Oh no, here we go again!

It is now May 1st. Sjogren’s Awareness Month is over with for another year. I’m so relieved that I don’t have to think about it anymore!

Yes, of course I am being sarcastic. Anyone who suffers with a chronic illness is well “aware” of the effects of the illness every month, week, day, and sometimes minute of the year. It is not just Sjogren’s patients who have to live with on-going symptoms, but many people who have autoimmune and other illnesses.

Type 1 diabetics cannot just “let it go” and not think about their bodies, symptoms, medications, and self-care. If a Type 1 Diabetic doesn’t monitor their blood sugar level the consequences can indeed be dire. It is essential they are vigilant in monitoring themselves several times a day.

May is Celiac Awareness Month, likewise for another autoimmune disease, Lupus, which is sometimes called a “sister disease” to Sjogren’s because they share so many similarities. In fact, this month in Canada, we recognize 38 different health conditions. Some have an awareness day, some a week, others devote the entire month to public education and awareness.

BrainCancer.org-Go-Gray-in-May

Gluten awareness

Mental Health Month

World Lupus Day

Celiac patients must be vigilant in ensuring they do not consume gluten. For them, eating gluten-free is not a fad or choice, but a medically essential task. Most people eat three meals a day, possibly some snacks. Imagine having to be concerned at every single meal if there might be gluten ingredients in your food, which could trigger horrible gastrointestinal symptoms as well as other systemic symptoms if accidently ingested.

I understand “awareness” months are really not for the people afflicted with any of these illnesses. Likewise caregivers of children, or adults who have chronic and / or terminal illnesses, including mental health issues, or lifelong conditions such as cerebral palsy or autism hardly need any reminder whatsoever of what is involved with having such a diagnosis, its effects on the individual as well as the people who care for them.

So though you may get “sick” of hearing about these various illnesses as we go through the year and they each take turns being condition of the month, remember that no one is more “sick and tired” of them than the person who has the condition. Remember a little understanding on your part can go a long way, someone you love will love you for it!

It’s REAL! My first exhibit / publication!

013002Ventured to Edmonton with one of my sons on Thursday evening to attend the opening reception of the InSight 2 – Engaging the Health Humanities International Exhibition. So exciting to see my paintings and poems displayed alongside so many other intriguing exhibits by talented artists and health professionals.

When we first arrived, we wandered though the UofA (Fine Arts Building) FAB Gallery viewing all the work, but admittedly my eye was on the look out for my exhibit. I was a little panicked when I thought we’d been through it all and I could not find my paintings / poems, then I remembered we had not been to the very first area near the entrance…..sure enough they they were! Whew. For a minute or two I did think it really all had been just a dream!

I was also thrilled to read some of the same thoughts I had expressed in my initial submission, and 150 word “abstract” about my exhibit, being expressed in the keynote speaker, Dr. Alan Bleakley’s introduction in the publication that is also part of this exhibition / symposium. As an advocate of the health humanities / arts and medicine working hand-in-hand, he readily acknowledges that there can be “well-being without being well.”

I was so grateful to be able to attend the reception to see my “Blue-Green Elixir” up on the FAB 011012Gallery wall, being visited by fellow artists, writers, doctors, health professionals, students, and the public at large. Thank you so much to Graeme for ensuring I made it to the reception, and Shannon who was very much with me in spirit every step of the way! Love you both for knowing how important this was to me, without me having to tell you!

“Blue-Green Elixir” at InSight2 starting May 14, 2013!

 I am excited to announce, starting tomorrow I will have an exhibit of 4 poems and 4 abstract paintings in the “InSight2 – Engaging the Health Humanities” exhibit at the University of Alberta FAB (Fine Arts Building) Gallery in Edmonton. InSight2_Invite_digitalThe gallery is closed Sunday / Monday / Holidays and open Tuesday to Friday 10-5 and Saturdays 2-5. This is the first ever exhibit and publication of my work. I am happy to share with you the following abstract describing my work:

“Blue-Green Elixir”   It is my aim to express creatively my experiences, thus making tangible through artistic expression my emotions, thoughts, and memories involving illness. The work is a sampling of documentation of my search for “well-being”, when “being well” is not an expected outcome. In addition to the insight producing the art has provided me, it is my desire that it may also provide the community at large, other patients, and especially health professionals, with insight and understanding of what one patient may experience during their medical journey.  Improved mental well-being throughout the course of incurable, chronic illnesses has become viable for me because of my engagement in artistic endeavors. Hopefully my positive experience will resonate with other patients, and also encourage health professionals, if not to “prescribe” at least perhaps to “advise” their patients of the possibilities of art and medicine working hand in hand.