Issue 15 • Spring 2022

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ISSUE 15 FALL 2022
Karthyayani Ramesh Cover Artist

letter from the editors

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Issue 15 of The Muse. As much as we would like to stop talking about the pandemic, we recognize that the challenges associated with the pandemic continue to persist across our global community and affects individuals in unique and uncertain ways. As pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, we hope that everyone remains mindful and courteous of the values and preferences of others.

Firstly, we would like to sincerely thank all our members here at The Muse for another year of dedication and interest in The Muse’s goals. Your commitment in reaching out to individual authors and artists, your ability to visually portray and present the works of others, and your interest in writing your own blog posts on novel topics, all demonstrate how universal the medical humanities is. To those who submitted works to Issue 15, thank you for your trust in The Muse in sharing your stories and for collaborating with us along the way.

Alongside our yearly initiatives, we also continue to partner with Keeping Six —Hamilton Harm Reduction Action League to produce their Quarterly Zines and share stories of harm reduction with our local Hamilton community. We also collaborated with McMaster’s ENGLISH 3NH3 class and the McMaster Child Health Conference to assist in sharing and supporting the works of students. We look forward to further collaborations in the future!

We would also like to thank McMaster University’s Office of the President, the Department of English & Cultural Studies, and the McMaster Alumni Association, for their continued sponsorship to The Muse. Their genorosity and belief in our mission allows us to share these unique stories around the world.

As another academic year draws to a close, we would like to say farewell to all our graduating members and we wish them the best of luck on all their future endeavours. We look forward to hearing from you about all your successes! We would also like to introduce our three new Co-Editors-in-Chief: Kelsey Gao, Kylie Meyerman, and Subin Park. They have been a monumental component of our team since the first day they joined, and we are all excited for their leadership at The Muse.

table of contents

pathological dreams i am enough here comes a square one a bed  3 poems mixing music, medicine & not "norwegian woods" trying to find my footing again  art that speaks disappearing scrubs & sensory fatigue  an ode to lost nerves  reading diversity confined souls & avalanche being abnormal & nothing to do but wait  angel poised the l(onely) companion frontliner's day quarantine & connection after snow a finger painter derailed by circumstance health care listening covid portrait  fear of people because of asthma 1984 natasha verhoeff child health confrence abstracthoeff the guasha treatment peau, pear, pain resisting the ableist notions bubbles

Bidisha Chakraborty Jagoda Zwiernik

Les Epstein

Daisy Bassen Michele Mekel Gerard Sarnat Renata Pavrey David Sheskin Renee Cronley Renata Pavrey Renata Pavrey Chary Hilu Keon Madani Sergey Dobrynov Amy Bassin & Mark Blickley

Heba Khan Ges Jaicten Larissa Peters Vanesha Pravin Eric Lawson

Binod Dawadi Karen Boissonneault Gauthier

Pawel Pacholec Maid Čorbić DC Diamondopolous Natasha Verhoeff

Hua Huang Yannick De Serre Rose Ajdar Keith Buswell

4 5 6 6 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 16 18 23 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 34 36 39 39 40 42

pathological dreams

The dreams I encountered are vulnerable, Or am I mistaken? Are they hallucinations? I am alone in the streets at night by the London Bridge Held breath, moistened eyes, probably crying The pathological error is recurrent Neither severe, nor apocalyptic

It is just a quintessential panorama I can be Ruthless but never Ruth* Something is clutching me back I want to kiss my emotions No! I am not vulnerable

The pathological error is recurrent Neither stupendous, nor awkward

Yes, my art echoes that of John Keats

I am mesmerized by the Nightingale’s phonetics, Linguistic disorders I carry French or Italian, I don’t know

The pathological error is recurrent Neither acceptable, nor rejected

Yes, I am a dreamer and not the only one Someday you will join us And the world will be as one** United with love and humanity

Yes, I am vulnerable A proud pathological dreamer Blessed to be apocalyptic, anointed with human perfumes.

*Ruth isa character from Harold Pinter’splay TheHomecoming, whereshewasa prostitutein literaland metaphoricalsense.

**an excerpt from thesong Imagine by John Lennon

Bidisha Chakraborty is a post graduated student in English Language and Literature from University of Calcutta, former intern at Academic Researcher at Y.E.S Intercultural, Michigan (2020).Their area of interests prevails in creative writing and they have three international creative publications. They aspire to pursue their doctoral research in Romantic Literaturein their futureendeavors.
4 | NOV 2022
Artwork by Karthyayani Ramesh

i am enough

Sculpture, 1.65 cm (plus7 cm stand)

I AM ENOUGH I am enough because I AM and that is enough. Each of my scars has a story and is a path to who I am now Each of my scars reminds me that appearance is a very fleeting thing.

It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter what you have experienced (or not experienced) in your life. Remember that you aren’t what happens to you. You are not the emotions that grips you. It only matters who You Are at Source. Don’t let your appearance define your worth.

EACH OF US IS ENOUGH. Just be there and let yourself be. Don’t judge, support.

Jagoda Natalia Zwiernik is a visual artist that has been living and working in Edinburgh, Scotland. She studied Interior Design & Architecture at the Institute of Visual Arts of the University of Zielona Góra and Faculty of Sculpture and Spatial Activities at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, Poland. She is most inspired by people and their stories, as well as by social situation to which she feels obligated to respond. She has exhibited her artworks in Poland, Hungary, Italy ,Spain, Belgium and UK.

ISSUE 15 | 5

here comes a  square one

Morning and here’s a fine buffet of pills and the new guy comes as a square ingested by a Blue Ridge square, who has always fallen in line with the 14th century idea of esquarre and would have taken on the mantle of the second World War II idea that I must be a fuddy-duddy, hardly in tune with the latest swing. But, hey, Monk and Miles blow my mind so I insist to be square with all that groove.

I once took a seat on a rectangular bench in Bellevue, waiting in line for a bottle of calming magic. Each blue peacemaker had an oval look, a sapphire gleam. All afternoon the sun glanced over the tips of our tortured heads, our names left lingering in shadows. Whoever imagined a square remedy?

Square dances are fun. Four people mesh in kaleidoscopic fashion; my partners at Yorktown Junior High School most certainly preferred a plague rather than holding my hand. So, I’ll creep out after midnight and dance with farmer ghosts in the old city’s square where cattle once came to die.

I’m ready for my square one, Mr. de Mille.

