Breaking The Silence: Destigmatizing Medical Conditions

Breaking The Silence: Destigmatizing Medical Conditions

About This Series

Living with a chronic or life-threatening illness brings a whole host of challenges. Oftentimes, these challenges can be invisible. This makes it harder for others to be compassionate and helpful. People who experience medical issues can feel like their life is out of their control, which can make it really difficult for them to reach out for help.

The goal of this series was to raise awareness about medical conditions through storytelling and thorough information.

Knowledge is power. Hearing and understanding people’s experiences can help you be better equipped to respond the next time you encounter someone with a medical condition.

It will hopefully make you more aware and sensitive towards others struggling. This can even be in the simplest form of avoiding the generalization and misuse of medical conditions. Doing so diminishes undermines and devalues what individuals with those conditions experience. For example, using expressions like you’re retarded, I’m depressed, I’m so OCD can be hurtful to those who have medical retardation, depression or OCD.

According to the CDC, 795,000 people have a stroke every year in the USA alone. Just about every 40 seconds, someone in the States has a stroke and someone dies of a stroke every 4 minutes. It is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. Despite its prevalence, roughly 38% of bystanders knew all of the major symptoms of a stroke. Strokes require immediate care. Some strokes may be treated exclusively within the first 3 hours from when the symptoms start.

Patients who receive treatment are more likely to either fully recover or live with less disability than those who don’t. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke can save lives.

Breaking The Silence: Hemorrhagic Stroke

Did a Full 180

I was working at a gym as a receptionist. I talked to two clients and explained our memberships to them when they started tilting their heads and looking at me strangely. I was trying to figure out why they were doing that.

I started realizing that when I was talking, it sounded like I was eating my words. I asked them if it was okay with them if I switched to French and they agreed. My French started okay and then I started eating my words in French too. My words were not coming out properly. They couldn’t understand me so they started giggling a little bit. They told me that it was okay and that they would come back another day.

I turn to my computer and I’m staring at it. I’m starting to panic because I was stuttering. I asked one of my friends, who was working out, to come and see me. He asked me to repeat some numbers with him to try to get the hang of my speech back. After a few minutes, it came back a bit. He had thought that maybe it was caused by stress because I had two exams the next day (which I hadn’t studied for.)

He went to continue working out and I went back to my desk to continue working. I looked at the screen and I realized that, although I was smashing down on the keys, nothing was typing. I thought it was maybe the computer that was broken. I went to go grab my phone but it just slipped right out of my hand. I picked my phone with my left hand, I tried to open it with my finger-ID but it wasn’t working. Essentially, my hand wasn’t working and went completely numb. I used my other hand to type into the search bar “why can’t I feel my hand?” I started panicking because I couldn’t understand what I was reading and I couldn’t feel my hand.

As this is happening, I slowly started falling off the chair. I hit the ground and my friend came running. When he asked me what I was doing on the ground, I just started crying. This part is a blur. I don’t remember falling or getting back on the chair. He later told me that he was trying to get my attention. He started asking me simple questions to try to help ground me. I started lisping. My lips started tingling. I was producing saliva and drooling but I couldn’t swallow it. I tried to eat but couldn’t lift my fork.

Closing time came around and I tried to clean up by putting the weights away. I was incapable of doing so. My friend helped me out a bit and then drove me home. I get home and go to my mother. I looked at her and said I don’t feel well. I was talking funny but she started laughing because she thought I was just joking around.

It’s Not All in My Head

The next day, my entire arm was numb. My mom called me and it felt like my face was being pulled in two different directions. My mom’s boyfriend (at the time) time) picked me up and drove me to the ER. They were looking at me like I was crazy because everything returned back to normal. It was as if nothing happened. The nurse told me that they were probably going to send me home because they couldn’t find anything. Then, someone working at the hospital who had no medical training decided that they would try to get me a CT scan just to be safe. We get the CT done.

The nurse came over to me and told me that the blood test results came back. My numbers were a little wonky but they weren’t sure why. Then, the resident came to see me and asked me to come into a conference room. He told me that I had a minor brain bleed on the top left corner. I was told that they would give me some anti-seizure medications and that it shouldn’t happen again. The next minute, the main neurosurgeon came running into the room and told me that I had a massive brain bleed.
They had me do an MRI. They couldn’t see anything because of the amount of blood there. They didn’t know what was happening or why it was happening. They only knew that I had a massive bump in that region because of the CT scan I took earlier. They said it was a cyst.

