A tip came in that had front-page potential, handled right.
Before I knew I was the proud owner of an immune system that couldn’t tell self from invader, doctors pushed sedatives on me.
They hypothesized that my buffet of bodily dysfunctions — stabbing pain around my lungs, clawed hands, ruddy and hot joints — were provoked by overwork and exams, stress or anxiety. Something of my doing, or my response to something of my doing.
Then I found out I had an autoimmune disease. And if we’re going to get all psychological about it, it’s like having the mutant spawn of Hannibal Lecter, the self-cannibal of all illnesses. We sufferers allegedly have an acute case of self-loathing with a side order of death wish.
That’s a metaphoric sledgehammer with which to clobber the ever-increasing number of sufferers.
Why do I need this illness?
After the latest issue of Monty’s Mouth was distributed, our junior high school’s collective of burnouts, jocks and nerds would spend five minutes smelling the paper it was printed on, hoping for a high off the pungent smelling mix of isopropanol and methanol — the duplicating fluid used in the ditto machine. This was the era when cooking sprays like Pam were huffed out of plastic bags and kids hung out near the pump while their dad filled the gas tank.Working for
Working for Monty’s Mouth was like school-sanctioned substance abuse. Continue reading
After jumping out of the Poison Dwarf’s car to escape his lust-dressed-up-as-apology — which I paraphrase here as “I behaved badly, it’s your fault, and I will make you pay” — I realized I better apply for jobs at other newspapers. Continue reading
People with chronic illnesses get a lot of weird comments and strange advice.
Here’s my Top 7 list of what not to say, along with some advice on what would really be helpful.
My blog, The Sick Days, started as an assignment for my Digital Strategy course at the University of Toronto, where I’m earning my certificate in Strategic Public Relations. In addition to the blog, we had to make a short video. Check out mine:
15 prednisone-fuelled moments from journalism school
1. I’d only been back in Ottawa a few days and my face was like a pregnant woman’s belly. People couldn’t keep their hands away.
Walking with a purposeful bounce across the Bank Street bridge, I waved at an approaching classmate. She looked at me oddly and didn’t wave back. By the time we were face-to-face, she leaned in, squinted, and then gently poked my face with her finger.
“Shelley? What’s the matter with your face?” she squealed. “Are you sick? Did you have your wisdom teeth out?”
I imagined my neo-cherubic cheeks popping, squirting prednisone juice all over her. Continue reading
This is how the cover-up began.
I showed up for my summer newspaper internship, signed some papers, found a desk, took an assignment, only cried in the bathroom.
And after writing 1,000 words for a sidebar on a school board matter that should have been just 400 —the Province is a tabloid – I slipped out to await my mother, driving up Granville Street in her Ford Pinto.
That first week, and many after, my mom spent three hours each day as a chauffeur driving to and from the Province. She deserved a medal for driving; me, for acting.
I didn’t tell anybody, editor or the veteran journalists sitting on either side of me, that I’d just been tentatively diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease.
Operating instructions, please
The truth is, I had no idea how a sick person was supposed to act.
Should I tell people my problems? Or would that make me seem weak? If they knew I was sick, could they send me home? Maybe I should be sent home? Would my diagnosis taint me for my dreamed of future as a journalist? Continue reading