Les Epstein a poet, educator and stage director living and working in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. After years of devouring various treatments for Chrons Disease, a pill was prescribed to treat the onslaught of Acid Reflux. The reflux, the pill and copies of the Bacopa Literary Review and Slant which contained new poems by Epstein all came at once; despite all the activity he was taken by the odd shape of the new pill. Though suffering, humour seemed the right remedy- or at least a pathway to feeling better. "Here Comes a Square One" grew out of these early autumn events.

a bed

All it will do is keep her safe, I guess that’s enough you said As if you’d weighed the options On a scale, as if there were a scale Made to measure in calibrated grams How much a girl is, all the years She’s lived and all those to come stored Like the fat ivory bulb of a tulip, covered In its brown paper; thrust into the dark To draw power from earth, casts Of worms, the invisible return of the sun. Safe. Enough. Safe enough. A slant Rhyme you couldn’t hear, still guiding You to a decision she wouldn’t accept.

Daisy Bassen is a poet and community child psychiatrist who graduated from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, McSweeney’s, Smartish Pace, and [PANK] among other journals. She was the winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest, the 2019 ILDS White Mice Contest and the 2020 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. She was doubly nominated for the 2019 and 2021 Best of the Net Anthology and for a 2019 and 2020 Pushcart Prize. Born and raised in New York, she livesin RhodeIsland with her family.

Living in Happy Valley, Michele Mekel wears many hats: writer, editor, educator, bioethicis, poetess, cat herder, and woman; and, above all, human. With more than 120 poems published, her work has appeared in various academic and creative publications, including being featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and nominated for Best of the Net. Her poetry has also been translated into Cherokee. She is co-principal investigator for the Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 project.

Artwork by Aditya Kalra.

6 | NOV 2022

three poems

digital controversy

Connected by Bluetooth, I fully suspect the smart scale :: faithfully mounted with bare feet each morning, even before coffee :: and the fitness tracker :: ever present on my wrist, monitoring inhalation/exhalation :: gleefully gossip about my weight :: tittering over my sloth, wagering as to my BMI next week ::


How do the butter and the lemon both taste of yellow?

pandemic idioms

We counted chickens not yet hatched, too soon shedding masks and social distance. Not enough vaccines, and millions still in vials, our resolve fell months too early.

Death won this game of Russian roulette without even a single bullet in the chamber.

mixing music, medicine

I sat on a rug biding my time Drinking her wine. We talked until two and then she said It's time for bed”*

but from everything recently seen plus read, you and your carpet have bad Norwegian scabies, so, cad, let’s sleep separately.

not "norwegian woods"

Buddha found suffering at the root; Jesus lived it through his electric kindling crucifixion.

If there's god(s), s/he's' way more than Yahweh and Allah, even beyond nature...

The bell rings. We open our lids. A lotus-kneed smiling Scandinavian begins a dharmette:

before I can focus on him, an Asian perches on the stairs, blocking my chair's sight line.

Adding insult to injury, she drops her clodhopper shoes, shattering the silence.

At first, seeds of upsetness pour from me, outraged someone so Eastern could be so oblivious, so insensitive.

Should I tap her right shoulder, fingers gently pleading, Please move a bit to the left?

Then my skittish practice seems to kicks in, making me too aware of the gratuitous story I'm building.

Realizing the irony of my ruthless expectation –that a yellow-skinned lady is more sangha atuned than a WASP or a Jew -- I laugh at myself.

And decide to just close my eyes again, relax back into the blond’s teaching about craving.

A staged invasion of love and compassion suddenly lifts me above his most intelligent design.

Beyond fundamentalist virgin births, resurrections, excommunications; further than atheist quarks and Darwinian quirks.

On a middle path rather than extreme. Momentarily not missing the forest for the trees. Deep inside a fleeting white light shines. I do my best to bless all sentient beings.

Gerard Sarnat is a Harvard-trained physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the marginalized and a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy to deal with climate justice, and serves on Climate Action Now’s board. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids and six grandsons, and is looking forward to potential futuregranddaughters.

Photo *Beatles’ Norwegian Wood (ThisBird HasFlown)

trying to  find my  footing again

Renata Pavrey (MSc, CDE, UGC-SET) is a nutritionist, diabetes educator, and Pilates teacher. Marathon runner and Odissi dancer are her unofficial designations, when she's not discussing food, exercise, and medications. She readsa lot, and writesa bit, too.

Photo by Tomas Anunziata on Pexels.

art that speaks


Art That Speaks is composed of images that utilize the format of a Scrabble board or crossword puzzle to provide a unique perspective on a variety of topical and fictional subjects.


10 | NOV 2022

David Sheskin made his first work of art at the age of 40. His initial efforts were pen and ink drawings. He then began to paint in acrylics and subsequently utilized sculpture, mixed media, collage and digital technology to create an extensive but diverse body of art. Sheskin’s images have been published in magazines and exhibited in both galleriesand museums.


ISSUE 15 | 11 on Pexels

disappearing scrubs

What lies behind the sterile walls of a female­ dominated profession roots grounded in religious service “Say Little, Do Much”—St.Vincent de Paul reverberates into the modern nurse and echoes back insurmountable duties built from hands cut from auxiliary staff that were no longer in the budget but fits the ghosts into the census because the optics on paper matter and “if it isn’t charted, it didn’t happen” but the caregivers’ voices die out receding into the proper channels until they burnout into apparitions  systemically faulted for disappearing with inhospitable aseptic technique then look on as enthusiastic graduates and a diverse array of foreign talent poached from the countries that need them vanish behind the sterile doors.

Renee Cronley, is a writer and nurse from Brandon, Manitoba. She studied Psychology and English at Brandon University, and Nursing at Assiniboine Community College. Her work has appeared in, Love Letters to Poe, Black Hare Press, Dark Dispatch, Off Topic, and many other anthologies and literary magazines.

Artwork by Sabrina Sefton.

sensory fatigue: a fresh  pandemic dressed in  disposable workers

I hear partisan purple prose and see field hospitals.

I touch yesterday’s PPE and smell disinfectant.

I taste bitterness and feel nothing.

12 | NOV 2022

an ode to lost nerves

Who would have thought that right could go so wrong? Let down by my own leg, Can’t even walk in my own shoes;

Forget about someone else’s, You tingle and niggle, Let me know you’re there There, but unable to cooperate, or unwilling to with the rest of the body; Not walking the talk, Leading me only into Struggle and pain, Like a puppet with a broken leg I dangle helplessly, Nervous about my injured nerves

Renata Pavrey, (MSc, CDE, UGC SET) is a nutritionist, diabetes educator, and Pilates teacher. Marathon runner and Odissi dancer are her unofficial designations, when she's not discussing food, exercise, and medications. She readsa lot, and writesa bit, too.

Artwork by Sabrina Sefton.

