James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

10: Clots

I'm writing this from the 10th floor of the Intensive Care Unit at Rush University Medical Center. Friday morning, I was hospitalized after my fiancée found me passed out in the bathroom. It was discovered that I had blood clots in my lungs that restricted oxygen from the rest of my body. A few minutes ago, I had a procedure to remove the large clots and now having liters of blood thinner pumped into my body to break up the smaller clots. The doctors stated that if my fiancée had not found me that morning, I would have been dead. Needless to say, a learned quite a bit about blood clots this weekend.

It's strangely fascinating how blood clots originate, spread, and the damage they can cause while growing. It reminded me of the "clots" that spread outside of our physical bodies. These could be the small things we ignore that slowly grow into a bigger problem, much like my small blood clot that grew into a large one in a three month period.

I know I've had plenty of "clots" that started off small until they grew big over the months. They ranged from overworking until that moment I realized I've missed out on key time with loved ones, ignoring that week of bad sleep until I made bad decisions with a lack of energy, or even letting a small car problem go "unnoticed" until it turned into a large painful repair, everything builds in due time if it goes ignored. No matter how much I stuffed that little pain, it will be a constant nagging until it is too late, and while things may be repairable at that moment, it can be the difference between a quick fix and a lengthy ordeal.

The doctors at Rush suspected to believe that the large blood clots that were blocking my lungs, to the point where I was only receiving 40% of my needed oxygen, originated from a black widow bite in my leg during our trip to Portland in late October. At that point, it was a small, numbing in my leg that my primary doctor ignored and chalked it up to venom and gave me antibiotics, but slowly the clot moved and spread from my leg, to my heart, and to my lungs which where it grew immensely. A quick fix that could have been treated with antibiotics while small, eventually grew into something that needed a major procedure and tubes that ran from my legs to my lungs. Big difference right? The same way that we treat medical issues can be a metaphor for how we treat issues in our creative process and every day desicions. Some of the things we see as small we can easily ignore, and don't notice their troubles until they self destruct us.

It's been a heavy weekend of self reflection, both on my physical and mental health. It's strange that when your physical health is down, it allows you to think more about the other forms of health that are bringing you down, those physical and metaphorical clots that are blocking us from what we are trying to do. Whether it's being able to walk and breathe properly, or starting a project that has you mentally stuck, breaking down clots at the beginning always have a positive effect.

It's been really hard to write this week's letter. Honestly, it's gone through many revisions on how to talk about this. I'm curious to what "clots" have you been stuck with as of lately? What have you been noticing is something that could be taken care of easily at the beginning but can slowly grow into something bigger if you ignore it? Just hit reply and let me know.

Thanks for reading and see you next week,

-James

What did I find interesting this week?

1) Cal Newport: “Follow Your Passion” Is Bad Advice: Self explanatory, by the gentleman who I highly recommend his book, So Good They Can't Ignore You.

2) Perfect Photos Each Time: CJ Chilvers debunks the need for "good gear" to create good photos.

3) Life Is A Game. This Is Your Strategy Guide: A creative comparison to living life as the stages of a video game.

4) Why diversity actually matters (examining women and people of color in the Net Awards): A strong critique by Alison House about the lack of diversity in the Net Awards. A must read.

5) Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 5 Announced: An amazing conference in Cleveland that I attended last year just announced their 2014 dates. Go support them and the thoughtfulness that goes behind their programming and inclusiveness. See you in August!

James T. Green