On the Tip of My Tongue

I was hospitalized for about two weeks. In that time period, I had unbearable headaches. I couldn’t walk. I had another episode in the hospital where my right side went numb again. On one of the first few days I was there, they came in and told me that they were going to keep me in the hospital. They were trying to wait and see if my brain would somehow reabsorb the blood. They told me that I would be taking a second MRI in a week’s time. It was an important region of my brain and they were trying to avoid surgery at all costs.

The first day I was hospitalized was the scariest because I was having memory lapses. I lost my French and a lot of my English too. The only language I could remember was my native language, which I only spoke as a child. My English came back a few days after and my French only returned after a month’s worth of speech therapy. The resident printed out a list of my Facebook friends. She would choose random people and ask me who they were, where we first met, and how I knew them. I had friends from elementary school whom I didn’t recognize. It was as if someone had taken white-out and erased parts of my life. I would know that I was being asked questions. I was supposed to know the answers too but then would forget that they had asked me a question altogether. That’s how bad my memory was. With time, my memory came back.
For the first week, I couldn’t get out of bed without a walker. I needed help using the bathroom. Not being able to move was also really scary. I was being seen by a physiotherapist to try to help me to regain my strength.

Slow & Steady

Luckily for me, the bleeding started going down. The process was very hard and slow. My doctor had asked me if I had done any strenuous sports or fallen down the stairs. I told him that I was in school and during that two-week period prior to this incident, I had stopped all exercise to focus on my exams. He told me that it looked like I was hit in the head by a baseball bat, but without a fracture. After the week passed, they did another MRI. As the bleeding had started going down, they were going to let me go home on the condition that I wouldn’t do anything.

It was really hard. I would look at my phone and feel like puking. Too much light or noise would bother me. I started going to a rehabilitation center. They were helping me organize and schedule my life. They would give me tasks to test my re-organizational skills and my memory. They made me play word games to try to reboot my language skills. I was in rehab for eight or nine months. During this time, I had to drop school, quit work, and stop going to the gym. This all took a really big toll on my self-esteem.

Towards the end of rehab, I enrolled back in college, but I started the semester late; it was all really overwhelming. I was also a little ashamed of the fact that I was in rehab. I didn’t tell anyone to avoid questions and assumptions people would make about me. I would try to study but couldn’t focus and I couldn’t play video games, which really got me down.

I started slowly going back to the gym, with my doctor’s permission. It was important for me to start prioritizing my mental health. He told me my physical health would improve as a result. I wasn’t allowed to lift weights that were too heavy and I definitely couldn’t push myself.

Ran Myself Ragged

A year later, my doctor asked me if I was stressed at the time. I replied affirmatively because I was working three jobs, in school, working out every day, trying to maintain a romantic relationship and a social life. I was trying to manage everything and I wasn’t sleeping enough. He told me that my level of stress may have been so high that it caused a cyst I had in my brain to rupture. The bleeding was considered a hemorrhage. The hemorrhage covered up areas of my brain causing me to have seizures. The pain of the cyst rupturing had caused my nervous system to shut down and glitch. I had symptoms of a stroke because of everything going on.

I had no long-term side effects to all this. Thank goodness the cyst was not cancerous. I additionally have another cyst in the back of my head which was non-cancerous as well. They were probably there from birth and I must have either done something to rupture them or it ruptured because of the high levels of stress. My doctor told me that if there was no more blood, I wouldn’t need to see him anymore.

Left Me on Read

People were upset at me that I was no longer talking to them, nor texting or calling. I tried to explain to these friends what I was going through but they just couldn’t understand. I also didn’t want to share what was going on in my life, which really bothered them. They made my incident about themselves. My immediate family, however, was very supportive. My mom was my caregiver so she was dealing with my appointments and giving me medications. It was pretty hard on her.

I’m Better on the Other Side

This whole incident made me a lot more studious. I learned how to better balance my life more efficiently. I started becoming more in tune with my health and I started becoming more appreciative of what I had. It made me more mature because I realized how close I could’ve come to death. I’m not scared of dying but I am scared of not experiencing everything I wanted to experience and not spending enough time with my family. If I were to die tomorrow, damn it, I spent all of my time in school.

The Wisdom of Nature

The Wisdom of Nature

The world was created in a balanced and perfect way. Our bodies, perfect too. Our organs functioning collectively to make the body work. Similarly, nature provides everything; each species has its place, which contributes to the balance of the system. It is enough to make you stop and look at nature, to see its beauty and recognize that it has everything that human beings need, from food and resources to live, to the things we use, like paper for a book or wood to build a house.