ISSUE 15 | 13

reading diversity

The members of Read  The World Book Club always look forward to their monthly  book discussions. They spend  the entire month reading the  chosen book — selected in turn  by different members — and can’t wait to present their thoughts and opinions at the eagerly awaited  literary curation of ideas. The  book picked for the month of  April was The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. Originally  written in Japanese, the memoir  has been translated into English  by David Mitchell (popularly  known for Cloud Atlas and Slade House, among other well­known works). Priya had picked the title this month, because the book  club was keen on discussing a  non­fiction book. They had been reading a lot of translated fiction  from classic and contemporary  writers in the past few months,  and were looking for something  new and different to talk about.

The meeting has been  scheduled at Sam’s place today, the last Sunday of the month  (when all their book meets occur, to give everyone sufficient time to finish the book). Sam starts off by commending Priya on her choice of book for the month.

“It was nothing like I  expected,” he informs her and  everyone else.

“I, too, wasn’t aware that  the writer was a thirteen­year­old boy with autism when I picked up

this book,” Priya admits. “A  Japanese language memoir  sounded interesting, and it was  David Mitchell’s name on the  cover (as translator) that caught  my attention.”

“We learned so much,”  shares Geneve. “The Reason I  Jump is certainly a one­of­a­kind memoir that showcases how an  autistic mind thinks and  perceives. I hadn’t known much  about autism earlier, because I  personally don’t know anyone  with autism. I’ve heard about it  as a spectrum disorder, but until  reading Naoki’s book I had no  experience with people with  autism.”

Many of the book club  members reiterate Priya’s and  Geneve’s thoughts. They dove  into the book expecting  something else and came out  with insights and information like never before. Using an alphabet  grid to construct words and  sentences, the child author  writes about his life with autism  in a neurotypical world, and  answers questions that people  don’t have answers to, or never  knew they needed to ask in the  first place. Why do people with  autism repeat words and  phrases, why do they line up  blocks and toys, why do they avoid eye contact, why do they jump and flap their arms?  Questions upon questions from  non­autistic minds, unanswered

Naoki Higashida was diagnosed with autism at age 5, wrote the  Japanese book at age 13, and  the English translation came out eight years later by British author David Mitchell, whose own child  is autistic. Mitchell translated the book because he wanted to help others like himself and his wife —  parents, siblings, teachers,  caregivers — to understand and  support their loved ones on the  spectrum. Naoki’s honesty and  generosity provide unique  insights into not only his life with autism, but on autism as a whole and life itself. In teaching us to  understand others, it helps us  understand ourselves and our  role in fostering better  relationships in society. Written in the form of Q & As, the  illuminating narrative structure is just like Naoki’s alphabet grid —  understanding and empathizing  with autistic behaviors that are  communicated through so much more than words.

Like many people on the  spectrum, Naoki has speech  difficulties, but his story is a  revelatory account of autism,  beautifully translated onto the  page in his own words and  language. One of the book club  members, Lata, points out that  after reading the book she  started looking up other literature

about autism spectrum disorders. “I came across the word  neurodivergency and began  reading up on it. Autism in Heels by Jennifer O’Toole was another book I read alongside  The  Reason I Jump,” Lata reveals.  “The memoir is about the  author’s journey of being  diagnosed with Asperger’s  Syndrome at the age of 35, and  presents a firsthand account of  autism in women.” Lata  appreciated the insights she  gained from both books, written  across different ages and  genders, and learning how wide  and misunderstood the spectrum can be.

Like Lata, other members also researched books on autism when they realized how little they knew on the subject. More book  recommendations started  pouring forth — At Home in the  Land of Oz by Anne Clinard  Barnhill (the writer’s memoir of  living with her autistic sister),  Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin (an animal behaviour  expert with autism talking about  the autistic brain and the humananimal bond), The Color of Bee  Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J.  Harris (the protagonist is a child  on the spectrum who witnesses  a murder), The Curious Incident  of the Dog in the Night­time by  Mark Haddon (a teenager with  Asperger’s Syndrome out to  solve the murder of the

neighbour’s dog),  Odd Girl Out by Laura James (an autistic mom raising non­autistic children talks about the under­diagnosis of  female autism), How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move  by Tito  Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay (a nonverbal autistic who finds  expression in reading and writing)  an assortment of books on  autism spectrum disorders  across fiction and non­fiction,  with a range of autistic  characters in prominent roles.

As the list grew, the Read the World Book Club members  realized that they were not as  widely read as they had  imagined. They had undoubtedly read a lot of books, but their  reading habits were not  diversified. Their reading choices were not inclusive of authors,  characters and situations  different from their own. By  making a conscious effort to  venture out of mainstream  authors and popular bestsellers,  they learned to appreciate the  vastness of literature and its  many forms. They learned how  books can be educational and  not just entertaining. They  learned to look beyond their own lives and see and know human  beings for who they are. They  learned to appreciate the  interconnectedness of humanity  and what makes us human.

Armed with their list of  new titles to read, Sam

concludes the book meeting with plans to ensure that their reading is more diverse from now on. “I,  for one, am going to read Naoki  Higashida’s follow­up book next,” Nick states, while alluding to Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 (a  sequel to  The Reason I Jump that Naoki wrote at age 24).  “What book on neurodivergency  are you going to pick up next?”

Renata Pavrey (MSc, CDE, UGC-SET) is a nutritionist, diabetes educator, and Pilates teacher. Marathon runner and Odissi dancer are her unofficial designations, when she's not discussing food, exercise, and medications. She readsa lot, and writesa bit, too.

Vladimir Mokry on Unsplash

ISSUE 15 | 15

confined souls

This work aims to capture and reproduce the moment when the rupture occurs in the world as we knew it, with its "normality" and the paralysis of everyday life.

Confined souls wants to represent that at the same moment, all over the world, souls are locked in their homes, while the outside world is torn by pain and uncertainty.

In terms of its format, the work expresses the absence of regular edges, where nothing is as we know it. The support of the work is not conventional, like the reality in which we had to live. We have no frame of reference, we stand on uneven ground.

Chary Hilu is an artist and teacher of fine arts from Argentina. He is a member of the Association of Visual Artists of Argentina and a graduate of the National School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires (Argentina). His works are conceived as a response to the sensations, feelings and experiences evoked by extreme situations.

16 | NOV 2022

Suddenly we were swept away by an avalanche of stones that swept away everything in its path to leave us on a winding terrain, an uncertain terrain... a mountain between stones, buried under what was familiar and known to us. Suddenly, a great hole opened up in the earth, the hole of uncertainty, the enormous void that asks questions and questions what was our seemingly controlled reality.

In this flood of avalanches and depressions, the same image, the same human

figure that repeats itself, that takes different positions, different colors, different sizes, but in the end is the same, confronts us with the certainty that we all face this situation in the same conditions. Although we are in one way or another, we are all the same. Falling into the abyss seems to be the fate shaped by the weight of bodies. But a solid foundation, even if it is made of rubble, still supports us.

