Maggie Hulbert is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Queen's University
(Broadview Press, 2017)
Graphic novels have emerged from the field of medical humanities as a powerful medium for telling stories — particularly stories of mental illness. Ellen Forney and David B. are two recent, best-selling graphic novelists who write about their experiences with mental illness and have broken ground for many new artists to carve their place in the mental health graphic novel genre. Clem and Olivier Martini, brothers and authors of The Unravelling, also deserve recognition as graphic novel trailblazers. The Unravelling is the second book that touches on their family’s experience with Olivier’s diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, this book also centres on their mother, Catherine — Olivier’s caretaker and roommate — who is rapidly losing her independence and cognitive abilities at age 89. It is a personal and emotional account of caregiving, as well as an angry lament of the state of Canada’s healthcare system for the mentally ill and ageing. ...continue reading
Sarah Currie lives in Ottawa, Ontario
I changed jobs this week. On Monday, my first day, when I should have been primarily concerned with learning the office microwave-cleaning rota and orienting myself to a new Xerox print centre, I was a little preoccupied. At 8 pm on Sunday, I found out that my father had fallen, broken his hip, undergone emergency surgery, and was in isolation in a hospital in southwestern Ontario. Details were fuzzy. Hospital staff would not share much with my aunt, my father’s sister. He had managed to call her on Sunday morning, 24 hours after his fall, once he had come round after anaesthesia. He needed her to go to his house to make sure my mom was okay. My mom wasn’t answering the phone.
Unanswered phone calls are not uncommon at my parents’ house. My father is quite hard of hearing, after spending 37 years as an infantry officer. My mother tends not to answer the phone because she is self-conscious. She has a severe cognitive disability ...continue reading
University of Toronto
Class of 2017
The Determinants of Community Health course provides medical students at the University of Toronto the opportunity to observe how various agencies promote health and meet the needs of their target population. A fellow student and I were assigned two days with the Community Care Access Centre, an agency dedicated to helping patients live independently at home or transition to a long-term care home. It was to be a straightforward client visit: Arrive at 2 pm, ask the questions outlined on page 101 of the guide, and return to the medical academy by 5 pm. What we did not expect is how the client's caregiver would turn this visit into an opportunity to passionately advocate for change in senior care by sharing some shocking experiences. This piece reflects on that encounter while raising questions around consent, resource allocation, and the predicament that we'll face in reconciling the two.
Her message at our meeting could not have been better told,
and twice she stated bluntly: "Treat me nicely when I'm old."
She was a middle-aged woman caring for her ailing mom
in a distant rural region, seemingly quiet and calm.
Yet a storm raging within ...continue reading