My Artist's Struggle

As Christmas approaches there is a certain tingle in the air of corporate tension winding down.

Time passes slowly when we are children – a school term can feel like an entire year . This year my artist has learnt that time can pass even more slowly when one is held back from their dreams by forces, internal or external, that are beyond their control.

The struggle began on a sunny November day during the illustrious Melbourne Cup that saw my artist take her first trip to the races. I helped her dress that day, she was carefree and skipping in a red dress with a bow. He hair was curled and pinned loosely and make up delicately applied. Her shoes were the final extravagance- high on a wedge heel with straps across her toes and clasps around her ankles.

Derby Day 2006 was one of the busiest days Flemington has ever seen. The sun blasted the grounds as grandiose revellers pressed against one another, trying to find their way to the bar or the toilets. Not wishing to queue twice, my artist left the bar with a bottle of champagne in each hand, a smile and the intention of enjoying the afternoon.

The sun made a pact with the grapes many moons ago to try and preserve the grape’s longevity once man had discovered the glorious results of fermentation. Thus an alcoholic beverage consumed in the fire of the day’s zenith will pound the drinker with such force that they will be rendered nauseas and delirious with resolutions to never again enjoy the bubbly goodness of their poison. My artist, sadly, was to fall victim to the ruse of the sun and the grapes in such a way as to change her life completely.

The afternoon began with laughter and punting that would happily bring my artist decent winnings when a kiwi horse with an outside chance galloped his way into second place. As the drinking continued and clarity dissipated, navigating the labyrinth of the crowd would become the most difficult mission facing my artist and her drunken pals. With toilet trips taking over an hour, the group was quickly separated and hoping for a reunion at the grounds was to spit in the face of realism. I found her wandering with a single companion late in the afternoon after having left to explore the off limits stables – the song of an imaginaiad can sooth a horse like no whisper ever has.

Somehow, the stumbling pair found their way back to their base at a nearby friend’s house. One shoe off and one shoe on and two shoes on and two shoes off and rinse, repeat and double the strength…..this is how my artist travelled as the pain in her ankle confused and dismayed her. Luckily a pair of backup thongs waited at the house and my artist could at least go home limping on little rubber cushions.

After two weeks her ankle was better and her life returned to normal. It wasn’t until the week before Christmas that everything collapsed. Standing whilst visiting her parents, my artist stepped and a lightning bolt shot through the base of her foot and up through her ankle. Another step and there it was again. Confused, my artist did not raise her concern until the pain had not subsided several days later. A trip to the doctor saw her heading off for x-rays and ultrasounds that would show the illusion of a torn ligament and begin a treatment process that would, in fact, hinder and prolong a correct diagnosis.

After a month in a cam walker (an inflatable, removable cast) a surgeon re-examined the wreckage and declared the ankle structure sound and the pain a fabrication. An order to walk out of his office without crutches left my artist sobbing in frustration – she knew….I knew, the pain was as real as the nose on her face. She bounced around doctors after this, specialists scanned her scans but could not find the source of her ail. Finally she landed in a physiotherapist’s office who packed her off to one of the most respected doctors in Melbourne. Upon examination, her paining foot presented as cold, several degrees colder than her other foot despite it’s bandaged protection. This symptom sang a tune loud and clear to the doctor and pulling a medical book from the shelf he began to explain that he believed she had Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). This nervous condition involves her nerves sending over exaggerated and phantom pain signals to her brain, her brain gets confused and believes her foot is badly injured and so sends help in the form of swelling, bruising, numbness and pretty much any sort of injury symptom you can think of. The clincher….no one really knows how to fix it.

The past year has been filled with medication trials, crutches and hopeful physio. The condition is mild in comparison to how it could be, something that raises the chances of a full recovery if things go well. Without an answer or end currently in sight, my artist has fought through this year blindly hoping that the next day will bring something better. I sing her through the tough times and do my best to keep her colours churning as she desperately clings to her dreams, afraid they will get lost amidst the madness of constant pain and fragility.

And so 2007 has slowly drizzled past, the momentum of my artist’s life has snapped to a standstill as she fights to regain her independence. Christmas brings an ending and a beginning and hopefully the year ahead will be filled with delightful surprises.

I will sing louder and I will burn as brightly as I can. I see the horizon and I will rise above this challenge. I will soar upon my colours and rain my joy upon the earth below. I will take my artist with me…….

Journal Comments

  • jetsta42
  • Roger Sampson