ARTIST Chary Hilu

now. The internet told me what that label means. So many peo‐ple are like me. We have the same label, so we should be able to relate.

But I guess not, because I fulfill 3 out of 12 symptoms on the checklist, while my mother fulfills 4 out of 12 that are dif‐ferent from mine. My father has 6, but not all of them are the same as mine. We have the same label though. There’s an

I met someone who also has that broader label, but not the same category of abnor‐mality. It’s amazing how much we had in common. Despite taking different prescriptions, and being placed in different categories, we shared nearly identical experiences. I learned that it’s not only these two cate‐gories that share similarities, but most of the other labels also share core experiences.

tion, it’s just a guess. It might change, because they can never be sure. I could’ve gone to the same doctor as my friend with identical symptoms and I could've been put on their med‐ication. But I’m not because our doctors guessed differently. In grade 3, we learned that the Anishinaabe go on vi‐sion quests. It’s a spiritual jour‐ney said to provide sacred knowledge and strength from

18 | NOV 2022

the spirit world. It’s something that is praised and celebrated. But I guess if I were to tell a doctor that I set out to have vi‐sions to gain wisdom, it would be delusion. The visions them‐selves, hallucinations. They would put me on antipsychotics and call it a day. One less per‐son putting themselves and oth‐ers in harm’s way.

It is such an ambiguous fog that we have deemed to be science, Fact. I understand that sometimes science is theoreti‐cal, and changes constantly. My issue is that I have seen too many people receiving a label and a prescription because they are human. One of my friends is considered abnormal, they say it’s because they get nervous. My aunt’s stamp of abnormality is due to her sadness after her husband passed. My little cousin can’t sit still, so he has that label too. They're consider‐ing medication for a 6-year-old, because he is jumpy and gets excited. A 6-year-old is abnor‐mal because they don’t sit still. And that doesn’t even address the biggest problem with all of this. I’ve been this way since birth, and many of

the people I know have this broad label too. It is treated as something that most people ex‐perience and told that it shouldn’t be treated as strange. Throwing around labels and pathologizing behaviours is not healthcare, it's harmful.

But it’s still called illness

It’s still called disorder. It's still called disease. It’s still called dysfunction. It’s still called deficit. It’s still called disability. It’s still called abnormal, and we're still told that we need to be fixed.

Homosexuality stopped being diagnosed in 1973 based on a vote. Drapetomania used to be a diagnosis—a disease causing slaves to run away. Un‐til 2012, someone struggling with their gender identity, had gender identity disorder; It still exists, but they renamed it to gender dysphoria. Disease is a classification for some people to rationalize a difference that they don't understand. If some‐one is doing something abnor‐mal, or unlike the majority, they must be sick.

If somebody becomes dependent on a substance, they're sick, but if the substance they're dependent on was pre‐scribed, they're getting healthy.

Before the doctor looked at his 30-question checklist, I was normal.

Keon Madani is very passionate about mental health and illness because sometimes people treat it as such a black-and-white thing, when it's the complete opposite. Keon Madoni is trying to pursue a career in healthcare because the grey goop that people call "mental illness" is far from being complete. Their own journey took a lot of trial and error, failure, relapse, and hardship. They are very lucky to have the support system that they have, because they would not be where they are today without them.

ISSUE 15 | 19
Photo by Ann H. on Pexels.

nothing to do but wait

The first time I drowned I was 6  years old.

When you drown your instincts  tell you to kick and jump, you  are desperate for oxygen.  You’re gagged by water, and  you can’t scream for help. They  can’t see you, you’re down way  too deep. You can only pray  that someone realizes  something is wrong.

And all you can do is wait.  Waiting is the worst part of  drowning.

You can only wait so long  before involuntary spasmodic  breaths drag water into your  windpipe. The only thing that  overcomes the agony of  running out of air is breathing in  water. The distance between  you and the surface grows and  blocks out the sunlight, as you  become heavier and heavier  with each hopeless gasp. Your  lungs begin to burn and the  pressure from within makes  you feel like you are going to  be torn apart. You know you’re  a lost cause, but you can’t help  but struggle. Eventually, your

lungs give out and you take a  deep, deep breath. After that,  it’s all black.

Then you awake on the  surface, your chest  compressed, and your lips  pressed from CPR. You begin  to throw up water and  excruciating pain remains in  your chest, but above all of that  you can’t help but feel relief  that you can once again  breathe air and see the light.

The second time I drowned it  was different. The second time  was much, much worse.

I tried to hold my breath in  absolute denial, but to no avail.  I struggled to reach the surface,  flailing my limbs towards the  light for dear life, same as  before. The water filled my  lungs and anchored me to the  bottom, same as before. The  pain was excruciating and  everything I tried felt helpless,  same as before. And once  again, a deep, deep breath in.  Only this time it was different.

This time there was nobody

who could pull me out and  resuscitate me. At first they  tried, but I was too deep and  too heavy. They gave up. Worst  of all, this time I did not faint. I had to keep waiting.

Water used to be refreshing, it  was a remedy for exhaustion,  and it cleaned my wounds. But  it feels like I’ve swallowed a  grenade. I was aware of  everything my body was  feeling, it felt like the grenade  had internally exploded and my  body remained intact. There  was no square inch of me that  hurt less than the others, no  redeeming instance that I could  drag out and cling on to. The  water that surrounded me  swallowed my tears and muted  my screams, as if it tried to  eliminate even the slightest  form of release that I could  have had. I needed to get back,  but there was not nearly  enough strength in my body to  swim back up. It dawned on me  that I was not going to make it,  but I held out hope that things  would change.

20 | NOV 2022

There was nothing to do but to  wait.

At a certain point, everything  became numb, I was  unmoving, and I could see that  the ripples in the surface of the  water had dissipated. Everyone  had left and yet I laid there  alone, immersed in a lifeless  realm, devoid of sunlight and  comfort. A maelstrom of  thoughts and emotions had  overcome me, I was inundated  with anger, confusion, anxiety  and hopelessness all at once.  Will anybody come back? What  have I done to deserve this?  Am I going to die? I felt  destroyed. I did not want to  keep waiting. But I was in an  impossible situation, so all I  continued to do was close my  eyes in hope that this would all  stop.

I kept waiting. I stepped away from my body  and looked down at myself.  Looking at my hands, their dark  tone had sunken to something  ashen and lifeless. The water  held me in its frigid claws and

robbed my skin of its usual  warmth. I stared for a moment  at my blue lipped face and my  blank expression, gazing  endlessly through nothingness.  This was not the same face  that I saw in the mirror every  day, it was a hollow shell. Still  though, tiny bubbles hung  above me as if to signal that  there was some hope in  holding on.

