the healing muse

Volume 12, 2012


Lindsay Obermeyer

      74-12036 - my hospital number. My memories of hospitalization are vastly different from the notes in my chart. The textual interweaving of the two stories creates many points of intersection. Each point is an individual story with its own reading; no story is absolute. Are the waves of an electrocardiograph any more a measure of life than one's experience of it?

      The view of the body as container is limiting. It assumes a body that is clearly delineated, a specific inside/outside with the skin acting as border. Are body fluids, such as blood or urine, any less a part of the body when they are on the outside of one’s skin? Rejection of one’s fluids as Other is ultimately the rejection of Self. The Self contains the Other within it; as the two interact, they push at the body-boundaries and continuously create a new identity.

      The dehumanization that occurs in medical jargon is akin to the cleaning of the hospital linens. Body fluids and their living organisms are laundered out of the vast number of sheets, towels and gowns that are used everyday. They are killed in the rinse cycle with a solution set at a pH level of 11. I use the tradition of embroidery, as a testament of survival and resistance, to highlight what traces remain. I put the body back into the cloth and the self into the chart.

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