May 8, 2013

Solar Flares and Sjogren's

In a recent post of mine, I told you I was participating in our good buddy Julia's competition to design an image that symbolized Sjogren's Syndrome (or my experience with it).  Since Julia has now posted her finalists, I can reveal my full contribution (and I use the term loosely) to her effort.

As a visual thinker, I hoped the inspiration for this piece would come to me easily, but alas it wasn't that easy.  The only symptom that every Sjoggie I know has in common in fatigue, and nearly all experience brain fog, but I have no idea how to visualize these experiences.  I'm also not aware of any test, treatment, or device/tool that would resonate with all Sjoggies.  So instead, I thought about what having Sjogren's means to me.  To me, knowing I have Sjogren's frequently calls to mind the biggest, baddest trigger I have - the sun.  Sun exposure is what kicked my disease into an active state when I started high school, and even mild exposure or God forbid, a burn, can send me into a flare now.  The extreme, months-long flares I had in high school were much worse and it took a long time to learn how to manage my sun exposure more effectively.

That's when it struck me - the sun...causing flares...a solar flare!  That's a sufficiently sardonic and yet punny symbol if ever there was one.  It symbolizes both a burst of energy which people would usually consider a positive thing but which for a Sjoggie can precede a disease flare, and a destructive and essentially unpredictable force outside of our control.

Dear Lord, it looks worse every time I see it - I swear, it's less embarrassing in person.  Ok not by much, but still!
(PS- I gave Julia permission to use the image as she sees fit but since it was contributed for her use, I ask that you not use it but rather link to her or my know, if you want to share an entertaining example pathetic adult artistry in crayon.)
Unfortunately, I must have been out sick the day they taught reasonable artistic skills in school (hey, I was out a lot, it's possible).  It is PURELY out of my sense of obligation as a health activist to you and my fellow sickies that I forced myself to create my embarrassing image and submit it to Julia.  Naturally, in True Julia Form, she couldn't let my humiliation go quietly into her files - no, she included it in her post today about the entries for her contest, Creative Challenge Finalists Revealed.

Fortunately, though, her post also contains submissions from truly gifted and exceedingly clever individuals.  I am quite content to leave this type of imagery in their far more capable hands.  Head on over and check out their handiwork - it's really quite touching!  I think you'll like it....

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