So, I kept waiting.

I couldn’t handle this wait.  Moving without pain, aches,  was just one thing I used to  take for granted. Sometimes I  looked up to try and find the  sun, hoping that it could  magically shine through the  endless depths of the water. To  look up and see its golden  arching rays that cascaded  across the sky brilliantly, and  warmly caressed my face, was  nothing but a faded memory. I  often tried to remember what it  was to take in fresh air and feel  replenished. If I could, I would  take a deep, deep breath and  suck in the air as if nothing had  ever been so sweet. I miss my

family and my friends, there is  so much I have to say that I  cannot. And still I continue to  wonder what could have been  if I was able to make it out. But  I didn’t.

And at some point, I don’t know  when, I realized that I had to  accept my new reality. It wasn’t  happy or enjoyable, but it was  life. I had to accept that I was  going to live in this realm that  was devoid of sunlight forever.  I had to accept that nobody  was going to come back for  me. I had to accept that I was  going to have to carry on  breathing underwater. It was  pointless to keep waiting. So, I  stopped.

I stopped waiting.

Keon Madani is very passionate about mental health and illness because sometimes people treat it as such a black-and-white thing, when it's the complete opposite. Keon Madoni is trying to pursue a career in healthcare because the grey goop that people call "mental illness" is far from being complete. Their own journey took a lot of trial and error, failure, relapse, and hardship. They are very lucky to have the support system that they have, because they would not be where they are today without them.

ISSUE 15 | 21
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.


The work is done on glass with oil paints, size 20/30 centimeters. An angel is depicted, protecting us from everything, helping us recover and find the strength to fight.

poisedARTISTS Amy Bassin and  Mark Blickley

a life rooted in self-confident quiet dignity allowing poised acceptance of an uncertain future

ISSUE 15 | 23
ARTIST Sergey Dobrynov Sergey Dobrynov is a Ukranian artist specializing in glass painting. Sergey has participated in many art exhibitions and competitions. He hopes to tell his stories after undergoing many surgeries to eliminate scars. Theworkspresented show hisinner world. Glasspainting on theleft by Sergey Dobrynov New York artist Amy Bassin and writer Mark Blickley collaborate on text-based art pieces and videos.

the l(onely) companion

Loneliness expands within the cavities between my cardiac and pleural apices, asphyxiates the nostalgia-tinted dreams that these alveoli perfuse into my crimson streams.

My atherosclerotic vessels of hope have sunk— have become shipwrecks festered by liquid rust and it's starting to make sense why the most debilitating, dehumanizing sentence in prison is social isolation.

But what about us— the figuratively free,

in the forlorn cage of this vast world trapped alone, and only Loneliness steps forward to offer compassionate companionship; convinces you that you exist in the prison and presence of your intrusive thoughts; offers sensation in the numbness of existence, perception in the blindness of persistence.

Loneliness embraces you like a well-wisher only to plunge the sword of betrayal into your spine and while you pine for affection,

yearn for conversation and long for communication, Loneliness makes you tightrope on the barbed wire of sanity, only to have isolation tempt you into the alluring claws of insanity.

But you will find the softness in the hearts of the forsaken, their laughter in the midst of all this grief, the eloquence of the soliloquies sung in the suffocating silence the transience of their suffering in the face of their magnanimous resilience

Heba Khan is a mental health counsellor who has seen the deteriorating and insidious effects that loneliness has had on the vulnerable members of society. Heba Khan has also seen the way the pandemic and social isolation has impacted people across the world. This poem aims to capture the way that people that have endured trauma, grief and suffering have a desireto heal, havehopeand resilience.

24 | NOV 2022
Photo by Marcelo Moreira on Pexels.

frontliner's day


When duty calls, has there been time to celebrate amidst the blood storms? No, she will do so anyway. In fact, her children at home are still waiting for the clock, whose hands are still paused since pre­pandemic  times, to bring to them news that their mother can come back home.  But, like a storm in the belly of Jupiter, it just does not end: an indelible mark on the surface of our histories, it has yet to end.  So, she strokes her children’s heads with the gentle caress of a text that says, “I will be there soon, I will be there soon.”  but she is not yet there, instead she continues her stride against the gravity of that Jupiterian storm, moving in retrograde from her clock at home, marked red as the blood she transfuses every single day for the sake of life.

Ges Jaicten is a Filipino poet and a student of literature, currently participating in workshops and submitting various writings online. In the past 4 years, their education has been provided by their mom who works tirelessly as a nurse in the UK. This submission is dedicated to her work in the field these past 2 years during the COVID-19 crisis.

by Marcelo Moreira on Pexels.

ISSUE 15 | 25
Photo March 15, 2020, Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). On March 9, 2022, presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (Son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.) proposed that March 15th should be declared as Frontliner’s Day.


Palm Sunday is just a day. “Hosanna” can be cried out any day any time from anywhere: a crowd, a rooftop banging a whisk or a spoon on a copper pot or a metal mixing bowl or all alone, as the sun dips a prayer, blushing, while the healthcare professionals — weary-boned doctors and nurses, technicians and workers — slowly make their — Land Before Time near-extinction — way home.


Today, this one lies alone—desperate for a physical “other”. Another with her duplicate selves—young bodies—clinging, clamoring at her—all hours, minutes of the day. Neither can get away to different spaces, from their own unique voices vying for attention—at times soothing, other times terrifying. All the while down the street—a woman just wants the chance to see her 88 year old father—now in hospice— through a window.

The screens continue to warn, throw numbers while floating heads gather and pretend “it’s just as good”, “it works just as well”. Still. Any of us would trade places with Somebody. Except for the 36-year-old in the ICU, struggling to breathe while the only one who speaks to him is a stranger, her own breathing ragged and worn.

But that’s a distance—until it isn’t. When you can feel it crawl closer, closer to your circle, breathing on your neck. While you press the anxiety down for the sake of a touch.

Larissa Peters grew up in Indonesia and moved to California last year after living on the East Coast for over 10 years—in the middle of a pandemic. Being somewhat of a nomad, this is only one of the many cities she's lived in these last 40 years. Her poems have appeared in many places including Adelaide Magazine, The PlumTreeTavern and Rabid Oak. Artwork by The Muse Graphics Member.

after snow

For Kurt (1932 – 2018)

We’re in your room, waiting for you to wake.

Light filtering through the dirty glass Tufts of grass and twigs slash through snow,  some tracks crisscrossing – what animals ran through here  last night?

Snow grows whiter and whiter and whiter within  our insteps, the light rich, the branches stir. When you stir, the day cuts you open: If I am not  my body,

If I am not my mind, then what am I against  time?

