"This illness is to fatigue,
what a match is to a nuclear bomb.
It's an absurd mischaracterization!"
~Laura Hillenbrand

June 29, 2007

Van Gough

"A Tribute to Van Gough"
Copyright M. Pruitt 2007

Two years ago, I traveled from the West Coast to Toledo Ohio to see a doctor who specialized in my illness. At our visit, he found out that I am an emerging artist, and he suggested we visit the Toledo Art Museum.

It exceeded his description! Of course, being a long time Impressionist fan, we headed directly to the area of impressionists to seek out the two Monet's in their collection.

But, though I did love the two Monet's - I was overwhelmed in a room with Van Gough's, Cezanne's, Signat's, Degas' and more! I walked from piece to piece going close to look at the brush strokes and backing up to get the full effect.

I came to a very simple Van Gough - a wheat field. I had never been a Van Gough fan but as I walked up, my heart leapt. I could see every movement and color that he had put into this painting and it was as if his soul touched mine. Tears came to my eyes. Then I moved to the next one... a beautiful blue and green painting of "House at Auvers". I purchased a postcard of that painting to remember it.

When I got home, I checked out several videos about the lives of some of the Masters I had seen. Van Gough's story touched me. His father was a minister. He wanted to be a minister too, but he wasn't good at public speaking. So the church sent him out as a missionary for six months, but then decided he wasn't suited for ministry so they released him. His family rejected his artistic endeavors and he felt very isolated - from the church and family - and though his art had to come out of him, I got the feeling he never really valued it.

The following year, we went back to Toledo and we planned in a trip to the Museum again. They were more spectacular than I remembered! This time I purchased a print to hang on my wall of Van Gough's "House at Auvers". And I determined I would give it try in watercolor!

This year, I have become involved in an art group on eBay called Watercolors Wet'n Wild (WnW). It's a small juried group of artists dedicated to painting in watercolor - though very diverse in style and technique. We decided to do a monthly Masters challenge. Each month, we paint a watercolor of a specific Master or at least in the style of the Master. If you scroll down, you can see my "Tribute to Picasso" in one of my hospital posts.

Well, this month, June, is Vincent Van Gough month. I've been waiting for this month to come!!! And then my illness flared up and I'd just about given up getting my Van Gough done.

Not only that - I couldn't even get myself to paint anything. I wasn't completely sure what was wrong...

I knew I needed to reconnect myself with my life goal of Loving God. Through a series of events, I began to do that - and with each thing God kept pushing and reminding me that my art is a gift he has given me - to love HIM with!

Then, two days ago - totally unknowing that I was pondering Van Gough and his painting - a good friend of mine blogged about Vincent. I strongly suggest you read her post click here.

Suddenly - my passion came back - not to create to become noticed or to make money - but to create for God. To feel his pleasure through my creating. To create for him. Very quickly, I picked up my paints and paper and the result was the painting above - "A Tribute to Van Gough".

(BTW - it is for sale on my website click here It's 5"x7" on Hot press. Do you know how hard it is to use an oil painting as a reference and then paint it with watercolor? And yet the challenge was a thrill!! I had more fun painting this than I have had in a long time!)

Van Gough was rejected from serving God as he wanted, because his gift didn't fit the typical church requirements. But his gift was in his eye and hand and his artistic expression. And I know it pleased God. Sometimes I've wondered if I'm as valuable to God as I used to be - now that I'm stuck at home sick. But that is wrong.

Since God's commandments are to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart" and to "Love other", I know he takes great pleasure in anything I create for him in love.

~Melanie

PS: Here's a YouTube video with the song "Vincent". You can see some of his diverse paintings if you're interested.

June 19, 2007

Somewhere Over The Rainbow....

***You might want to click on the third song of my musical journey for this post***



I awoke to a beautiful summer day! (except the loud trucks outside putting in a new water line LOL). I do hope to spend some time sitting outside on my lounge chair today (thank you for the idea April!)

