I have a large uterine fibroid growing in my belly. The medical community defines a "uterine fibroid" as a noncancerous growth in or on the uterus that can develop during childbearing years. The causes of fibroids are not well understood or researched but are thought to be related to a family history of fibroids, diet, excess estrogen collecting in the uterus, and, in some circles, the harboring of emotional or spiritual trauma. The medical professionals I've seen think that it has gone undetected for years, slowly growing bigger, but was finally discovered in the November of 2019. I feel it explains a myriad of strange and mysterious symptoms I've been experiencing, such as a feeling of constant fullness or pressure, torso muscle and back pain, and roundness or firmness in my abdomen. Although, doctors cannot confirm that the fibroid is their cause.
The pandemic has delayed surgery three times so far. Isolated in quarantine, I worked a landscaping job out in Oregon, Wisconsin maintaining a large property and garden. Alone and on the land, I felt present in my body and quietly observed the nature around me: bugs, animals, and the way things grow. I watched the cornfield next door grow from seed, be harvested, and turn brown as the colder months approached, the stalks appearing abandoned by the farmer. Eventually, they would come to collect the rest of the stalks, leaving a row or two near the edge of the yard I was working on. I hurriedly gathered what they had left and turned it into the abstract weaving you see before you.
I am searching for metaphors in the materials and the processes you see here in the gallery. I crave meaning and understanding - why is my body doing this? Why does it collect instead of expel? Why build this tumor and weave my uterus's muscle tissue into a tangled overgrowth?
These corn stalks, remnants of agriculture, help me understand my body's excess uptake of estrogen. I need to make sense of it because no medical professional can tell me why this is happening to me or how to stop it. The weaving is what I imagine my body is doing with its own leftover material, as I contemplate what spiritual or physical discomfort is manifesting as this sickness, this fibroid. I feel as though I exist on its terms, the space in my abdomen filled with what feels like stone, a heaviness I wish I could be emptied of and freed from. I wait patiently and in discomfort for a new surgery date.
To draw out the internal landscape of my body into the gallery's public space, I have included the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans the surgeon showed me. Below is a brief explanation of the findings in plain terms:
The uterus displays a fibroid or benign tumor growing on its outer muscle layer. An average uterus measures 3 to 4 inches by 2.5 inches, while this one has overall measurements of 8.27 x 4.92 x 6.1 inches. The fibroid measures 7.64 x 4.37 x 6.10 inches, and there is a segment at the top that has likely outgrown its blood supply and is dead (the white cloud-like shape) that measures 3.94 x 2.13 x 3.98 inches.