Monthly Archives: July 2016

Kintsugi: The Art of Embracing Damage

A new fellow valve replacement surgery friend (“Valver” as we say) emailed me to tell his similar story to me. One thing he said stuck out to me, and reminded me of something that I have thought about quite a bit, but never wrote about here. He wrote,

I think of myself as an analogy…I feel like a broken plate that’s been glued back together…in one piece, but it won’t take much to break me again.”

kintsugiThis describes Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi), the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. What my new friend doesn’t realize, is that although he feels fragile now (he is still only 5 months post op), when the lacquer dries, he will feel more beautiful, and stronger than before. I can speak to this from experience. The speed and volume of personal and emotional growth that I have experienced since my heart surgeries has been incredible. I am a better, kinder, more honest person now, because this experience has unlocked something that was laying dormant inside me.

Please watch this very informative and poetic explanation of what Kintsugi is. When I watch this video, it brings me to tears because for someone who has been through a traumatic experience such as open heart surgery, Kintsugi is more than an analogy.

Some quotes from the video:

The art of Kintsugi became famous for turning broken objects into pieces more beautiful than the original product.

The fractures on a ceramic bowl don’t represent the end of that object’s life, but rather an essential moment in its history. The flaws in its shape aren’t hidden from inspection, but emblazoned with golden significance. 

The pristine is less beautiful than the broken. 

Bob’s Aortic Adventure

At this point in my own recovery, I have less to say and I say it less often (which is a tremendous current state of affairs if you ask me), so now my role is connecting with others who are going through, at various stages, their own valve replacement sagas. Bob is one of those people who somehow found my blog, connected with me via email before his surgery, and is now recovering (and blogging about) his own aortic valve replacement procedure. 


Like me, Bob moved from the east side to the west(ish) side. Bob is also a climber, and a very proficient trad climber at that. And like me, Bob has a mechanical aortic valve prosthesis. Like me, he has to navigate things like rock climbing while on anticoagulation therapy, and hiking up mountains with a body recovering from open heart surgery.

Bob is telling is story, like I told mine, like so many people these days choose to do after major surgery/ traumatic event. Doing so gives us power, knowledge, solidarity, and new friends.

Bob invited me on a climbing adventure some time next summer. I keep telling myself I’m going to start training for that…

Here is Bob’s Aortic Adventure Blog!

http://myaorticadventure.blogspot.com