You wince from the bedsore on your sacrum and  the nurse, stroking your head, up­titrates the  morphine.

On a smartphone, we watch a video of a white  cell expiring to understand what we can never see live –how the cell sprouts a strand of beads as a  warning.

Invisible white blood cells are swelling and you  look out at the sky, chalky white, with the roads plowed.

Yet strong winds dust the asphalt with snow and white blood cells, like drifts, are faithful to no  curb.

It is the last time we will see you. Overnight, the freeze. The trees iced, people slip on ice, the soul slips from the body.

Only hours ago, you were swallowing apple  juice, we held the cup, looking into the whites of your  eyes.

Rigor mortis and the icicles dripping on the  stoop, the mounds of snow that will grow dirtier and dirtier and, underneath, the grass slicked back.

What a world it will soon be ­­ of slush and  patches of grass, of crocuses and daffodils in the snow, of hungry  bees

It is still January. Your children sit by your side, but they have to leave, catch flights, fly home.

Venesha Pravin's book Disorder was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2015, and she is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Sarton Poetry Prize and the Northern California Bookseller Association Golden Poppy Award. Currently, she teaches at theUniversity of California, Merced Artwork by The Muse Graphics Member.

ISSUE 15 | 27

a finger painter derailed by  circumstance

I used to smear paint on these same walls for hours, oblivious, and perfectly content. Primary colors swirled together quaintly. Life imitating art imitating life, replicated. But somewhere along the way I started worrying about my posture and a 401k. And utilities and sodium and calories. And new school clothes for the munchkin. And rent and car payments and exercise. Yet at night I dream about feeling the wet textured slime oozing between my fingers. Creating a valley full of elk and squirrels. Or lily pads with frogs and ducks in a pond. A hellish forest fire blaze belching smoke skyward along the pale coastal highway. Infinite fractals spring forth from ancient man-made mythological and dark desires. The quest for more light is endless. How many stars must I chase only to ignore the closest sunlight on my face? How many solid relationships must I flee from because the idea of commitment is too stifling, too vanilla, and too final? How many screens must I view daily in order to quell my boredom and curiosity? I need to unleash something feral. I need a tangible tool in my hands. I need to entwine and breed with chaos. Verily, I vow to continue to map the constellations by torchlight while smearing finger paint on my cave walls.

28 | NOV 2022
Eric Lawson is a writer and performer. He is the survivor of both a pulmonary embolism and a serious back injury. He has made a full recovery and co-hosts a podcast on YouTube called Make Your Own Fun to inspire other artists to pursuetheir artist ambitionsaswell. Photo by Jill Burrow on Pexels.

health care

Binod Dawadi is from Purano Naikap 13, Kathmandu, Nepal. He has completed his Master’s Degree from Tribhuvan University in Major English. He likes to read and write literary forms. He has created many poems and stories. Hedreamsto bea great man in hislife.

Health is wealth your health is, Your all things your happiness, Sadness your difficulties and your, Happiness are impacting on your health, As well as your health impacts vin making, Such things,

In the world the greatest thing is wealth, Without health we can’t get our dreams, Our ambitions our goals, The wealth is nothing it can’t buy your, Health it can’t buy your time and your works,

Health is greatest thing in this world, This is because when you feel weak, As well as when you become sick, You can’t work, So love, care, protect your health,

Don’t take drugs and alcohols, They will destroy your body parts, They will destroy your body’s organs, They will seize your long life, As last your death will occurs,

Take only home made and, Don’t take jung foods. So love and care your health.

ISSUE 15 | 29

"Listening" is an image with any overlapping shots. Within e stethoscope is a forest of trees and branches making the ir we breathe. While we listen to the climate, we listen to ourselves. We live in tandem.

30 | NOV 2022
Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier is an Indigenous artist/photographer creating cover images for Synkroniciti, Pine Cone Review, Feeel Magazine, Dyst, Arachne Press, Wild Musette, Gigantic Sequins, The Unmooring, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Gateway Review, Doubleback Review, and many more. Walking her Siberian Husky named Kiowa under an aurora borealis is forever a dream.

covid portrait

Pawel Pacholec works with collage technique putting emphasis on composition and esthetic outcome where each element is placed carefully into position. Their compositions are kept in the Dadaist style. They studied arts in the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk (Poland) and photography at the University of Arts in Poznan (Poland). They have been published in many magazines and have been exhibited in many countries including the USA, Canada, China, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Germany, and Spain. ARTIST Pawel Pacholec

fear of people  because of  asthma

I remember as if it was yesterday when I was fat and I found out I had asthma. Of course, it was hard for me to be only nine years old when I found out about it. Although I had some symptoms, such as headaches or minor migraines, I didn't want to tell others lightly. I thought to myself that I might be worse off and that I definitely wanted to have peace in my life. I often wanted to play with others around me, but this world became so cruel that I could not have anyone, so I was often left alone. I frequently worried about whether I was different from others or whether it was a fate that I had to follow at such a young age. Asthma is very difficult in the life of someone who is ill, and I doubt that anyone can get out of it healthy. Over time, if left untreated, it becomes a very sick condition. I have had parents who are always eager to help their child, to be happier than ever before and have a normal, fast-paced childhood.

I had my first visit to the doctor when I was nine years old, and I remember that I often had to carry a pump with me, so I couldn't continue to talk properly. I often still imagined that I didn't have what I wanted, and those are the right people in my life. Life only made sense if I continued to believe in myself -that I could somehow get over all those diseases of the world properly. And at the doctor’s, when I came still, I was aware that my time had begun. And I had to be scared because asthma is severe. It leads to


problems and suffocation at night, which is why I struggled with it the most. I couldn't eat because of the pain, which I confessed to the doctor, and he of course advised me to be strong. He said that it was natural and that my condition was not worse than some others. This gave me the motivation to continue to fight more than ever for myself and to be the winner of my story in the end. I believed that happiness was hiding far away and that no one could stop me from dreaming some of my dreams that I had planned. I just wanted the world to be mine -- it is unfair that children get sick in any way. I was a dinosaur then, but even today I am a boy who always dreams of achieving something. And I believe that everything happens for a reason.

The doctor gave me some pills and pumps like I said, but I certainly felt uncomfortable. My concern was whether I would be generally accepted by people today or tomorrow and whether I would find a girl who still might have wanted to be with me. But she couldn't get over it. And I doubted more and more as I grew up if I could make myself something. But again, I remained strong more than ever - I would say that I was partially cured, and that asthma still accompanies me from time to time. And it usually happens when the weather is bad and cloudy. I am happiest when the sun is shining because I don't care what others will say. I was just

afraid if I was different from the others, I would have to be everything I am not. Because they still want me to be a kind of shadow of the past that will drive me to some tears that are paler and paler. Maybe my world was not as I dreamed, but I believed that it would be somewhere if I found it myself. So, I learned that asthma is a natural process of man and that no one and nothing can stop me from dreaming. Only I am the creator of what I dream and want.

