Presence

By Zakhari Halas

Medium used: Watercolor and pencil crayon

Artist Biography

Zak Halas an Illustrator and Designer studying at the Alberta College of Art and Design. His practice mainly focusses on comics, illustrated books, and other forms of narrative art. Film and film theory influence much of his work, drawing upon his four years of experience in the Film Studies program at Concordia University in Montreal. He is currently in the process of writing and drawing his own graphic novel, and is spending his time at school experimenting with a variety of media and styles.

Using the artist’s words, summarize the artwork and how they feel it reflects the patient’s moment of meaning

For this piece I wanted to explore the emotional effects that inflammatory diseases had on my conversation partner. Our interview revealed that it was during his childhood that he felt the most impact from these maladies, and I felt that this would be an excellent focal point for the project. I was particularly drawn to the invasive nature that his initial care had. There was a sense of claustrophobia, and a desire for normalcy in his described experiences. I wanted to show that these diseases presented an overwhelming unknown presence to a [...] continue the story

Trapped Within

By Micaela Blondin de Boer

Medium used: Digital

Artist Biography

Micaela is in her final year of study at the Alberta College of Art and Design in the Character Design program. Dramatic costuming and fantasy environments influence her; so much of her art reflects her imagination. She is passionate about writing and focuses her art and design on novels she is working on. Micaela is passionate about creating traditional looking paintings through digital mediums.

Using the artist’s words, summarize the artwork and how they feel it reflects the patient’s moment of meaning

The overall feeling I got from her was her sense of loss and loneliness that came with coping with psoriasis. Remaining isolated from those who do not understand the disease; she was, in a sense, trapped within her home and her body. There were many years that she gave up, and a prevailing sadness and depression became the norm. The inability to speak openly about psoriasis without fear of judgment hampered her ability to maintain connections and feel free from her disease.

Using the artist’s words, describe how they felt about this experience

‘Trapped Within’ is a visual representation of her feelings towards her psoriasis and the experience she had with the disease. The bands [...] continue the story

Stepping Back From the Edge

By Bill Ventres 12/16/2011

  I can walk.

It’s not pretty. It’s not easy. It’s not without assistance. But I can walk.

Six weeks ago, I wasn’t able to walk. A few days before that, I’d begun a visit to the city of Antigua, in Guatemala, and was enjoying its colonial ambiance with friends.

Then, after a brief bout of sore throat, I contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that afflicts the peripheral nervous system. My body’s defense system, its antibodies triggered by the offending virus, had decided to attack the nerves in my arms, legs and trunk.

Upon awaking at 7:30 am on November 2, 2011, I could barely get out of bed. On rubbery legs, I made my way to the bedroom door to call for help. Six hours later, I was 99.9 percent paralyzed from the neck down.

In twenty-five years of practice as a family physician, I had never seen a case of Guillain-Barre. And in all honesty, I couldn’t remember any statistics associated with the illness, such as the fact that it affects about two in 100,000 people. I only remembered that it came on quickly and could have devastating effects, which I was experiencing already.

The consulting physician at Antigua’s small private hospital [...] continue the story

Invisible Illnesses Are For Real

Being confined to a wheelchair it was obvious to those I met that I was not as able-bodied as others. However, people living with chronic pain or illness often don’t look any different from those around them. It is difficult for people to understand the struggle you experience when you don’t look sick or in pain.

My second bout with a rather rare autoimmune disease required that I take heavy doses of prednisone and chemotherapy. This was not an option. The autoimmune disease would have attached my kidneys and lungs and eventually it would have led to death. When I told people I was on chemotherapy the first thing they said was, “What kind of cancer do you have?” Cancer is a scary word, but by no means the only life threatening reason to have chemotherapy.

This is true of many of us. We experience “invisible illness.” What experiences do we share in this invisible universe?

We may experience guilt, embarrassment, and isolation. We may feel it is our fault that we got sick or that our bodies broke down in some way – as if it’s a personal failing on our part. We live in a culture that worships wellness. It’s okay [...] continue the story