Memories of My Youth

Tazz the Artista

Image of Tazz The Artista

The story of Monica Lemus, aka Tazz the Artista, aka my wife, is a triumphant yet tenuous one. Throughout her life Monica has had to overcome one adverse experience after another. This series of adverse events culminated in the Spring of 2016 when she was advised by doctors that her kidney disease had entered stage 4. Thus, requiring a kidney transplant, and immediate dialysis treatment.

Living With Dialysis Is Dying With Dialysis

Doctors often like to talk to you about living with a disease, but they don’t say anything about the quality of life you will live. When you live with kidney disease using dialysis, you are not dying from it as quickly as you would without treatment – maybe. You are definitely dying with the disease. And that death is a slow and painful death-life not worth calling a life.

Living with dialysis is a nasty way to live – for the patient and the family. In fact, it’s not a way to live. You always feel debilitated. You’re stuck to a machine all night. In Monica’s case, the side effects from this treatment felt worse than anything she experienced as a result of having this disease.

Dying With Dialysis Is a Slow and Painful Death

The worst part of living with dialysis is the psychological effect this experience has had on Monica and the family. The reminders of her illness are always present. There are the boxes upon boxes of pallet shipments of dialysis fluid that would come in almost bi-weekly. There was the dialysis machine that could only be located in places close enough to the bathroom to not overstretch the hose to which the patient is attached to overnight. There is the catheter stuck in Monica’s gut that causes debilitating pain anytime it is slightly dislodged when a sudden movement is made. Sometimes, it will hurt from just making normal movement. Picture a piece of plastic rubbing against the inside of your abdomen, and not having any way to manually adjust it. All you can do is wait, and wait, and wait for the pain to go away – for hours. Imagine watching the person you love most in life in agony and not being able to do anything about it.

Dying With Dialysis Kills The Whole Family

For months the side effects and deteriorating mood constantly consumed Monica’s time and thoughts, progressively worsening her health, her spirit, and the spirit of the family, badly. For months, because of the family’s and the doctor’s persistence, she resisted the temptation to stop the treatment. But the wear of these side effects were becoming ever more evident – physically and emotionally. Life was depressing in the Lemus household. Monica wasn’t the only one dying. Her family was dying.

Healing from the Creative Soul

Monica has always loved looking at paintings, but had never tried to paint. Two and a half years ago, out of nowhere, she picked up a paintbrush for the first time in her life. She desperately sought a distraction from the treatment’s side effects.

Then a metamorphosis began! A few weeks after she had started painting, she completed her first piece, Moonlight Lake. While painting it she immersed herself into its creation – mind, body, and soul. We noticed that throughout the entire process, not once had she complained of any pain or nausea. This is something that even Monica herself hadn’t noticed until one of our three daughters mentioned it to her. That is when Tazz the Artista was born.

Moonlight Lake Painting
Moonlight Lake by Tazz the Artista

Without thinking twice she immediately immersed herself into creating her second painting, Heaven Pouring In. The effects were the same. She had become so immersed in learning how to become a better painter, experimenting with new techniques and colors, that her body forgot it felt nausea or pain. Her mood began to improve as well.

Heaven Pouring In Painting
Heaven Pouring In by Tazz the Artista

The Story of Tazz the Artista Couldn’t Be Kept Secret

This immersion into her art has continued for the past two and a half years. Painting after painting continues to emerge from her spirit. This growing collection has grown to the point we finally decided to create the Tazz the Artista Gallery.

While we are all grateful for this collection, the best thing to come from this re-birth was the near elimination of those side effects that had afflicted her and her family so profoundly. Much less pain, much less nausea, the explosion of artistic creativity in the Lemus home, and most importantly, the rebirth of the Lemus family. And that means a whole new honeymoon period.

What’s Next for Tazz the Artista

Tazz the Artista has joined the CTDDS Team, and she wants to work with children from working class families teaching them the love and joy of painting. Through that work she wants to expose more people to the healing effects of the art. The project’s name will be the Gift of Arts Education.

To fund the launch of her project, we have created the The Gift of Arts Education Fund. We also created the Gift of Arts Education page where generous donors can make a donation to the fund and select one of Tazz the Artista’s paintings as a take home gift for a gift amount equal to or exceeding the sales amount of the painting of their choice. These funds will go towards supporting the transformation of a small office space into an amateur art school and gallery for working class children in the city of Inglewood, CA.

The Art Keeps Rolling In

Tazz the Artista continues to paint as part of her healing, and she continues to donate some of her best work to CTD Development Services Inc to support their fundraising efforts.

Visit the TTA Art Gallery – The Comeback Journey web page to view her most recent work.

What’s Next for Monica Lemus?

Today Monica has three healthy, happy, intelligent, and confident kids. Her family is together and stable, and they push her to continue painting every day, because the day she started painting is the day their mother began living once again. She hasn’t stopped since.

We’re not sure where things will end up on the medical front. What we do know is that Monica will continue to live life on her terms. Sixteen years ago, her primary care physician scolded her for getting pregnant, in light of knowing that her illness might leave her future child without a mother at a young age.