I struggle with asthma because it is a disease that still destroys my lungs and I am not sure if everything is still okay with me, but I know that there are always good people somewhere who will understand the loneliness and care if I survive. Because, after all, the most precious thing of all is the one life I have, and I have to understand that time is money. Now that I often cough a lot, I remember that someone far away in the world has nothing to eat. Maybe that makes me realize that not everything is so black and that there is always some happiness around the corner. I feel happiness when I value myself and when I find people around me ready to help me when it is most needed. My life only makes sense if I find people for myself and if I had a magic wand, I would just want to not be sick anymore because it affects everything I want to become. And my dream is just to be a doctor who will treat others and say that, from my experience, asthma or another

disease does not care if you react in time, but also that we must be aware that life is short.

I often have to work through some challenging things, but also hope that one day I will be beaten again by an old man who will play football with his father who is my best friend and my mother who will help me whenever it is difficult. Because I know that they are my only comrades, always have been and always will remain; and everything else is fake. I'm used to having asthma and controlling it, but I'm afraid it will get worse and worse again. But there is justice and God, He looks at me whenever necessary and knows that I only believe in Him. And the asthma is still there, but I'm happy because happiness is anything but pain when you're young.

Maid Čorbić from Tuzla, 22 years old. In his spare time he writes poetry that repeatedly praised as well as rewarded. He also selflessly helps others around him, and he is moderator of the World Literature Forum WLFPH (World Literature Forum Peace and Humanity) for humanity and peace in the world in Bhutan. He is also the editor of the First Virtual Art portal led by Dijana Uherek Stevanovic, and the selector of the competition at a page of the same name that aims to bring together all poets around the world. Many works have also been published in anthologies.

ISSUE 15 | 33

James, as the doctors and staff at St. Mark’s Regional Hospital in San Diego insisted on calling him, applied pancake make-up over the band-aid camouflaging the skin lesion on his chin. He was glad to be home, sur‐rounded by his Nippon fig‐urines, the ornate lampshades with exotic scarves draped over the top, and his trunk of over‐flowing satin and silk cos‐tumes, boas, several strands of pearls, and oodles of costume jewelry. His move to San Diego had been a windfall—the most money he’d ever made doing drag. He lived to entertain. On stage, he was Jasmine and loved. Standing-room only. Now he was sick. How long would he be able to afford his apart‐ment in Hillcrest?

The obituaries from three newspapers spread across the coffee table. Circled in black were the names of seven young men.

Jasmine wanted to live, to work again at Glitter Glam Drag. But James didn’t.

No can do, James. You’re not going to pull me down to‐day. It’s Pride. I’m going to party.

Donna was coming.

At St. Mark’s, the only person who bathed and dressed him, changed his sheets and consoled him, was Donna, the pretty dyke nurse who was now his source for food, medication, and shots —his entire life.

It was Sunday, her day off, and she promised to take him to Pride. Jasmine had never missed a parade, but James’s taunts of looking buttugly opened more scabs than he had on his body.

Jasmine dressed in black sweatpants and a gold lá‐may blouse, brushed her long stringy hair, pulled it into a ponytail, and clipped it with a rhinestone barrette. She ap‐plied red lip gloss and blue eye‐shadow.

When James fell ill and admitted himself to St. Mark’s Regional, the doctor asked how many men he had slept with. Was he kidding? “Honey, how many stars are there in the heavens?” Hundreds, thou‐sands, in parks, bath houses, clubs, from San Francisco to LA and San Diego. The doctor had kept a straight face when James answered. The nurse turned her back on him.

Gay liberation tore the hinges off closet doors. Men like him left the Midwest for the coasts and found a bacchanal of men, a confectionery of sex and drugs, a feast for the starv‐ing who thought they were alone in the world.

James’s life had been about dick and where to get the next fuck. Jasmine’s life was drag, antique stores, and Vogue Mag‐azine.

When his conservative, homophobic, fundamental

Christian parents caught him in his mother’s dress and high heels, they demanded, “Get out now and don’t you ever come back.” He promised them, “I’ll live up to your expectations. I’ll make the most of a trashy life.” Jasmine grabbed a green boa from the trunk and wrapped it around her neck. You think that’ll hide your Kaposi’s Sar‐coma, James baited. Jasmine tugged at the feathers that made her neck feel on fire.

Grace Jones’s, “Pull up to the Bumper” boomed from the ghetto blaster. Jasmine wanted to dance, but her legs ached. You can’t even walk, sucker.


“Shut-up, James.” Jasmine said, pulling herself up and moving to the window.

When he heard a car, he backed out of view. James never wanted Donna to know what she meant to Jasmine.

He held onto furniture as he made his way to the red vel‐vet couch and sat, poised, wait‐ing.

Donna knocked and opened the door.

“Well, don’t you look jazzy,” she said, pushing a wheelchair inside with a rain‐bow flag attached.

You’ll look like a sick bastard in that baby buggy, James bullied. Everyone will know you have AIDS.

“I can’t go.”

“It’s up to you.”

“Are we so pathetic we need a parade?”

“Yes.” Donna pinned a button that read, Gay by birth, fabulous by choice, on his blouse. “We need to pump our‐selves up. If we don’t, who will?”

“They want all queers dead. Looks like they’ll get their way.”

“Not everyone. “The Blood Sisters keep donating blood, and they’re delivering food and medicine.”

“Thank God for lesbians,” he said and wondered if gay men would do the same if les‐bians were dying.

Donna released the footrests on the wheelchair.

“I’m not going. Everyone will know I have AIDS.”

“You do, James.”

He looked away, not wanting to disappoint the woman who showed him so much compassion and strength.

“What if I run into some‐one I know?”

“You’ll know what to say.”

“Like I’m dying of pneumonia. Like all those fake obituaries,” he said, kicking the coffee ta‐ble. “Fucking closet cases. Even in death.” Jasmine felt the weepies coming on. James scolded, Be a man. Only sissies cry. But Jasmine was female, too. “In my obit, I want you to put that I died of AIDS. I want everyone to know.”

He held onto the seat of the wheelchair and winced as he pulled himself up. The smell of barbecue wafting in from the open door reminded him of summers back in Kansas City, his mom cooking the catfish that he and his dad caught in the Missouri River, his dog Corky —was she still alive?—joyful memories that always left a wake of loneliness.

Today was supposed to be happy, floats with dancing bare-chested boys, banners, dykes on bikes.

Donna shoved the wheel‐chair forward. “I’ve brought wa‐

ter and trail mix.”

