I've amassed a large collection of work for Where the Red Flowers Bloom, and looking through the hundreds of images, it always strikes me how much certain images still resonate with me. Though I am grateful that my days of intense pain have dwindled to a handful a month from the constant onslaught of daily symptoms I was having pre-hysterectomy, there are days I wonder how it is possible that one tiny ovary and one bleeding cyst can cause such breathtaking pain.
I also have come to experience a very odd sensation that I can only describe as phantom ovary pain where my left ovary used to be. Though this is fading the further out from surgery I am, it is a bizarre experience to feel as if there is a cyst there where ultrasounds have confirmed that there is nothing at all.
Regarding the work itself, I am beginning to see a goal for this project. It has been a year since I began Where the Red Flowers Bloom and it honestly seems like a lifetime. I feel my attention being pulled to explore other aspects of life with chronic illness, particularly to address the complexity of living with multiple autoimmune diseases, my relationship to my body and gender, and other details of health that don't quite mesh with this project.
As I enter the editing and reflection phase of this project, still being open to adding to it as I produce more work, I know that I want to see this realized as a book and educational resource. Because there is so much misinformation both in the medical and social spheres of awareness of endometriosis that directly impacts patients (I myself have been subjected to uninformed treatment that was far more damaging than helpful), I would like the hours upon hours of research on studies, anatomy, and pathology regarding this disease that I have done to be of some use to someone.
I don't know yet if this book is the place to start pulling out statistics and medical journal citations, or if meshing the personal experience with the research will diminish one side or the other. I'm allowing for the possibility of two very different publications with very different purposes. Maybe the research will come in on an entirely different project, or maybe it will feel natural inside this narrative.
One of the issues I struggled with creating my undergraduate thesis book "A Family of Complicated Bodies" was this idea of providing factual information and how to relate the personal narrative in a way to educate the reader while also showing the profound impact of the illnesses being discussed. As I re-envision that project as well, I find myself asking myself the same questions I did back in 2018, though I feel like I am articulating better answers this time around.
On a final note, I hope you are doing well through the coronavirus. My family and I are well, we are quarantining together and are in relative good health, standing health issues aside. The stress of the situation and financial uncertainty have brought out flares aplenty in each one of us, but we are managing the best we can. We are continuing to make work together and take care of ourselves. Stay well and stay safe.