Refocusing The Lens – Moment

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. Moment, By Lau

Artist’s Statement

When I feel depressed, I want to be alone. I want nobody around me and I don’t want to be seen. This could be for only a few minutes or many hours. I feel like I need this time alone to disconnect myself from the world. A wall in front of me, so people can’t see me and I can’t see them will do to. But then I need moments of connection. Both are important. Select a thumbnail to see a photo and its story.

Refocusing The Lens – Scattered dreams

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. Scattered dreams, By Aidan

Artist’s Statement

Gambling is and has been an inherent part of my life. Whether it can be blamed on genetics (my Grandfather was an avid gambler and actually won the second top prize in Lotto Super 7), addiction, or a way to reduce boredom and depression has yet to be determined. Gambling addiction is a serious problem that affects about 3% of Canadians and can be a leading cause of depression, other mental health issues, and suicide. Gambling and mental health are tightly intertwined. There are high highs and low lows. Winning $2000 is a definite high while losing all of your ProLine tickets [...] continue the story

Refocusing The Lens – Trapped

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. Trapped, By Aidan

Artist’s Statement

This antique elevator was the last thing I saw before my freedom was taken from me. I remember being very scared when I entered the elevator to visit the mental health offices at St. Josephs Health Centre. I was admitted to the mental health ward (7M) after my visit with the psychologist there. This elevator represents the frightening experience I had with my mental health episode and how trapped I felt by it all. I am thankful that I no longer have to see this ancient elevator as I am now an outpatient, evidence that I am moving forward on my journey and [...] continue the story

Houston, I have a problem

I went down to Houston two weeks ago or my annual visit with my endocrinologist down there who tests me every year for my hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. Canada does not accept the T3 and T4 hormone levels for “normal” that are accepted in the US so millions of Canadians are walking around thinking their thyroid levels are normal when in fact they are either high or low. As a result, I have my dosages adjusted by Dr. Arem in Houston plus he prescribes bioidentical T3 supplementation that is unavailable in Canada. I recently applied to OHIP to cover the blood work and consultation in the US, which they denied.

If I had not gone to Houston, I would not have found out last week that I now have a new health problem – hypercalcemia and parathyroidism. Calcium is being leached from my bones and spilling into my blood stream due to non-cancerous tumours on my parathyroid glands which sit behind the thyroid, which is causing me no end of symptoms that I associated with my primary thyroid problem.

All this to say that if it were not for going to Houston and paying $3K out of my own [...] continue the story

Power Equality: Not Even on the Radar

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Late last year I was pleased to be invited to attend a conference called “Reaching the Summit: Leading the way from Interprofessional Education to Practice”. Having patients included with educators and practitioners meant that the healthcare stakeholders sitting around the table were representative of more of the members involved in the health team.

It was a little disconcerting when I looked back at the list of Summit Registrants prior to writing this post and saw that under the title and the occupation columns the patients were all listed as “Patient Guests” in both columns. That seems to imply that our place is not secure – maybe it isn’t a given that patients will always be invited to participate.

We’re making the right connections At the event a large part of the afternoon was spent in breakout sessions, each one with a patient representative. The teams were composed of people working in hospital administration, in medical education, clinicians, allied professionals and, as at the IDEO Design Challenge, the variety of opinions led to strong and useful conclusions and strategies.

At one point in the session I commented that the very words ‘inter-professional collaboration’ on their own seem to exclude patients. With that [...] continue the story

Deb Maskens – Life on a Clinical Trial

Uploaded on Nov 5, 2009

Deb Maskens talks about how she is fighting stage 4 metastatic kidney cancer through participating in a clinical trial. Deb Maskens is the Vice Chair of Kidney Cancer Canada.

For more information about Kidney Cancer Canada visit their website or connect on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

 

LymeLight – The Story Of Professional Freeskier Angeli VanLaanen Living With Lyme Disease

From NEU PRODUCTIONS

LymeLight is a Lyme Disease awareness film that serves as an inspirational story for those who have fought to overcome chronic illness and physical setbacks. It delivers a powerful message of the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle on a daily basis.