You know, hope in God is a mysterious and wonderful thing. If we are quiet - don't try to fight our own battles - hope and trust in his plan and timing... amazing things can happen.

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW... SKIES ARE BLUE

Because it involves other people's lives and careers, I don't feel at liberty to share my whole story about this past week with you all. But God heard my cries and he was faithful and held me firmly in his grasp. He is my rock.

Yesterday, while my energy lasts, my daughter Ellen and I decided to take an outing together. We went to Kohl's (didn't see you there Gina LOL).

(I actually have quite a bit of energy right now... mostly I think because I was given a high volume of IV saline and potassium all week, which increases my blood volume for a short time)

But just as we began shopping, my cell rang. It was my PCP - my favorite doctor in the world. (I've seen her for 18 years... she birthed 2 of my children and literally saved my life in the second birth) I told her only the top layer of what had happened. She was appalled. She began making calls and is quickly looking into the mistakes, the accusations and she clarified many things for me which has helped my emotional pain immensely.

I do feel badly now, as I know at least one person is going to be in a lot of trouble. I know... I was the mistreated one... but somehow I can't help feeling sorry for the one who was at fault.

My outing yesterday was so therapeutic and fun! I have only been able to wear soft stretchy sweat pants because all of my regular jeans and pants button over the spot that is very painful in my stomach - which flares up a full day of pain. So Ellen helped me find some "stylish" jeans... low rise and flare at the bottom... she's my style expert. She bought summer clothes and then we topped it off with a Frappucino at Starbuck's. We sat outside and talked and I let the sun and cool fresh air revive me.

Proverbs says "Raise up a child in the way he should go, and he will never stray from it."

I must say in this post that I am so very proud of Ellen. She has become such a beautiful woman of God - so encouraging and supportive and fun to be with. And... as she knows... she was not an easy child to raise! LOL! But her love for Jesus has brought her to a place in life where His light shines through her eyes, through her actions and her very presence. Her willingness to shop with and spend time with her old mom was such a gift - through Ellen, from God.

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW....

Sometimes we dream about life being different than it is. But really, the other side of the rainbow is right here, because God is right here!

As a closing, as I've been thinking about rainbows... I wanted to share with you my most recent Stretched Canvas painting. It took me hours and hours to paint... but the bright colors were like God's finger prints to me - every time I picked it up to work on it! The front view is up at the top... but here's how it looks from the side.






Thank you for all your prayers and support!

xox,
Melanie

June 18, 2007

Home Again

I am HOME!!!

The Gi doc decided to do a different procedure on Saturday - an MRI type thing that checks for stones.

It came back negative so no ERCP. And I was quickly - with no doctor consultation or explanation, dismissed from the hospital.

I have always been so proud of my hospital and doctors because they have never considered my Parial Dysautonomia as mental or drug seeking or anything negative that many others with my illness seem to expereince.

Well, this time was different.

Though I did my best to explain my situation to all three doctors I saw, and every nurse, somehow, I was not heard.

Strange and hurtful responses by doctors, nurses and botched tests filled my last days at the hospital.

This is probably the deepest hurt and disappointment I've felt in a long time... but the two strings holding me up right now are my family - who love me and keep my mind off it and second is my hope in God.

As I was driving home, I was thinking to myself that I have never felt so squashed and defeated and hopeless... but as I thought the word hopeless, my eyes caught the sun, breaking through the clouds, forming the most beautiful sunlight streaming down, and I remember that my hope is not in people (doctors and hospitals) but in God. It was like He was hearing my thoughts and reaching down to remind me of the truth.

"Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is reavealed"
I Peter 1:13b

So I'm lifting my broken heart up to Him... stressing my ANS by crying... and very slowly processing all that was said to me and assumed about me without really knowing me, my diagnosis, or the reasoning behind my treatments.

My physical pain is better for the most part. It is beleived that the stone I had in the bile duct passed, and hopefully there will not be another one any time soon!

Thank you all for your prayers.

