Confessions of a Ballerunner

Essays on Sports, Arts, Culture, and Life

Archive for the tag “health”

Cartoon: Health messaging is all around us

Crowded subway screening messages cartoon_color2

Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with health messages, usually across a variety of media platforms. How to prevent disease. How to treat disease. These days, a person has to be able to think critically not just about the message being transmitted (i.e., Is it credible? Does it apply to my personal circumstances?), but also about the messenger transmitting the message (i.e., Is the information from a trusted source? Are there any conflicts of interest or external motivations that may be influencing the message?). In an age of such complexity, it has never been more important to educate ourselves about health and healthy living. We need to become critical thinkers, so that we can appraise the messages and the messengers. There’s a lot of health information out there – too much to stay on top of by ourselves. That’s why we also need to identify trusted curators of health information, who can help us sort through all the noise to find the signal.

An excellent, plain language resource to start educating oneself about health messages is the free, open-source book by Woloshin, Schwartz, and Welch called Know Your Chances.

More cartoons from the artistic time capsule…

Here are a few more oldie but goodie health-related cartoons from the artistic vault… (I was doing everything from sketch to colorization at this point since I had learned how to do some basic stuff in PhotoShop and Illustrator.)

The 2004 cartoon below tries to illustrate the frustrations from a patient’s perspective of getting to a clinic appointment in a big city. Often, the buses are packed with people, and if the weather’s bad, these buses can be late arriving and be even more crowded than normal. Sometimes, they don’t even show up at all. Not a pleasant experience when someone is elderly or unwell, trying to get in to see their doctor or health professional…

These next two cartoons (from 2006) showcase my attempts at creating some birthday cards that our clinical team could potentially give out to patients in our clinic. I think I only ended up using the one of the artist at her easel (kind of a self-portrait, I’m told) once to wish a friend Happy Birthday, however… The other ‘group’ illustration (immediately below) was meant to be a ‘from all of us’ type of birthday card with the whole clinical team represented — and some patients mixed in — wishing one a Happy Birthday… This ended up on the cutting room floor, too. (I had lots of ideas back in those days for patient education tools and other fun things to give out, but understandably not all ideas fly, especially when there are significant dollars or time involved. Oh well, it was still fun pursuing these different ideas.)

This last cartoon (from 2002) was inspired by a clinical trial in diabetes in which I was a study coordinator. During the trial, patients had to get periodic ECGs done to monitor their heart health and screen for any rhythm disturbances. I can remember having to stick electrodes (which were really sticky!) on some pretty hairy, obese men. Sometimes, the electrodes just wouldn’t stick at all, though, so I was faced with having to shave some of their precious chest hair off. I felt so bad having to do this. (I don’t think they minded, however.) I was also a newbie coordinator, so I wasn’t exactly practised in the fine art of esthetics & barbering…

Opening up an artistic time capsule…

Last night, I was putting the final touches on an educational presentation I had to give today on the topic of diabetes and heart disease, and I stumbled upon an old memory stick. I thought, brilliant, I’ll just use this to save and transport my work. So, I open it up to see what was on it, and presto, all these old files from the early 2000s appear with some artwork and educational stuff I had done 10 years ago!? What a blast from the past! Amazing how you can instantly be transported back in time by an image… All of a sudden, I was magically whisked back to those heady days of my first clinical-research-education job in a vibrant city with really great friends. For a moment, I felt so young and idealistic again!.. 🙂 (I’d still consider myself an idealist today – albeit with a bit more street smarts and skepticism. As for young, well, I guess I’d still be considered relatively young, except that I’ve always felt like an old soul, even 10 years ago… But I digress…)

Anyway, here is a sample of some illustrations I had drawn back then with my favourite drawing implement – the black Sharpie marker. Since I didn’t know how to use PhotoShop or Illustrator at the time, I just did the sketches and an artist from a really cool, local graphics art firm did the colorizing. The images were used to support the narrative in a couple of diabetes education booklets that I had collaborated on back in 2002 with an endocrinologist that we ended up publishing (in very limited release). This was definitely one of the most fun art projects I ever did, which I totally would’ve done for free. I remember actually feeling guilty getting paid for work that didn’t feel like work… Ahhh, if only all jobs could feel like that… 😉

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