Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Life Through Someone Else’s Eyes

I’ve been feeling kind of down lately and there’s a lot I’ve been trying to deal with.  I’ve needed a pick me up. 

I’ve allowed other people to treat me badly, and what I’m realizing is that I don’t need those people in my life.  I can make myself feel bad about myself all on my own.  I don’t need other people to do it for me, especially when I don’t deserve it. 

Through all of my traveling this past fall, I had a lot of amazing experiences, and it was the only time that I’ve really been happy in the last several months.  Two have been particularly special.

The first is that, because I gave an ePatient Ignite talk at Stanford Medicine X this year, Stanford sent a documentarian to New York to videotape me, sort of chronicling a day in the life of living with chronic illness, for an introduction video that they played before I went on stage to speak. 

I have to be honest, I was really nervous about this.  The last time I had a video camera in my face, I was in sixth grade, working on a group video project, and every time the camera was turned on me, all I could do was laugh.

It’s also a bit stressful to let a stranger so intimately into your life without really knowing them ahead of time.

We were able to coordinate so that the documentarian came to my doctor’s appointment with me.  I had to get special permission from the hospital and my doctor, but I think it was great to see that aspect of my life. 

In the end, it was an amazing, adrenaline-filled day.  And I definitely made a new friend in the process.  Filming with the video person actually felt really natural, and we bonded and talked a lot in the moments that we weren’t filming.   

So I wanted to share that film with you.  I was trying to wait to share it along with my Ignite talk, but I’m not sure when that is going to go up. 

The other experience was becoming a member of Regina Holliday’s Walking Gallery of Healthcare.

I’ve been wanting to be a part of it for many years, and the day finally arrived. 

Coincidently, the blazer arrived right as I was leaving for my last conference of 2015, so I feverishly opened the box and took it with me.  I wore it, and will continue to wear it, with pride.

I had sent Regina some ideas about my story and what I thought that might look like through art, but I never could have imagined that my blazer would turn out the way it did.

The painting is of me, traversing a ladder.  Half of me is wearing a graduation gown and the other half of me is wearing a hospital gown.  The ladder evolves into two rungs, one that is made of diplomas and the other that is made of bones. 

It’s so profound.  And it tells my story so perfectly.  I’ve been saying for the last eight years that I’ve been living two lives and working two full time jobs, being a student and being chronically ill. 

It’s nice to hear that I’m an inspiration to others, even though that makes me a bit uncomfortable.  But it’s nice to be able to see myself through someone else’s eyes and genuinely like, and am proud of, what I see. 

It’s a pick-me-up I really needed, and I’m so glad that I can view these as often as I need to, to remind me of how I got here and why I do what I do.  

1 comment:

  1. he video is fantastic! I am so proud of you - great way to tell your story and linking it to that bigger issue of being chronically ill in grad school. I wish I'd had someone like you when I was in grad school.

    PS excellent jacket!