June 16, 2007

hospital stay UPDATE

I sent out an email to many of my friends who check in here so I thought I'd leave my updates here for those who are interested in what is happening.

Yesterday, my pain returned with meals. That indicates the possibility of stones still being in the bile duct. So last night the GI doc ordered an ERCP - basically and endoscopy up into the bile duct and clearing out anything there.

There are some risks with this procedure and I was very worried about it last night and this morning - especially as I hadn't actually spoken to the GI doc.

Well, I know Bill was concerned and praying and I know one special friend in particular was concerned and directed those concerns to God, and I know many of you who received my email were praying.

God heard our prayers and answered them as well. The GI doc came in early this morning and said he'd been thinking about me late last night. He really didn't want to do the ERCP unless it was clearly necessary. So he decided to order a MRCP - a fairly new procedure that is very accurate in determining if there are stones in the bile duct. It is basically a specialized MRI.

So I had that this morning. We're waiting for the results now. The one complication is that my nurse called the technician and asked about my morning meds. He said I could take them. I only took the tiniest sip of water I could... but as he was doing the MRI he complained that I had fluid in my stomach. He said they may need to redo the MRCP again later today.

My request is that we pray that the test will be clearly read and done correctly - even if it needs to be redone. I just want the true and correct reading. I began to worry about this as I was in the MRI... and some song from the sixties came on and there was a line about reaching up above you and holding tight.... I don't even know what the song was really saying, but it reminded me that God is above me in knowledge and wisdom and control. So I reached up to him (well not with my body - I was in an MRI and they are pretty snug LOL) but in my heart and now I'm much more peaceful about the test and will trust the results because he is in charge of all things.

If I have stones, I must have the ERCP tomorrow. If I don't, I will be learning to use some new pain meds and trying to eat and will go home tomorrow.

So there's the current "Hospital Stay" status!

I sure can't wait to get home and start painting again - and writing about more significant things than how my body is feeling!

Thank you to all of you who love me so much and pray for me. And thank you to for those of you visiting for the first time... please come back and learn more about spiritual and emotional journey since I've been focusing so much on my physical journey in the last few posts!

xox,
Melanie

June 15, 2007

Hopsital Stay




Well, one week later - I made it through the weekend, but Saturday and Sunday I was so weak that I couldn't walk to the bathroom by myself. I know this stage is so difficult on my family.

I saw my Doctor Monday morning and she felt she needed to admit me to hospital. After several tests, it was determined that my bile duct from my liver was inflamed and I either have or had passed a stone.

I do not have a gallbladder so it's not a gall stone - its a stone (or stones) that have formed from the bile that's excreted from the Liver.

Today, I'm waiting to hear whether I get to go home or if I must stay for a procedure that is like an endoscopy but goes in and searches for and removes any stones.

The big issue for me is staying hydrated so that I have less of a chance of forming more stones. This is a huge concern for me at the moment, because I felt I was doing my best at this. I have a few more ideas to try, but my ANS deals with hydration differently, so I don't feel at ease with this issue.

I know the question in every one's mind - is this same problem I've been having for two years. The answer is NO. It's unrelated and the symptoms were very different this past week. Now, I'm not sure yet about the connection of the ANS dysfunction and the formation of stones. But my normal stomach issues have to do with delayed gastric emptying and this was a stone in the bile duct.

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for me. It's amazing to experience miracles and think - I bet someone prayed for that - and then I find out, sure enough, someone did!

BTW - Yes, I'm writing this from the hospital! They have Internet access for patients right from the room! Pretty cool, huh?

TTFN,
Melanie


June 8, 2007

Health Update and More About My Music

HEALTH UPDATE:

One week ago I suddenly had a an attack of severe stomach pain. I have spent the past week on liquids - getting in one Boost a day plus a little baby rice cereal. But it hasn't helped. So yesterday I began my three day treatment with nothing going into my stomach (except my necessary meds) and IV fluids to keep me hydrated.

I am so thankful that I can now do this at home instead of sitting in the hospital! On Monday, I see my doctor and by then we will know if this three days has worked or if there is something else we need to explored concerning this pain.

