Healing through art

Nothing can stop me from producing artwork in any form–not even my illness.

If it weren’t for my art, I would be in the throes of despair right now, focusing on the limitations imposed by my condition rather than the boost in creativity brought on, no doubt, by daily ingestions of dopamine. Granted, the creativity was there already. What’s surprising is the scope and production rate of my artistic pursuits–whether paintings or manuscripts. Six months ago, I could have added playing the piano as one of my other outlets. But my parkinson’s is progressing and my fingers are not quite as nimble as they used to be.

For me, the most debilitating manifestation of the disease is the “freeze” during which I cannot walk because the neurons in my brain are not responding to my instructions to lift my right leg. Freezing occurs every morning before I take my first dose of medication, and every night after the effects of the last dose wear off. Since freezing can happen anytime I don’t leave the house without my cool, colorful, collapsible cane.

I view the sudden loss of mobility as a temporary nuisance rather than an insurmountable obstacle and strategize accordingly.  When I’m home I use props to help me move from point A to point B: a solid wood cane, a bar stool I drag along to maintain my balance while holding on to the wall, a folding chair to rest on (the mental effort required to get the neurons to cooperate is physically exhausting). When none of this works, I drop to my knees and propel myself forward on all fours–the fastest way to reach my destination. Undignified, perhaps, but effective.

Inspiration knows no bounds. Often, an unfinished painting summons me in the middle of the night. It takes a while to get to my workroom, formerly my office, a few feet away from the bedroom. Once there I sit on the floor and gather the necessary tools to complete the artwork. With functioning arms and hands, I’m able to mix paints or cut paper without any trouble. Hours pass. In the quiet of the night I create. I’m happy, fulfilled, productive. And then, as dawn breaks, the pills kick in. I stand up. What a transformation! Not wanting to miss a single moment of my life while I’m mobile, I take off like the wind, thankful for each step–each one, to me, a gift.

2 responses to “Healing through art

  1. Hello Monique,
    I came across your website through the Chatham art league website. I am also on it, a new member and was looking around. Your website really jumped at me especially this cross cultural aspect and you are from Switzerland and have lived in many countries. I am french and have a cross cultural background as well and some Swiss and Québec and have lived in many countries as well (Indonesia, England, Japan and France). I have roots in Geneva (my grand-father was from there) but everyone else is from the Paris area. I created a cross-cultural magazine website in 1999 which is still up if you want to take a look. http://www.digitrends.com/crossingcultures/mag.htm
    I would also like to talk to you about your illness. One of my couins in France also has Parkinsons and she tried an operation which helped her a lot. If you read french she has also written a little book about her experience. Anyway I hope you are OK and feel free to contact me anytime. Anne

  2. Sassy Swiss Miss

    Hello Anne —
    Thank you for your kind words. I have several projects pending at the moment, but would love to meet you somewhere in the Chatham area when I have more time. Shall we aim for November?

    Monique