A Crafts Community For Craft Ideas & DIY Projects - Craftster.org
Help | About | Press | Advertise | Cookie Policy | Terms | Site Map
Welcome, Guest
News from Internet Brands:
Closing the Craftster Community on December 19, 2019.
Read the details here.
Total Members: 323,619
Currently Running With Scissors:
295 Guests and 0 Users
Home Craftster Community Crafting Articles Craft Tutorials Crafting Calendar City Guides

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10
Jump to page:
  Show Images Only     Send this topic  |  Print  |  Bookmark  
Topic: I had Brain Surgery  (Read 35017 times)
Tags for this thread: altered , assemblage , ephemera , art , craftster_best_of_2007 , featured_project  Add new tag
Share the love... Pin it Submit to reddit  
« on: December 17, 2007 08:31:00 PM »

...and this is my assemblage from all the ephemera!

First, a pic:

In the summer of 2004, I had brain surgery to correct a congenital vascular (blood vessel-related) deformation in my brain: an AVM.  (Senator Tim Johnson [D-S.D.] had one, too, but his made him stroke out. Oops!)  Mine was luckily caught in time by MRI and strange symptoms (tongue seizures), but the surgery was one of those "life events" I am loathe to wear on my sleeve as part of my identity.  Nonetheless, it is. 

Back when I was applying to architecture school (ha.  That didn't happen.), I was working on a portfolio, and I started this assemblage.  I finally got more glue and more inspiration (my original E-6000 sealed itself shut a while ago) yesterday, so I finished it. 

More pics!
As you can see, it's fully portable in its original briefcase that I destroyed:

This is the "top" portion of the opened briefcase.  It represents the surgery portion of my experience: MRI films in the background, doctors' appointments, skin staples, medications, and the immediate aftermath from the surgery.
  This is the "bottom" portion, which represents my recovery: get well cards, physical and occupational therapy for my paralyzed arm and weird gait, giving myself time, waiting for my hair to grow back, and dealing with fun new double vision.
Some close-ups:

This little triptych was placed in the backs of pocket watches.  A recurring theme in my work is time: giving myself time, waiting, and recovering.  You can see my immediate post-surgery incision, with all 29 staples in my head.  I called it my "zipper".  Also, my neurosurgeon's business card, and an eye-chart, due to my double vision that appeared right after surgery. 

In this corner we have a fun little pile of pills and pill bottles, for my many hated medications.  They made me dizzy.  In one pill bottle is my driver's license.  I could not drive afterwards since my vision was blurry.  In another bottle are dice that used to spell out "long and slow" I think.  They moved (damned play-doh!).  The third bottle has my health insurance card, signifying what a mess the whole health care industry is in, and how ill-prepared I was to deal with it at age 22.  Eep.  You can also see the tool used to pull all 29 staples out of my head, an a nice shot of my new haircut. 

In this corner we have little mugs spelling out "AVM", my condition.  The images are from an old phrenology textbook, which is cool.  The ruler is snapped to the approximate size of my AVM (3cm x 4cm).  You can also see the index prints I glued onto tags and used to show our activities and love throughout the summer.  I think they almost look like a flimstrip as they line the case.

This image again, but with the lightbulb (idea from the brain, of course) and the hourglass (again, theme of time).  Also, the full spelling of my condition, which took many alphabet beads!

Here are my staples.  All 29.  They're lining an anatomical image I love.  "AVM" here is spelled using old Hollywood clapboard tiles (scene 42, take 3).  The heart is placed anatomically where my AVM was.  Dice (there's another) are on "3" and "4", again, for the size of my AVM, as well as representing the uncertainty of going into "elective" surgery. 

These are a few of the get-well wishes that poured in from relatives I hadn't heard of, as well as close friends and family.  I had originally been upset with my mother for telling everyone (I swear, she answered the phone saying, "My daughter's having brain surgery; please hold."), but when the love and support started coming in the mail, and when I had zillions of e-mails to respond to upon arriving home from the hospital, I felt ensconced in all their care.  The matzah ball soup represents "Jewish penicillin", for recovery.  Also visible are several exercises I was supposed to do with Thera-putty (strong play-doh) for my formerly paralyzed hand.

More exercises.  Also weird man with many hats on.  I was told not to keep my incision covered, but to let it air.  I was afraid of freaking people out with my "headband", so to speak.  I looked for hats, to at least keep my skin from burning during the summer.  The circular image was from an angiogram (I think) during my surgery, showing the actual AVM.  It's basically a knotted messed up bunch of veins and arteries, resembling, I do admit, spaghetti. 

Finally, one of my favorite pieces.  I read the book, "I Had Brain Surgery; What's your Excuse" by Suzy Becker, before my surgery.  In the book, she wished she had a pin to tell people she had brain surgery, so they'd be patient with her and show kindness.  I wholly embraced this idea, and made myself my own pin.  Many thought I was kidding when they read it.  Then they became suddenly very shy when I showed them my incision. 