Our ancestors were aware of the perfection of nature and respectfully borrowed the things they needed from it while appreciating what it provided them, and consequently making adequate use of the resources. Their contact with nature allowed them to listen to it, know its pains and make changes, if necessary. With humility, they recognized the goodness immersed in nature and the human being, which as part of the whole, flowed in harmony.

However, as time passed, human beings, in an effort to improve their living conditions, gave different uses to the resources that nature offered them. Little by little, and without realizing it, human beings lost their connection with nature. Perhaps, because now a city is a cement maze that does not allow us to see what was evident before:

  • The flow of a river indicates that everything flows;
  • The movement of water in the sea indicates that things are coming and going;
  • The sunrise and sunset indicates the beginning of a new day to enjoy and the night to rest;
  • The growth of a tree that indicates the connection with the soil through its roots;
  • The plants that absorb from the soil and air the nutrients they need to live; and
  • The animals reflect nobility, wisdom, and strength to survive in the ecosystem.

Recognizing this, our ancestors knew that everything was provided by nature and each being had an important place within this system in order to maintain its balance.

Why are we disconnected from nature?

The modern individual has changed his lifestyle and priorities. Health, food, and shelter are still important, but since they are acquired through monetary transactions, humans no longer recognize the natural value. A child who grows up in the countryside knows that sun, water, soil, and insects contribute to the good harvest of strawberries and by extension, values these natural resources. However, another child who grows up in the city will eat those strawberries, knowing that they came from the countryside, but not actually seeing all the efforts that were required to have them. We have lost sight of the cycle.

Return to the simple

People want the best for themselves: a better body, a better house, a better car, a better job, and so on. However, humans have already been provided with the best, however, we get distracted by such an information overload, that we do not dedicate enough time to reflect and connect with ourselves and, with nature.

The best that people have received is their life, their positive circumstances, and the other people around them. Although some situations may seem dysfunctional or difficult at times, they serve a purpose for our personal growth. Perhaps to recognize that and connect with ourselves, we must seek our roots and return to a simpler way of thinking, where we enjoy nature more and worry less about material things.

Time to awaken consciousness

When was the last time you enjoyed a day in the countryside? When was the last time you swam in the sea? When was the last time you did something good for nature, like helping an injured animal, planting a tree, cleaning a beach, or picking up your city’s trash to prevent pollution? Have you visited a farm that produces the fruits and vegetables you eat every day to find out how they are harvested? Do you know what the trees are like where the peaches you eat in your salad grow? Do you know the body of water where the water you drink at home comes from?

We are called to connect with our origins, to take the earth with our hands. It is time to know that the happiness of the heart can be found when we give ourselves time and space to connect with nature.

Pixelated

Pixelated

Photos by Hervé Mugisha

Cyberpunk is a Euphemism

This image depicts the reality of global warming and humanity’s disconnect from natural rhythms. I do not think there is anything wrong with modern societies and our material pursuits.

Politics have always existed, economics has always existed, as well as other things, including war, injustice, and poverty.

Today we have the means and the potential not only to pollute the earth but also to finally bring a balance to most of these historical issues. This is Too Little Nature.

beauty-and-the-beasts

Beauty and The Beasts

This piece depicts the reality of nature’s perpetuation as an environment of primitivity and invites the viewer to question their existence as an urban dweller on land that was not always so prim and proper.

Exclusive-Schooling

Exclusive Schooling

This piece represents exclusive schooling. ‘Private’, ‘privileged’, ‘elite’, ‘wealthy’, ‘nobles’, ‘lords of the land’, ‘rulers’, ‘enlightened’, ‘the initiated’, ‘secret societies’, ‘aristocracy’. All of these words are synonymous with a position of power. Throughout the millennia, this has taken many forms, but one form in common has always existed: education. This is The Power of Knowledge.

Democratization-of-Schooling

 

Democratization of Schooling

This piece depicts the unprecedented availability of education. Training, of all sorts, is now just a click away. However, obtaining education requires our interest and commitment to the lesson. It all comes down to knowing yourself and being aware of what you want.

About This Project

Hervé is a student in TAV College’s ALC program. This project uses the layer mask tool, of Adobe’s Photoshop, to re-contextualize images.

Human Revolution

Human Revolution

With the fleeting days of growing up,

with the souls all dolled-up, (in a human body).

We search for the survival,

Survival of the sensations that woe you half,

Part in the path, you search for love in your heart.

