By Pili Farrulla

COUNTRY: Puerto Rico

DISEASE: Crohn’s Disease, Psoriasis & Rheumatoid Arthritis

FORMAT: Painting


The painting is triptych or three paintings in one. The first painting shows the battle with joint pain that Rheumatoid Arthritis patients face. The second painting depicts Crohn’s Disease and Psoriasis – conditions that need heart and courage to fight. The third painting represents all three conditions. The transparent or gray person represents the emptiness and confusion felt when a patient is diagnosed. The middle person shows how as years pass, patients improve physically and mentally. All have heads held high, signalling their determination in overcoming obstacles.

The full-colored person shows an empowered and healthier patient. The three stripes represent each disease. Throughout the paintings, the color gray depicts the pain and emptiness in their lives.


Patient with Rheumatoid Arthritis: “At the moment of my diagnosis I felt like an outcast. I’m a true warrior who has been fighting an uphill battle that most of you can’t imagine. Now I feel very positive and I see the light at every step of my disease.”

Patient with Crohn’s Disease: “During this long journey of my disease I have found that my family’s and my physician’s amazing support has made it possible [...] continue the story

Kathy’s Hope

By Kathryn Cooke

Medium used: Mixed medium – found wood objects, natural dyed fiber, hand stitched dolls, ink drawings

Artist Biography

I have lived much of my adult life in Canmore a small town on the eastern edge of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I will graduate from the Alberta College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Arts in April 2014. This follows a Bachelor of Science and a Medical Degree with a specialty in Pediatrics. I have been a practicing pediatrician for twenty-four years but have chosen to expand my mind and spirit by formally pursuing a study of fine arts. I am a material based artist with an emphasis on the tactile and the touch connecting the body to the mind and ultimately if the heart is open, to the spirit.

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

Kathy’s Hope is a soft mixed medium sculpture, with an intense bodily feel. There is a narrative describing the relationship between a mother with distortions and limited mobility due to her illness of Rheumatoid Arthritis, and her daughter who is youthfully energetic. Their bond is natural and strong and carries them forth despite [...] continue the story

Is Seeing the Doctor 400 Times Too Much?

This is a cautionary story of how it can be expensive in time as well as money to know too little about your own health and treatments.

The 400 visits in the title is what it is because for seven years I went to the doctor’s office for weekly injections of methotrexate. Year after year I dealt with snow, rain, ice storms, paying for parking, dealing with the difficult receptionist and wasting time waiting. The only positive side is that I now know my doctor very well.

After that endurance contest I can say that for me the biggest advantage to being involved in a clinical trial was a conversation with a trials nurse who said “Why aren’t you doing the injecting yourself?” A classic “Had I But Known” was my answer. If I had had the faintest hint that I could have been doing it on my own I would have. This author was one of the queens of the HIBK (Had I But Known) genre That marked the last time I had someone else take care of my injections. Now with social media, people who are connected to other patients can find that answer much faster than I did.

Thinking of how many [...] continue the story

How To Develop Chronic Patient Syndrome

There are many stories about waste in healthcare. Some are ridiculous and some are based on misunderstandings and lack of knowledge.

Here’s my waste story: While I was being treated for RA, injectable methotrexate was prescribed for me because the pills caused too much nausea. The shots were intramuscular and I assumed that I needed to have a doctor administer the injections just like with gold shots.

So every Wednesday afternoon I would leave work early, go to the doctors office, park and wait (and wait). This went on for seven years. That means 364+ extra doctor visits and at least 1000 hours of my time that was wasted. Not to even mention the white knuckle winter trips.

My rheumatologist then happened to suggest a clinical trial. As part of the start up process for it I met with a nurse for an interview and in the course of the discussion she asked why I did not inject myself. Thank goodness she did.

I had seen at least 10 different doctors in those 7 years, allowing for travel, locums and vacations and not one of them said a word about this possibility. At last I was spared the weekly visit!

That is why I suggest [...] continue the story

It’s All About Control

10 ways to maintain a sense of Control with a chronic illness

It’s easier to cope with chronic illness if you feel that you have some control over your life and your health. Feeling that everything is just spinning away from you makes life more difficult. Here are my first and best so far ideas. More suggestions are always welcome for a list like this. Please leave them in the comments. We all love to hear tips.

With chronic illness you are forced to be your health manager so it is up to you to gather information and to make better decisions. You need to learn skills for this complex task as you go along, because the days of good health and no worries are behind you, though there is always the hope of having them return. As you go along you will find a management style you are comfortable with.

The first suggestion I would make is to join an online group or community.  They can be a great source of information and encouragement.  It’s harder to find a physical real-time group than one that is on-line. It is also easier to spare the time for online efforts. Yahoo has a more old-school [...] continue the story