This is my first post as a guest blogger and I would like to introduce myself:
I’m a visual artist with severe, full-body chronic pain. I put these two things right in the first sentence because each is a very central part of me and each greatly influences how I respond to the world around me. In my daily life, I always look for what is artful in small things and in grand. Seeking striking images and beauty has always given me joy and strength. Career opportunities and physical abilities have dropped away over the years, but my artist’s eye remains. When my pain interferes in the creation of my own work, I still have my deep appreciation for the richness that others bring to the world with their art. I find the Disability Arts movement particularly thrilling with all of its invention and daring.
27 years of chronic pain has changed my body and influenced who I am. With pain as my guide, I have to respond to the world in terms of how well I can negotiate it. I chose my paths and my activities based on how much energy I have, how steep the climb, how long the walk and how I will be impacted later. Pain muddles my head and often makes thinking so difficult that at times I am silent though I would love to speak. On the bright side, being in pain this long has sensitized me to other’s struggles and I’m more compassionate and patient because of it. It shadows my every move. The pain is part of me as surely as the art.
Obviously, there are other things in my life besides art and my aching body. I live in Vancouver, a beautiful city on the west coast of Canada, with my partner of 9 years, our orange cat and wee Papillon dog. We all get along quite marvelously (with the help of a bit of counseling, the occasional taking of space and excellent cat nip). I’m rather urban and enjoy city life with its variety and buzz, but also seek out forests and fresh air.
I’ve been doing my two blogs since July ’07. One is a humorous look at the weird things people say to those who have a chronic illness and the other focuses on my art and my experience with chronic pain. Blogging has really given me a good creative shove and has connected me with people all over the planet whose experiences are really similar to mine. It has given me some distance from being overwhelmed by all the things I “should do” for my pain and enabled me to look at just how absurd it all is sometimes. I’ve found it extremely rewarding to give people a laugh or two. Blogging expands my world.
With my Ouch! blogging, I’ll write about things like my hilarious adventures with chronic illness and its fans; doctors with Arrogant Specialist Syndrome (ASS for short); a gimp’s life in the slow lane in a fast-paced city; weird medical tests and Disability Culture. I’m going to include images with my writing as well. I’m really pleased to add my voice to the amazing choir of crips here on Ouch!