Health Mentor – Season One – Episode 3 – Zal

By: Zal Press

The word “stigma” makes my blood boil.

The session started out with questions about my hospital discharge experiences. For the first 6-8 years of my illness I was in and out of hospital like a revolving door. On discharge I would be visited by a dietician who would give me a standard “low residue” list of foods. Basically stuff to stay away from that would get stuck in my gut and give me an obstruction. The amusing part of this list is that it was the same one year after year and became increasingly blurry as a result of generations of copied copies. I saw this same sheet for almost 20 years.

At some point in the conversation we started on the subject of access and equity of treatment. My medication costs $33,000 a year and I constantly worry about continuing availability of coverage and access to treatment. What will happen to me when I turn 65 in 3.5 years and the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan takes over my medication coverage? Will a debt laden government refuse coverage? Will a bureaucrat decide that it would be cheaper for the system to do surgery than medicate? I worry about those suffering [...] continue the story

Ethan’s Story: Hockey, Guts and Diabetes

Published on Sep 14, 2012

Ethan tells us what its like to grow up with Type 1 diabetes from a very young age. Great and powerful insights for people living with diabetes, their families and health care professionals. This film has been used as curriculum for the University Of Toronto medical program. Funded by The York University Nursing Academy. Directed by Robert Hawke.

Health Mentor – Season One – Episode 1 – Jennifer

By: Jennifer Ladrillo

For years following my diagnosis, I believed that the only way I could find a job and truly be able to build a genuine, solid foundation for my career, was if I kept my “disability” a secret. I thought that in doing so, I would be protected from people judging me as “un-fit”, and from pitying me in any way. Now though, 14 years later, I am not only happy, but eager to tell my story to people (strangers at that!), openly and honestly – no holds barred!

How had I come to be here?

A girlfriend and past co-worker of mine told me she was inspired to take the Health Mentorship course because of me; as she had seen the obstacles I faced balancing my health, work, social life, and everything in between. After taking the course she approached me, asking whether or not I would be interested in taking part as a mentor – the timing could not have been more perfect. I had made great strides from grieving the loss of my old self, and not only accepting, but actually embracing the life I now had. The challenges I had faced and always struggled not to be [...] continue the story

Stubborn Head, Stubborn Bowel

Posted: 02 Jan 2013 10:36 AM PST

I don’t know about you but I really don’t like giving up. I have always been stubborn but ever since my Crohn’s diagnosis I think I have become even more stubborn. I think I lie more too, nothing grand just little white lies about how well I am. These lies are not to mislead others; they are aimed at misleading myself.

If I tell myself I am well enough to do something then most of the time I will do it. My stubbornness and self lies get me through most situations. I’m not one for being defeated, so if I have a task to do, I get on with it regardless. This is not always a good way to live. I think I am scared of falling down some kind of slippery slope of laziness, as if my independence is at stake.

If I can’t do one thing due to my illness, will I refuse to do another? Will it trigger a domino effect? As a sufferer of a chronic illness with no chance of a respite I have plenty of valid reasons why I should go easier on myself but I can’t. I will not [...] continue the story

Attitude

I’ve come to believe that seriously sick people are often subject to some very interesting comments from well-intentioned non-sick people. They are frequently inspired by #platitudes from self-help-books, Google chat rooms (heaven forbid), or beliefs that have been around for so long that they are a natural part of common discourse.

To be fair, when we are confronted with the uncomfortable task of talking to a sick person, our conversation can easily become a pre-programmed response that make us feel better for having said something uplifting, positive, sympathetic, or socially acceptable. It’s antiphonal, like the “god bless you” after someone sneezes.

And, for the record, I have probably said every single one of them myself at one time or another.

But as the recipient of them after my diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy for metastatic primary peritoneal cancer, I felt like I was listening to some foreign language. I have even questioned if I really said some of those things that now make me feel like Charlie Brown listening to his mother’s distorted ..wah,..wah…wah…

I’ve heard excited reports from people who said they knew a person who had exactly (strong emphasis on “exactly”) what I have and “she’s been just fine for 20 years.”

There was [...] continue the story