I was in the hospital for a heavy thing last October. The ultrasounds and CT scan showed I had a big, solid mass--the size of a volleyball--in my abdomen. It was pushing on my other organs and I needed it removed. When I entered the ER on a Monday for a CT scan, little did I know I’d be staying at the hospital until Saturday.
I had started feeling discomfort a few months before, but I didn’t think much about it. Like so many things, I thought my body was just changing. I thought cramps were just a new symptom my body was experiencing as I got older. I felt discomfort and a little “off”—but it wasn’t any type of sharp, unbearable pain. Sometimes I think we get used to things--the weight of heavy or uncomfortable things, and we seem to find ways to manage.
When three tests indicated it was a "solid, complex mass," I was scheduled to have surgery two days after I went to the ER--on my birthday. I had just gotten engaged about two weeks prior to the hospitalization. The celebration and planning quickly came to a halt, as I didn’t know what my next week would look like anymore!
Lying on a hospital bed, there's not much you can hide. You actually don’t want to hide much, in case it might be more detrimental to your health and delay recovery. Your heart rate and temperature are constantly checked, your meals (or IVs) are being monitored, and even your bowel movements are logged (Oh joy!).
You want to do the things that make you feel alive, free. You don’t necessarily feel brave—but sometimes you feel you’ve been given just enough strength to go through each hour of each day.
When stressful times arise, I tend to need a lot of time to process. I kind of get into a bubble--I doodle, or write about things I can’t quite understand. It started when I was about ten, right after my family made a big move to Brazil from the U.S. (more on that later). More than a decade later, it’s still true—take me through an unexpected hospitalization on the week of my birthday, and you’ll find me wanting to hide in a corner somewhere with some paper and pen.
The photo above was taken by my then-fiancé (now husband) that week. He still says it’s one of his favorites—because I was just in my element, seemingly so unaffected by what was around me as I water colored and doodled away. I didn’t want my computer, I didn’t want to watch movies or TV—I wanted to create patterns and shapes, movement in a space where I was confined. I wanted to escape to my doodle bubble.
My time at the hospital ended with good news: the solid mass turned out to be a fluid-filled cyst, and the doctors were able to safely drain and remove it with surgery (YAYYY). The tests showed nothing was malignant, and I was ready to go into recovery. I was out of the hospital two days later.
I was no longer carrying that heavy thing physically—but I thought about that week a lot, even as I dove back into a whirlwind of events (visits, work, wedding planning, etc). When I was there, I just wanted to be out of the hospital. I thought about the people outside, going about their days, grabbing lunch, getting stuck in traffic. Their days continued, as things seemed to have paused for me.
I kept thinking about how I wish we could be somewhat as bare, vulnerable, and determined as we are when we are unexpectedly lying in a hospital bed. Ready to let go of the heavy things we carry. Making promises in our heads that we are going to live better. Vowing not to take for granted anymore the everyday things our bodies are able to do. I thought about wanting to pour out as much as I could, if my life was going to change drastically or be cut shorter than I expected. Pour out my gifts, however small, to my friends and family, my circle of influence. Do as much of the things that make me feel alive.
As this October approaches, I’m jumping into my new adventure of sharing more of my creations with you through Doodle Bubble Designs. I want to shed more and more of the weight of my own fears and doubts, and not just get comfortable carrying the heavy things. I want to pour out, instead of just constantly taking in. I want to keep creating, because I’ve been given another day, and the hands to make things.
I hope the heavy things in our lives, whatever they are-- I hope we don’t get too comfortable with them. I hope we don’t just carry them around with us, as they push against all that is healthy and good, that is trying to keep us alive. I hope Doodle Bubble Designs reminds us to keep creating movement where we are, keep fighting to be bare, vulnerable, and determined to live, even when we’re not in a hospital bed.
From Ruth: Quick update since soft launch!
Yay, I finally put my work out there, and I didn’t die from a vulnerability hangover! I often get scared and let my doubts take over, but I’m hanging in there, and the encouragement has been very supportive. I still have a lot to figure out at this point, as I balance designing with my other job, and figuring out the direction I’d like to go with DBD.
I juuuust created a Facebook business page, so please JOIN ME HERE for updates. What it’ll look like next is I’m planning to add a Custom Designs page (for custom invites, gifts) and a Free Printables page (with free to-do lists, coloring pages, etc that you can print at home!). I’m also going to be creating a few more greeting card designs and art prints for the shop, and I can’t wait to share those with you! So, if you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you are in this adventure with me (or you are married to me: Hi Taylor!). Thank you so, so much for your support. It means the world to me.