Three days a week, I sit with my favorite blanket and a pad of paper. I let my mind wander; I explore colors, brushes, nibs, styles. Then the machine beeps. I pack up my supplies and wait while Nurse Allen unhooks the tubes and pulls the needle from my arm. I say goodbye and head home. Another day at dialysis checked off the list.
The first time I walked into the treatment center was nearly 2 years ago. My doctors had confirmed what we so long feared: my kidneys were failing. Within months, my whole world was turned upside down. So long were the days of my 9 to 5 job. My full-time work now was fighting for my life. Treatment, rest, checkups, repeat.
Without a job to go to, most days I had no idea what to do with myself. I was bored, but exhausted. I was stir- crazy, but overwhelmed. I was spiritless, but stressed.
My love of DIY prompted an idea for an Etsy store that turned out to be successful. I started selling handmade party supplies; piñatas were one of the biggest hits. I signed up for online courses to learn new skills and broaden my repertoire of products. One day, I signed up for a calligraphy class. At the time, I thought this would be great for my Etsy shop. I wanted prettier writing for the descriptions but had no idea how to download new fonts! I quickly realized that calligraphy was exactly where my heart had been all along.
Calligraphy led to watercolor lettering, which has evolved even further into florals and abstract art. The freedom in the brush strokes, the mixing of colors and the overall exploration of creativity pulls me in every time I open my paints and pour a cup of water. I began taking my supplies with me on dialysis days. Soon I was actually looking forward to curling up in my chair with the machines on.
While I still struggle daily with balancing living life fully and survival, I have embraced the unexpected road to creativity. On some days, it just feels like a business—a small way I can still contribute to my family. But on most days, I am strangely thankful for my disease, for the path it has brought me down, the creativity it has pulled from within me, and the beautiful opportunity it has given me to be an entrepreneur and artist.