So of course, you're prayers are much appreciated.

*******

MORE ON THE "MUSICAL DESCRIPTION OF MELANIE"

I see my musical kD Duck friend has already been enjoying my musical "Melanie" journey! I thought you might like to know a little more about why I picked these songs. They have specific meanings and are in a specific order (changed a bit since yesterday)

First - is Chris Tomlin's song "The Power of the Cross" - a very meaningful song to me and I listen to it often. But I put it first because one of the first things of significance that happened in my life was my love for God. And when I began to understand what the cross represented, my love for Jesus became the center of my life and has been ever since.

But secondly, this song reminds me of the cross at the top of Mt. Hermon in Santa Cruz, CA. Mt. Hermon is a large conference center with trails roaming through the redwood filled hills in Santa Cruz. They have a camp for youngsters called "Redwood Camp" that I attened from fourth grade on... a camp for High Schoolers called "Ponderosa Lodge" (also attended through HS) and a main conference grounds where I have attended family camps, and as an adult, writer's conferences. I also spent a summer there working as a camp counselor and lifeguard. I always feel like I'm standing at the top of that mountain at sunrise when I listen to this song!

Second - Return to Pooh Corner... Winnie the Pooh was my bestest of friends when I was a little girl. My mom gave me a handmade Pooh Bear one year and he went everywhere with me. He heard all my secrets and he went to the hospital for every operation I had (I had 6 surgeries by the time I was 9). Pooh often had to go off for surgeries himself. Every year or so he would get a "new skin" for Christmas... then he would head off to have his new "skin" put on (wink wink). Currently, he is very floppy and still has my name written in his red shirt (of which there is only half of, now...) from a hospital stay. After many years of living with my son Chris, he now resides in my bedroom again!

Third - Rainbows have always been a favorite of mine. I think I just love color - especially the gorgeous blending of color in a rainbow. But it's also because of it's representation of God's promises. It's so important to me to know that God is good and that he is always true to his nature and keeps all of his promises. I often cling to those promises and sure enough he is always true to what He said! I also had the name "Rainbow" during the summer I was a camp counselor!

Fourth - James Taylor ... oh the wonderful memories James Taylor brings back. Our best friends John and Lieschen, weekends spent at the cabin in Lake Tahoe (eating homemade won tons for dinner and crepes for breakfast), warm summer nights, concerts at the outdoor Greek Theater in Berkley.... ahhhhh....

Fifth - Kenny G has always been one of mine and Bill's favorites for our date nights. But this one esepcially reminds of the little chapel at Mt. Hermon where Bill gave me my engagement ring and where we would have had our wedding if we hadn't had so many friends and family to invite!


Sixth
- Orinocco Flow... Enya... a more recent enjoyment for me. I love listening to Enya's music, but Orinocco Flow reminds me the most of dancing - driving Ellen to class, taking Ballet classes myself and teaching dance. In fact I never listen to that song without dancing in my mind!

Seventh - I have just discovered Jack Johnson's music through my kids. It started with his Curious George album (one of my favorite children's book series). It's now my current "playful" music. I often listen to it on my iPod as I work out at the gym or am driving somewhere in the car with my daughter. His music is artistic, fun and touches my heart.

So there you have it.... "A Description of Melanie" in music! Enjoy listening!

June 7, 2007

A Musical Definition of Melanie

Well, I really had a different topic to write about today... but then I discovered - through a friends blog, that I can add a musical playlist to my blog! "How fun!" I thought.

But then I couldn't decide what type of music I wanted playing while you read my blog! Personally, I have a hard time reading when there is also music going with words. So at first I thought just some nice background music.

But then I had a great idea. What if I created a musical biography of myself?

So here it is. Melanie in music! (and it may change from time to time - there are still a few favorites I haven't added yet)

Oh and, by the way, if you're like me and you need to have it quiet while you read - there's a nice little pause button on the music player there to your right!

Enjoy!