Then you find the one that invades your head.

 carrying all the emotions 

A shelter to stay and food to eat,

In between all the apathetic

You find humans who you actually believe in

It anchor your souls 

and attacks your hearts

Asks your brain and takes you too far

All the questions get answers and you feel so cordial

When you encounter somebody similar, it amalgamates your paths

Day by day it gets stronger

Strongest pace by far

Then feelings come in between 

And it all gets deflected

A good and a bad some individuals are confused 

Some confessing the truth,

Some mocking in disputes

The human connection to them is wrecked,

and the connections between it are left is left shattered.

So the spectators walked blindly on their way,

Never stopping to ponder it may be them soon after.

Tale of Antiquity

Tale of Antiquity

The story so far

Ever look up at the night sky in the countryside and wonder if there was life beyond our solar system?

Once upon a time, there lived a great omnipotent king named Toku. This all-powerful and benevolent king was immortal and had ruled his kingdom since the beginning of creation. His divine kingdom was called Twelfth Heaven. Located just outside our solar system, it was populated by a race of strange and enigmatic beings made of Light.

My name is Sam Urai, the last king of Gandawandaland. I was born about 3520 years before Christ and lived for over 700 years. Are you surprised? Ha! In those days, mankind’s life span topped 900 years on average. You cannot conceive of the world of my time as it has been lost to history. Furthermore, in antiquity, gods from the heavens lived among men on this Earth. 

These gods taught mankind to utilize our free will to reason and they bestowed technology upon us. All benefits and luxuries you enjoy today, without exception, are derived from their knowledge. Everything from agricultural techniques to architecture and civil engineering, from art and music to math and sciences. All of which were holistically contained in a single philosophy or worldview. Practitioners of this religion were committed to developing character and dignity. In turn, they acquired a permanent divine grace and longevity. 

It all started long ago when these strange Light beings faced extinction in their world due to excessive consumption of natural resources. All the warnings to cease their actions had gone unheeded. Until finally, the entire planet’s ecosystems crumbled resulting in massive catastrophic disasters. A massive loss of life ensued as the devastation triggered more and more seemingly unrelated calamities. A dark cloud had descended over the near-perfect, god-like beings. 

In the desperate scramble to save their world, it was discovered that the chemical element of gold had the ideal makeup to patch up massive caverns that had formed over the millennia of unchecked depletion of the minerals, gases, and other resources deep in the interior of the planetary mass. These gigantic empty spaces threatened the structural stability of that entire globe. As it turned out, gold was rare on that planet, and so after a quick scout around our solar system, the gods discovered a humble blue planet and descended upon it to mine for the gold. 

First came the one called Nobu. This being was a feline-faced, slender figure, who stood at a towering height of 12 feet tall. Nobu was Toku’s first born child and the brains of the Earth task-force expedition. She was deep into the STEM subjects and was an avid inventor of all manner of wacky yet useful gadgetry. She had a reputation for being a troublemaker in the alien society but always got away with it because her eccentricity was the source of her genius, which was highly valued and praised by all. 

This imposing figure belongs to the one called Eiya. Eiya was Nobu’s sibling and was tasked by their father to assume the role of Commander-in-chief of the kingdom’s Earth expedition. This gentle giant stood at 16 feet tall, had the head of a bull, a heart of gold, and an indestructible body. Just as wise as he was mighty, Eiya was slow to anger and praised stability above all else. This tendency caused him to be somewhat stubborn and resistant to change. Eiya was Toku’s favorite child because he was dependable and steadfast, unlike his sister whose every whim had her changing course at any moment. He had a track record of hoarding all manner of beautiful and luxurious things, however, that many disapproved of. Though he ruled justly as Commander of the Earth expedition, he was rigid and unimaginative later when situations arose that demanded adjustment and when his people needed to improvise. 

This is the restored capital of the kingdom on the Twelfth Heaven. 

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with our troubles, both the isolation felt during this pandemic and the larger environmental crisis. I mentioned earlier how this is about restoring perspective to our bewildered spirits. You see the Light beings are intimately intertwined with humanity and are linked to some of the most important and spectacular events that have occurred on this planet. From the very genesis of mankind to the Great flood that was to have erased our kind off the face of the Earth! All prophets and all saviors have known this truth. 

These benevolent otherworldly beings fashioned us from clay and breathed life into our nostrils. The reason for this act of divine creation, however, was not altruistic. They intended to use us as laborers to mine gold because their numbers had dwindled after the near destruction of their planet. Toku could not send any more of his subjects for the important work being carried out on Earth. When they first arrived on this planet about 13000 years ago, only the natural things like the primordial elements existed along with the animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms. Judging the already existing creatures to be lacking reasoning faculties and unsuited for the kind of tasks they needed doing. The beings sought the permission of their supreme king to allow Nobu to devise a new life form more capable of aiding them in their efforts. 

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