This is Kate the Artist and I’d love to share a story about Strength
“Everyone should consider his body as a priceless gift from whom he loves above all, a marvelous work of art, of indescribable beauty, and mystery beyond human conception, and so delicate that a word, a breath, a look, nay, a thought may injure it.”
I was born with a congenital condition that went undiagnosed at birth. My mother had complained multiple times to my pediatrician about leg discrepancy and limping that she noticed while I was learning how to walk, however the doctor said I was within normal limits. . . .
By age three I had adapted to walking on a totally dislocated hip.
This though, became a catalyst for a life’s journey that revived so much more than strength.
At three and a half years old I met a different pediatrician whom discovered the dislocation through x-ray. Within ten days of that I took my first trip to Boston Children’s Hospital. There I was diagnosed with, “left hip developmental dysplasia of infancy, now completely dislocated.”
To begin the process of correcting this I had open reduction, femoral shortening, and innominate osteotomy within the first year.
My childhood was challenging and consisted of many surgeries, in which after each one I was placed in a body cast to heal for a few month intervals at a time.
Greater challenges were to come though.
The deep strength that sleeps can be awakened through the initiation of a great challenge.
this is because
The Strength You Need is Already Within You.
Detail from Forgotten Infrastructure, 2018
When I was six years old I had a severe reaction to the anesthesia during one of my surgeries, leaving me in a twenty-two day coma.
My kidneys and liver had failed, I had three blood transfusions, and life expectancy was expected to be short, but miraculously the day came when I opened my eyes.
Grandmother, Mother, and Father by my waking side, Boston Children’s Hospital, 1994.
My care team at Boston Children’s Hospital said that my recovery was an unexplained miracle.
“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave reflection.”
~Leonardo da Vinci
At age thirteenth I had what I thought would be my last surgery. The Doctors gave me confidence in that I should not have any issues with mobility until old age, in which they said that I may require a hip replacement, but my left hip was replaced when I was 26.
Total Left Hip Replacement, 2013
After my replacement, it felt like I had a whole new life. With physical limitations lifted my new range of mobility felt astonishing. I had never felt what it was like to have two normal legs and I imagined this was close to it.
This lasted just over a year though, and in 2015 my femur stress fractured around the hip replacement. The fracture was on such a micro-scale that an average x-ray could not detect it, even though my pain radar had! It felt like my femur was a toothpick and that toothpick was splintering from being twisted at both ends in different directions, especially when I put pressure on it, or moved the wrong way.
Nearly another year would pass before I received a scan that finally showed my Doctors the stress fracture. They had a picture now to the pain I had been describing. It would still take a bit more time though, to come up with a plan of action, in between which daily life became a greater challenge.
Throughout the years it has not been easy finding doctors who were willing to help and I am very grateful to find such kind ones that did. I’ve experienced many Doctors who’ve said they couldn’t help me and didn’t know of anyone that could. For example, when I was sixteen I met a Doctor who told me that I had been, “dealt a shitty hand of cards.” For a long time I believed that. From my perspective now though, this is far from so.
I was incredibly excited when I finally received a plan of action a year later, and in 2016, I proceeded with having a permanent metal rod with screws added to my femur. We hoped this would support the bone enough so that I could walk while the fracture healed.
Of corse I was fully aware that the surgery may not guaranty the desired results, but all thoughts about walking again overrode my concerns.
Metal Rod with 9 Screw Addition, 2016
A couple of months passed and though there had been no sign of the fracture healing, I was able to walk until a screw broke. A few more screws were added to sturdy the rod, but I struggled more after that surgery.
Then in 2018 another procedure was done in which an additional rod was added so that the entire length of the femur was protected, but the result of that surgery differed far from result we had theorized. This is most-likely due to numerous factors, like my hip and femur never developed properly, or healed fully from the trauma it’s been through since birth.
Additional Metal Rod with 11 Extra Screw2, 2018
No matter the reason, the experience provided a spark that ignited so much more than Deep Strength.
Growing up I had always compensated for my left hip by shifting the weight of my body and favoring the right side, but living life completely on one leg was a different obstacle.
During my last few surgeries I went through a period of intense uncertainty. I allowed fear to grip me and thought that for the rest of my life I would be immobile, in pain, and depressed. It seemed like I was slowly losing the strength and capability to preform daily life tasks along with the other activities I loved. I was building a resentment towards my body and saw it affecting and reflecting in everything around me. However I still had not reached my breaking point and it’s incredible what can happen at a breaking point.
Strength, 5″x7,” Prismacolor Pencil on Strathmore, 2018.
Trying to keep up with the things I used to do on two legs had a harsh impact on my pride. After a couple of years the battle with both physical and mental balance was depressing depleting me. I was too proud to let go and admit that I wasn’t as physically capable or as strong as I once was, therefore I had to change my lifestyle accordingly. The thought of things naturally getting worse as I aged terrified me. I felt like I had been robbed of my prime years. Feeling deprived and ashamed I did an out of character thing, I asked for help. Not to anyone or anything specific, just out load in a private moment of despair at my breaking point.
Nothing immediate happened, but later I realized that that moment was a turning point in my life. For the first time I had asked for help within rather than looking for it on the outside. This initiated a process that opened profound room for so many surprises, including following a passion to paint.
Painting, however, became a surprising guide in itself, for it had opened a course into learning the language of the subconscious.
~ The Master Work Series ~
Over twenty surgeries between the ages of three to thirteen in addition to a hip replacement at twenty six, and a few more surgeries since then, has been a test to my strength. This test, like the many we all go through on the journey of life, comes with the rewards of reviving deeper levels within the Self.
Through my experience I’ve come to the perspective that what we think we know about the human body is just a small drop in what seems like a vast ocean. We create an imbalance by often putting far too much demand on material, Doctors, and technology, and not enough upon and within ourselves.
Detail from Subconscious Strength, 2020
I still cannot use my left leg for its intended purpose, instead I use it like a tail to accomplish tasks on one leg. The physical pain I experience has not changed though my strength to transmute it has. Pain holds its many lessons, like how it reminds me every that the body works as a whole, and how one part of the body affects the whole, just as each human affects humanity.
The Master Work Series started in 2017 and little did I know the magic that would take place from doing so. Inspired by the works of so many great Masters in Art History, I now had the time and the will to create a “Master Work” of my own.
Being introduced to George Stubbs, Horse Devoured by Lion (1765) and Henri Fuseli’s, Nightmare (1781) during High School left an impression on me and this greatly inspired the imagery behind the first two Master Works, Balance; 2017 and Revival; 2018.
Before long painting remarkably grew into something more. It blossomed into my life’s work and matured into functional art that, like puzzle pieces, connect and serve a united purpose.
The Master Work Series is a visual interactive guide into the deeper levels of the Self.
It’s in these subtle layers where foundational healing, transformation, and empowerment can take place.
Detail from Transformed Creation, 2018
The Series has been one of my greatest guides. It’s taught me that the integration of all that you are, including the painful parts, is the process of becoming balanced.
BALANCE is behind the foundation of everything. If this has gone unnoticed then it becomes clear when working within.
There is much more awaiting on the journey within than things we don’t want to face.
Things like deep strength and compassion. Life changing things.
Diptych Omnipresence, December 2020
You will be surprised how Strong You Really Are . . . .
That’s a part of what I like to call
The Self’s Sweet Secret
~ Kate the Artist
Are You Ready and Willing to Explore Your Mind and So Much More?
“Obstacles cannot crush me; every obstacle yields to stern resolve.” ~Leonardo da Vinci