestations, is priceless and precious.  I have a handicap that has reduced my ability to move, but very expensive treatments cause small improvements, relieve pain, and opens the boundaries that biology has randomly built around me.  I take part in the community, I cultivate beauty and delight for those around me.  I serve as an example of what health looks like, even when compromised, I am a healthy person.  Handicaps and illness are a part of life.

I hope we can all keep working to make sure healthcare is available for everyone.  We are all going to get sick, have accidents.  Upheavals in our health are lurking inside us.  Let’s keep working to understand this, honor this, and make sure everyone benefits from the medicine and care that is available.  Let us mind how we go.

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He gave me a rainbow

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can now follow me on facebook here,  Instagram@joymurrayart.

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

Drawing Myself

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August 29, Joy Murray

People often ask what’s wrong with me, or more rudely, “What happened to you?!?”  I try to give as short of an answer as possible because my story is complex and I know most people don’t want to hear all that.  “I have a degenerative disorder,” is my standard answer.

But terms and words jangle around people, and I caught myself wondering about these things, how to describe myself and others with dignity — you know short of just calling them by their name.  I usually don’t ask about a person’s physical make-up, unless I see someone in a cast or with stitches that weren’t there before.  And I know them and care for them.

Anyway, I had to go three places yesterday where using a wheelchair wasn’t an option.  I wonder sometimes when I’m in a wheelchair permanently, how I’ll get places.  I’m working on it, checking out medical transport and the Memphis PLUS bus.  But for now, I can still hobble a bit.  So sometimes I do — but only when others are with me, in case I fall and can’t get back up.

When I got settled and rested, I drew myself with a handy cap.

It cheered me considerably.

~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

What the Ocean Provides

My husband Jim and I got to drive from Portland, Oregon, where we live, to the sea side town of Seaside. I took my trusty journal along.  Not only do I like writing and sketching by the ocean (and everywhere else), but it helps me cope with the fact that my mobility is so much more limited than it used to be.  I’ve had problems walking since I was sixteen, but since I turned fifty, 3 years ago, my joints and balance have deteriorated a bit more. 

Three years ago I felt pretty safe just using my cane at the shore, but now I need a walker to keep from falling.  My friend photographer Clyde Jones took this about four years ago.  I was getting along pretty well with my quad cane. 

Jim now brings camp chairs and we do tandem journaling and breathe the sea air.  I forgot my camera, so I did a lot of quick sketching.  When I sketched, I kept thinking of those nice polished visual journals that get posted on line.  I despair that my drawing will never be that good.  I like drawing birds and people and things that tend to move quickly, so I’m scribbling and trying to keep up.  But even when I draw a rock, some days, the drawing isn’t so great.

But that’s not why I keep my journal.  Even with bad drawing, it’s good memory.  And it keeps me from dwelling on the past.  If you want to live in the present, sketching is a very helpful tool.  The inner chatter stops.  If you do it long enough, even the inner critic (sometimes known as the itty bitty sh**ty committee) goes quiet.

At our first stop for sitting on the beach, a man and woman were building a cross.  The woman held pieces of drift wood together while the man tried to cut rope with a rock.  Jim was alarmed that she was leaning over to hold up the heavy wood and might throw her back out, so he offered the man his knife.  The man refused and said he only built crosses with things that God provided.  The woman said, “Maybe God provided him with the knife,” but the man kept working the rope on a the rock.  He had on designer looking sunglasses, a nice watch and a leather fanny pack.  “The Lord doesn’t usually provide such large pieces of rope.  I’ve built lots of these crosses and I always only use what we the Lord provides.”

So Jim sat back down next to me.  Eventually the woman let go of the driftwood til the man got t he rope sorted out.  He was singing praise songs.  And when he finished, he took a picture of the cross with a digital camera.

I drew it quickly and terribly, but the story is set in my mind and I captured details I wouldn’t have otherwise.  I also totally forgot about not being able to frolic at the water’s edge.  

Has your journal ever elevated your mood and helped you see the humor in humans?

Here’s some pages from yesterday — on thin sketchbook paper and painted later with cheap pan watercolors.  Not so very artful, but a delight to me nontheless.  And now I have a little bit of the ocean to carry with me all month.

 Thanks for looking.