I hope you've enjoyed reading about this very special project.  It was cathartic not only to create my assemblage, but also to photograph it and share it with you.  If you have any questions I did not answer in my novel above, please feel free to ask away.  Thank you for reading this far.

If you're starving for more to read, you can check out my narrative about my surgery (almost like a blog) at http://www.westga.edu/~wmaples/tenenbaum_abi.html

Epilogue:  I lived.  I have recovered 98% of function in my left hand/arm, and 100% in my leg.  My smile (the left side of my face was kind of droopy) is still wonky, but not a big deal for someone who will never "Be a model, or just look like one".  My vision fixed itself (after I made the appt with the opthamologist, of course!), and MRIs from 2 years post surgery show the AVM is GONE!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2008 06:19:57 PM by lil_abi - Reason: To fix pictures » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Mama to baby twins.  Frantic crafter while they nap!

My blog: http://SLiPsofthetongue.wordpress.com

DH's humorous and often offensive blog: http://mymasonicapron.blogspot.com
Have a savage love for reckless wonder...
Offline Offline

Posts: 563
Joined: 26-Jun-2006

Celebrate Your Vices!!

View Profile WWW available for personal swaps
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2007 08:35:57 PM »

It's beautiful!  Way to go!  This is such a wonderful way of turning an experience that was probably very difficult into something both beautiful and tangible.

I'm up for Personal Swaps!

Ugly Shyla
Offline Offline

Posts: 1182
Joined: 06-Nov-2005

Ugly Shyla and Ugly Art Dolls

View Profile WWW
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2007 08:37:20 PM »

That is really lovely,Sorry you had to have surgery but you turned the experience into to something lovely.

Find me on most social media under @uglyshyla
Doll and Art Etsy
Website http://www.uglyart.net
My famous Painting Squirrel http://www.facebook.com/winkelthesquirrel
Tutorial Contributor

Offline Offline

Posts: 5874
Joined: 30-Aug-2007

Busy sculpting...

View Profile available for personal swaps
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2007 08:44:01 PM »

This is even better than a journal. Wow! What a great way of preserving your history.

« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2007 08:45:35 PM »

I spent all summer volunteering on the neurology/neurosurgery floor at HUP! They were pretty amazing.
This seems like a great thing to do for yourself & it turned into something really interesting and cool too!
There's not much in this world that can't be improved by either chocolate, bacon or glitter.
Offline Offline

Posts: 9486
Joined: 10-Jun-2007

Dahlin, I'm so glamorous I cry glitter tears.

View Profile WWW available for personal swaps
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2007 08:56:56 PM »

I'm so impressed with this!  Not only do your assemblages strike a cord, the fact that they are in a plain, black briefcase ties in so perfectly with you not wanting to "wear it on your sleeve".  Many layers to this work, both figuratively and literally.

My blog, Suddenly Surrounded by Taxidermy
My Etsy: Bubble Off Plumb Productions

'16 FPs: 50
'17 FPs: 72
'18 FPs: 89
'19 FPs: 84
Life, liberty and the pursuit of craftiness.
Offline Offline

Posts: 3249
Joined: 16-Sep-2007

Gotta go - kids chewed thru their straps...

View Profile WWW available for personal swaps
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2007 09:04:26 PM »

 Grin What a totally awesome way to do recovery from brain surgery!! Hat off to you! Grin

Come check out my etsy shop - vintage, eco-friendly and all kinds of crafty goodness Smiley

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."
1 Cor. 13:4
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2007 09:39:28 PM »

Wow.  Your piece of work is beyond extraordinary.  I'm not even sure what to say.  It's amazing... the details and everything.  I'm so glad you recovered!
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2007 10:46:02 PM »

this is amazing!
Offline Offline

Posts: 121
Joined: 15-Oct-2007

ill make you shiver with anticipation

View Profile
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2007 12:01:46 AM »

that literally left me speechless  :-Xkudos

save vinyl!

Threads you might like:
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10 Jump to page:
  Send this topic  |  Print  |  Bookmark  
Jump to:  

only results with images
include swap threads
advanced search
Crafting Ideas
Crafting How-Tos
Crafting Ideas
Crafting Topics

Latest Blog Articles
Tute Tuesday: Christmas Crack
Meal Prep Monday: Black Eyed Pea and Squash Soup
Craftster Featured Projects - Dedicated to the People Who Made It

Craftster heartily thanks the following peeps...

Follow Craftster...

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2008-2012, SimplePortal
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!

Help | About | Press | Advertise | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Terms | Site Map | Do not sell my personal information

Copyright ©2003-2017, Craftster.org, © 2009-2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands