Choose to have fun

By John Huynh

My name is John, and I have Neurofibromatosis – Type 1.

At an early age my mother knew there was something different about me.

My family doctor knew I had NF but did not say anything because “nothing could be done about it”. Another doctor formally diagnosed me in 1987. Neurofibromatosis was a scary and unfamiliar word at the time and my mother was devastated.

School can be an unpleasant when you are different. I remember classmates calling me names such as “shit stain” and “lumpy neck”. I hated changing clothes in gym class because of my café-au-lait spots and remember going home in tears because of the teasing.

My mother treated me like a normal kid. I was allowed to go outside to play, and grounded when I did something wrong.

In high school the teasing subsided, except for one student who called me “bee stings” all year. I no longer cried, but it still hurt. In grade 11 we moved to the suburbs, a fresh start. I made new friends and started to fit in. All was well, or so I thought.

In May 1996, I started noticing pain when I walked. I lost my balance and fell unexpectedly. My friend laughed [...] continue the story

Itchy and Scratchy Lessons Learned

By Preet Bhogal

I went through a lot of versions of this piece. I narrated it, wrote it longhand, typed it on my laptop, even jotted down notes on my phone but nothing felt right. I thought of how I wanted to say it then questioned myself and started over completely. I took a lot of breaks to check Facebook, the latest celebrity gossip, and watch reruns of the Simpsons. I even took a break from taking a break to read up on the psychology of procrastination. During this whole process all I really learned were trivialities about Facebook friends and celebrities, and that I have way too many episodes of The Simpsons memorized.

I still had not written a damn thing about my experience as a patient with a lifelong skin condition.

And I have a lot to write about because I have over thirty years of experience as a patient suffering from a chronic skin condition. I mean, the first symptoms of my eczema appeared when Joe Clark was Prime Minister! That was a pretty long time ago. The Simpsons weren’t even in reruns! There were new episodes of The Jeffersons! Madonna’s first album wasn’t even out yet!

There is so much [...] continue the story