Orange was always my least favorite color. Not just my least favorite, I actually hated it.
But recently, orange started popping up everywhere in my life. The color and the fruit.
The first time was while watching a youtube video of a man named Dr. Wayne Dyer. He asked the audience, “If you squeeze an orange, what comes out?” Wondering if this was a trick question, the audience sheepishly replied, “Orange juice?” He said, “Yes! Orange juice! If you squeeze an orange, what comes out is WHAT’S INSIDE.”
He continued, “The same goes for people. When you are placed under pressure, what comes out is what’s inside. Whether it be anger, sadness, resentment, bitterness, fear, self-loathing, whatever it may be, what comes out is what’s inside.”
This made me stop in my tracks. For many months, I’ve been on a quest to find inner peace, but I had not yet identified the rotten apple inside of me. The rotten apple (or the ‘orange juice’ in Dr. Dyer’s metaphor) being the emotion that is bottled up most days until you’re placed under too much pressure to keep it inside anymore.
That day, I made note of what’s inside of me that I need to work on.
Orange with Endo
My second run-in with orange came when I was looking into alternative ways to heal my endometriosis.
Endometriosis (“endo” for short) is a chronic disease where tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus and can cause massive amounts of pain, infertility and can cause damage to other healthy tissue and organs. There is no known cause or cure for endo. An estimated 1 in 10 women suffer from endometriosis, and my mother and grandmother are in that 10% of women.
This past June, on our 1 year wedding anniversary, my husband and I were in the process of miscarrying for the second time. This spurred many medical visits to figure out what was going on. Sure enough, Endo started to rear its ugly head. Ultrasounds from my first miscarriage showed that I had a large endometrioma on my left ovary, and ultrasounds from my second miscarriage showed that it was growing.
After my second miscarriage, my OB/GYN (and I) decided to move forward with a laparoscopy surgery to remove my endometrioma before I try to conceive again.
In this surgery, in layman’s terms, while you’re knocked out from anaesthesia, they blow up your tummy with gas to create a dome to operate inside. Then, they make 3 or 4 incisions on your tummy to allow a camera and some grabbing and cutting tools to enter your abdomen. There are a few different methods of removing the endometrial tissue, some use laser technology, but I’m having an excision surgery, where the surgeon carefully cuts the endometrial tissue off of the healthy tissue. What’s crazy to me is that the surgeon can only see what they’re doing by viewing the camera’s monitor! Talk about dexterity.
The idea is: if this endometrial tissue is removed, perhaps it’ll help me keep a pregnancy, it’ll slow down the process of the endo attacking my healthy organs, and it’ll also help reduce the pain I’ve had in my abdomen.
I don’t know if any of this will work, and perhaps it won’t, for some women it doesn’t, for others it can make their pain worse, and of course there are risks of things going wrong, like organs being accidentally punctured, infections, and death. My feelings on that, I’ll talk about later.
As I said earlier, my second run-in with orange was when I was looking for alternative ways to heal my endo.
Living in Northern California, particularly in Marin County, woo-woo new age spiritualism is as common as the common cold. If you sneeze, instead of a “bless you”, you might get a “namaste” and a recommendation of a good tincture.
For the last 10 years that I’ve been living in Marin County, I feel like I’ve warded off most of the woo-woo except for falling in love with yoga and entertaining the concepts of feng shui and astrology. However, after my second miscarriage, I was open to all options that could heal my body, including options with no scientific backing but also contain no harm in trying.
Something I’ve heard of, but never looked into was chakras, the supposed 7 energy centers of the body that can become blocked if we’re not in energetic harmony and balance. In a single day of panicking about my endo and upcoming surgery, I started learning about chakras and how the sacral chakra, located just below the navel, impacts the female reproductive organs. I started to read about how I could heal my sacral chakra and what did I find? Among other methods, all sources say to embrace orange.
Of course it’s orange! I hate orange.
But I was willing to entertain the idea that my hatred of orange was part of the problem.
