12 mm, or, my insides stage a civil war

I spent the early morning hours of Sunday in a Brussels hospital, attached to an IV and awaiting my fate.  One of my, and probably a fairly universally shared fear is to get seriously ill or injured while in a foreign country.  There is little that feels so isolating then to be in a place of complete unknown, both with the personal geography of my body and also in a state of ignorance to literally where I am.

At 4am, I was awoken by a pain so intense in my lower abdomen I was nauseous and shaking, unable to stand up-right, but also unable to curve my spine.  There is nothing like pain to make one closer to animal and less human.  I lost any care for social norms, and began crawling around the floor of the apt, searching for my passport and barely realizing that i needed to dress myself.  I was  taken by ambulance through the dark streets of Brussels, to a hospital of unknown origin, to be cared for by people who don’t speak my language, separated by an ocean from those i love.

I have to say that my body chose a very interesting way of celebrating Mother’s Day- as it turns out-

Disclaimer (the following part refers to body parts in perhaps a graphic manner.  If you are not comfortable with this, or are a right wing fanatic that doesn’t believe in women’s health care, you may want to skip this section)

-as it turns out, one of my ovaries had twisted while I was ovulating, constricting the blood flow and pressing into my various precious internal organs. imagine someone holding your ovaries in their hands (gentleman, imagine your testicles,) repeatedly wringing them out like a wet dishtowel, while simultaneously punching me continuously with tiny lead fists.

Amazingly enough, as the doctor gave me a sonogram, I was still able to have a momentary stroking of my ego, as he told me that he had never seen any one’s arteries so clearly, but because of my “extremely muscular and slim abdomen” (direct quote) my major veins were visibly pumping to the surface.  he was very excited, because, he said, he was actually getting to see anatomy he never gets to see, quote “I’m used to Turkish women with bigger bellies.”  Also during this, my IV began to back up, so that instead of clear solution/drugs running in me, my blood began to run out of me down the tube, and a nurse had to unscrew the connection and pour the excess blood (Mine! I couldn’t help but think) into a bowl. A particularly  stomach churning moment.

I was told that i faced the possibility of immediate abdominal surgery if my ovary had twisted too far.  Oh, priorities.  When I had gone to bed, what I had wanted most was the spicy crepe i would eat at the Sunday market. Now my new priority became avoiding being sliced into like a fish, and having my organs manually reorganized like the finishing touches of an interior designer. (“hmmm, I really sense a better Feng Shui if we just slide this ovary to the left just a little…”)

As it turned out, I am very lucky, and was exactly 12 mm away from needing  emergency surgery.

However, when the doctor asked if I would be doing any physical activity over the next week (im performing in 5 days) I of course said yes.  All though he reassured me and said it should be fine, I can’t help but have this image of my organs swinging helplessly inside me, just waiting for me to make the wrong move, jump, or spin, so that they can collide and tangle themselves beyond repair.

It’s interesting, just to think of this in a dance/creative process context.  In the project I am in with Xavier Le Roy and Marten Spangberg we have been constantly discussing the possibilities of new composition or movement with the manipulation of constraints on context, body, or image.  To me, the last couple days has placed my entire physical, emotional, and mental self into a new context and land of constraint.  I’m accustomed to being able to pretty much make or let my body do anything-im a fairly extreme mover, strength wise, stamina wise, flexibility wise.  I’m used to (and also, I admit, get psychological satisfaction from) putting my body through a rigorous physical practice at some point almost every day.  Now I’m in this place of highly tuned sensitivity to every movement my body makes superficially, and how that is affecting the movement of my internal organs.

In some ways, its very interesting to be paying attention and receiving much more information from my insides than I am usually capable of.  On the other hand, I feel like my physical practice has reached a slightly paranoic level of sensation, sensitivity, and response, that is of course unsustainable.

How do I wrap this up-I guess I’ll just say that the body never fails to surprise.  You just can’t control everything.  You can try, you can feel healthy and strong and invincible, but in the end we are this fragile animal composed of soft and quickly decomposed pieces, that at any moment might decide to stage an insurrection and remind you of their power.

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