Monday, November 22, 2010
RSD Body Pic 4 with Swollen Breasts Covered with Permacath RemovalBandage - Veins Exploded from Swelling
Melanie Miller struggles with a severe neurological disorder known as transverse myelitis.
She struggles with several other very serious illnesses at the same time, and is often disabled.
I don't remember how I found her site. It was probably when I saw one of her paintings (she works in many visual media) and ended up learning about how she deals with this disease through her photo journaling.
I suppose loved ones are assisting in the photo taking, so I apologize for not knowing whether this was a tripod shot or whether she had someone assist with the photo.
It doesn't really matter, does it? Because what's important about the work is not who is taking the photo here, but who is in it.
And what she's dealing with.
Miller writes of this photo:
RSD Body Pic 4 with Swollen Breasts Covered with Permacath Removal Bandage - Veins Exploded from Swelling.
The title says it all. Carrying an extra 21 pounds of RSD flare-up swelling that has invaded my entire body - mostly my face, arms, and chest - this horrific band of blue and purple veins (varicose? spider?) exploded over a week ago and continues to darken. I can't wait for the IV Ketamine; I wonder if it will turn my skin back in time...or if my breasts will return to their normal 32D/34C from what I would guess to be a 34D or E. Hmmmm.
No bras for now...doctor's order. Let the big boobies bounce (ouch) in the wind.
Notice the fresh manicure? Last weekend my 6-yr-old niece and I got mani-pedis together. She picked out the color - fluorescent pink."
She documents most of her medical trials and you can see her earned jubilance at successes and her honest reactions to the tragic setbacks.
I consider her very brave for sharing this work with others.
Illness, like death, is often forbidden as conversational (or photographic) subject matter in contemporary culture.
It's shunted off to the sidelines and hidden whenever possible.
Even with today's obsession with reality t.v. shows, when these subjects are addressed the human toll is nearly always sanitized for the viewing audience.
Miller doesn't treat her life like a reality t.v. show. She treats it like the reality it is. And this dignifies the struggle to survive. And I'm hoping it makes friends of strangers for her as well. I'm betting it does.
Because the artist in her is showing us how to give form to something which all too often seems hopelessly formless and void when it comes upon us.