I thought, “Alright, I’m going to use orange essence, I’m going to do yoga poses that apparently help heal my sacral chakra, and I’m going to freakin’ wear orange for the first time in my life!”
I bought a couple orange yoga tops and sweaters and shopped my way to healing! If nothing else, I have the placebo effect going for me, right?
Slice Of Life
My third orange experience was on the first day of Autumn, 2019, exactly one week before my big surgery. I was committed to doing yoga everyday and following a strict non-inflammatory diet to keep my endo calm.
While I was at my local grocer, I bought one single orange. Just one. I hadn’t eaten an orange in years! Sure, I’ve had lots of orange juice, but haven’t eaten an actual orange in who knows how long. It’s too much work! You get orange peel all under your nails, your fingers get sticky, you definitely can’t be scanning your smart phone while peeling an orange. It’s a high maintenance fruit! But oranges are anti-inflammatory, and I didn’t have many non-inflammatory food options, so I got an orange.
When I finally sat down to eat my orange, I sat with no distractions: no music, no tv, no phone activity, no podcast on, no phone call and no conversation with anyone in person. I was totally alone peeling and eating this orange.
Since I really don’t like orange skin, I took my time peeling off all of the spongy, white inner skin that I could, and I finally made my way to the slices, the beautiful, juicy, sweet, perfectly shaped organic orange slices. I dug out the large seeds that were visible, and took my first bite of this sweet orange.
The first person to eat an orange must have been thrown 4 feet. Sour and sweet, juicy, and tangy – and quenching! Like liquid candy wrapped in one of those edible wrappers you find in Chinatown. Who knew your tastebuds could dance this way!
I took that first bite of my first orange in a very long time and then you know what I did? Every next slice I ate was a less-enthused extension of that first bite. Each bite got more and more familiar until the newness was lost and the excitement dissipated completely. After all, it’s just a freakin orange.
Until… I got to the very last slice, that’s when I realized: this was my last slice!
I had eaten probably a dozen slices and now I’m at my last. So many of the previous slices I took for granted, as if there were plenty coming, I had no need to fear being without, but finally I was about to be without. I wasn’t full, it was a small orange. My orange was almost gone and I took it for granted. A flood of thoughts came over me in a split second. Why was I most appreciative during my first bite, and my last bite most regretful?
Eating this orange one week before my surgery felt too symbolic of my current fears. My biggest fear being that this week could be my last. My second biggest fear being this week could be my last week of relative health compared to unforeseen complications that could arise from this surgery.
Earlier this year, my step-cousin, Leah, was pulled off life support following a botched surgery. She was just 5 years older than me, she was 38 years old.
Being the morbid rationalist I am, I looked up botched endometriosis surgeries online and found one story of a woman who went in for this routine surgery and had her bowel punctured. She was supposed to be released the same day, but ended up having to remain in the hospital for 1 whole month. Another young woman went in for a laparoscopy, but while she was under, her doctors decided to change it to a laparotomy, a surgery with one of the highest mortality rates. It involves making a large slice from the belly button down and pulling organs outside of the body. The doctors ended up finding nothing and it was deemed unnecessary by other more experienced doctors.
The lack of control over the outcome is something we all face in this experience called life, but our awareness of it becomes heightened when preparing to go under the knife.
As I ate the last slice of my orange, I was trying to experience it like my first slice, full of awe and wonderment. I thought of how marvelous it is to be alive and how grateful I am to have today, regardless of what’s to come.
My surgery is at 10am PT on Monday, Sept 30th, 2019. I appreciate any and all thoughts, prayers, blessings, namastes, positive astrological alignments, wearing of the color orange, eating of oranges, and any other method of transferring positive and healing vibes.
By the way, after I ate the last slice of my orange, I had to spit out a large seed.
The Tao Te Ching says, “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”
Photos by my husband, Evan Davies.
Fun fact: he bought me navel oranges for this photoshoot 🙂