Angeli VanLaanen is one of the top female freeskiers in the world and a well rounded athlete with expertise in all areas of her sport. She has been featured on the cover of Skiing Magazine and in renowned skiing publications such as Powder Magazine and Freeskier Magazine. Angeli has also competed in high level halfpipe events such as the X-Games and Dew Tour.

LymeLight is a 30 minute documentary film based on Angeli VanLaanen’s battle with Lyme Disease. Angeli, now 27 years old, started showing Lyme symptoms at the tender age of 10. After developing a chronic sinus infection, fainting spells, dyslexia and fatigue, Angeli faced over a decade of misdiagnoses. Through the years, her symptoms fluctuated and progressed into a debilitating chronic illness. In the summer of 2009 VanLaanen was sleeping for multiple days at a time and experiencing crippling body pain. Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection spread by the bite of an infected Black [...] continue the story

Trickster, Dancer, Healer: Life Lessons in Chronic Medical Condition Management

I’ve checked my wireless continuous glucose monitor and adjusted the basal insulin rate on my pump accordingly for the activity level that I anticipate over the next 2 hours. I change from my running shoes into my weathered, muddy barn boots, grab the halter, a lead, a couple of treats and a dressage whip. The sky is silver-gray this morning as I approach the gate to the paddock, and the ground is wet. I call his name and he lifts his big white head and turns it to face me. The rest of him doesn’t move, just that long sinuous neck. He looks at me for a moment and then drops his head and goes back to eating hay from the flake at his feet. Knowing he will not come to me today, I open the gate and set out across the field to him, squishing through a mixture of mud, shit, weeds and straw that is wet from this morning’s rain, sinking to my ankles at every step. You can’t always have what you want when you want it, and sometimes you have to work harder for it.

The smell of barn swells up around me as I make my [...] continue the story

Happily Ever After My Diagnosis

On December 15th, 2009, I was matched up on eHarmony with a man named David (for the SECOND time – long story, I’ll explain later!!!). Being tired of waiting for the men to make the first move and message me first, I sent him my initial questions. I was a little surprised when he responded, but he did and shortly after that (January 23rd of 2010 to be exact) we started dating.

About a year later, in January of 2011, the symptoms started. It began with diarrhea and rapidly advanced to severe rectal bleeding. I told David that I was having some digestive issues, but didn’t mention the blood (I mean, who wants to tell their boyfriend about their bathroom habits!?). I thought it was a tummy bug on top of vicious hemorrhoids, so I ignored it. I started going to the bathroom 20+ times a day. Sometimes those bathroom visits would produce nothing but pools of blood in the bottom of the toilet. I finally went to the doctor at the end of January and by Valentine’s Day of 2011 I had my diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis.

As I’ve browsed the message boards and support groups, I am overwhelmed with the [...] continue the story

Being a Patient Past Present & Future

By Kristen Knott

Written November 21, 2014

A year ago today I received my 6th and final chemo infusion. One breast, hairless head to toe, fatigued, sore and emotionally drained, I was fed up with being a cancer patient. The light at the end of the tunnel seemed almost out of view.

Now a year later, the anniversary has passed uneventfully with the usual mix of entertaining teenagers, both off for a PA day, addressing client emails and meeting a deadline for my Humber creative writing course; yet the entire time I quietly celebrated that I am no longer a patient. I question however, if I will ever stop fully being a patient in my head, as the role has profoundly changed who I am, and how I now approach my life.

As a cancer patient there was a sense of achievement and pride as I met and endured each treatment milestone, although I struggled with the lack of control over the present and future state of my health, it forced me to look hard, at my own mortality, an utterly terrifying notion to me. My body had been hijacked by cancer and I was at the mercy of this invisible enemy that only [...] continue the story