“Poor substitute for pop‐pers and quaaludes.”

Donna laughed, pushed him outside, and shut the door. The ocean air breathed vitality into his frail body. He raised his face to the sun and began to gather life like flowers. A bouquet of drifting purple and orange balloons floated high to‐ward the swirling white splashes in a blue background. He heard applause and whistles as he watched a float pass by on Park Boulevard. “Go faster, Donna. I don’t want to miss anything.” For just one after‐noon he wanted to wave the rainbow flag and cheer the pa‐rade on and forget about him‐self and all the dying young men.

DC Diamondopolous is an award-winning short story, and flash fiction writer with over 300 stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. DC's stories have appeared in: Penmen Review, Progenitor, 34th Parallel, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, Lunch Ticket, and others. DC was nominated twice in 2020 for the Pushcart Prize and in 2020 and 2017 for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net. DC’s short story collection Stepping Up is published by Impspired. She lives on the California central coast with her wifeand animals.

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Photo by Tim Bieler on Unsplash

natasha verhoeff child  health confrence abstract

Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that impacts interpersonal skills and behaviour. Children and youth with ASD typically receive increased support at school. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted education across the globe, resulting in school being delivered online. This may have had unique effects on children and youth with ASD but research on this topic has not been synthesized.

Aim: To investigate the following research question: what are children and youth with ASD’s experiences with online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Method: Arksey and O’Malley’s five-stage scoping review methodology was used. Systematic searches of MEDLINE, PsycInfo, and ERIC databases were conducted to identify eligible articles.

Results: The database searches resulted in 34 unique articles of which eight were eligible for this review. Thematic analysis of the eligible articles revealed the following themes regarding children and youth with ASD’s online learning experiences: 1) Some preferred online learning while others preferred in-person learning 2) There is a lack of educational support for them and their families 3) Changes in eating behaviour were experienced 4) Adapting to schedule changes was particularly challenging.

Conclusion: Children and youth with ASD have had unique experiences with online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help with their transition to and experience with online learning, more educational supports should be made available to them and their families. Additionally, future research on this topic should be done with larger sample sizes and investigate factors that promote wellness and resiliency so that these factors can be maximized.

Artwork by Aditya Kalra.

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Natasha Verhoeff is a graduate of McMaster University’s Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences Program and is currently a medical student at the University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine. This abstract is based on a scoping review Natasha conducted in 2022 during her final year of the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program. She gave a poster presentation of this scoping review at the 2022 McMaster Child Health Conference.
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the guasha  treatment

In the past six years, I have been sick many times, and I have also used a lot of Chinese scraping therapy, or Guasha Treament. This is a selection of photos after 7 times, combined into a pop artwork.

peau,  pear, pain

ARTIST Yannick De Serre

Peau, Peur, Pain is an art piece made on Japanese paper. This inkjet printing on crumpled paper was enhanced with stitches: a technique that was learned during a medical rotation in a northern community. Pores are created from the crumpled texture and the choice of colour. The paper becomes like skin. With only one look, we can feel the pain. This piece was made during the pandemic... It's a crucial feeling we've all felt.

Hua Huang is a contract photographer of, which is China's largest commercial photography agency. Starting their photography in 2001, Hua is an intermediate member of the China Folklore Photography Association, one of the most influential photography associationsin China.

Yannick De Serre holdstwobachelor'sdegrees–the first in Visual Arts and the other in Nursing. Since 2004, Yannick de Serre has been working as a registered nurse in the emergency department which has influenced his approach to art. He describes his art as personal, sensitive, yet rough in a manner that depicts the violenceof reality.

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resisting the ableist notions  is possible only if we are  truly cared for

As a combination of art  and science, at the heart of the  field of medicine is something  of a more humanistic nature  which is the patient­doctor  interaction (Sfakianakis).

Although medicine might treat  one’s condition, it sometimes  fails to provide the expected  care. Since it is quite limited in  understanding bodies as  discrete beings, it abstracts  patients to data, which can lead  to feelings of desensitization or  devaluation in patients (Boyer).  Additionally, the dominating  ableist notions can influence  the medical field and cause

discrimination in interactions of  medical professionals with  individuals who are known as  sick women (Hedva 8). As the  barrier in understanding  discrete bodies persists, the  abstraction of patients remains  inevitable; however, medical  professionals can still prevent  the devaluation of patients by  distinguishing the concept of  care from data collection. To  value every patient, care  should be the main focus of the  medical professionals, and data  collection should be  supplementary rather than a  means of clarifying care. A

focus on the notion of care is  also important in resisting the  ableist notions to honour who  Hedva calls the sick women. A  care­focused relationship  between the medical  professionals and the sick women can resist the ableist  notions by valuing the humanity  of the sick women.

The abstraction of  patients to data is inevitable as  both medicine and medical  research are incapable of  understanding people’s health  condition simply by glancing at  the human body in its entirety  and the humanity that lies

within. Boyer emphasizes that,  “Medicine hyper­responds to  the body’s unruly event of  illness by transmuting it into  data”. To tackle this barrier,  medicine sets the abstraction of  patients as an objective to  provide effective treatment. The  abstraction process involves  collecting numerical data from  patients as well as assigning  numerical values to sensations  and pain. Next, the medical  professionals analyze the data  and choose treatment  strategies which could  potentially balance the  numbers. As for medical  research, its objective is to  design or discover treatments.  But due to a similar barrier, it  uses technologized math to  abstract the bodies of the  human population to statistics  that determine the likelihood of  falling ill, staying well, dying,  and healing for assessing the  effectiveness of a treatment.

Though inevitable, the  abstraction of patients has  considerable consequences.  The medical professionals can  get so caught up in collecting  data, that they can forget to  take the time to hear a patient’s  own narrative of their health.  Hedva describes this by  reflecting on the patient­doctor  encounter: “The distance swims  in the air that you both inhale. It  distorts the exchange of two  bodies in close proximity,  making a little void that yawns  open. It can feel like you’re  speaking a language that your  doctor not only can’t  understand, but doesn't care to  hear” (Hedva). If a doctor is too

focused on reading the  collected abstract data instead  of listening, patients can feel a  dark vast distance between  themselves and the doctor.  They might view the doctor as a  stranger with whom they have  no chance of connecting. Many  of these patients are sick  women who have chronic  illness or disabilities, and are  confined to these uncertain yet  long­term patient­doctor  relationships with no trust and  connectivity (Hedva). The  distance they feel with their  doctors while interacting with  them is what can lead to  feelings of devaluation in  patients.

The consequences of  abstraction can be minimized  by directing the focus of  medicine towards the abstract  notion of care, and making the  notion of data collection  supplementary to care (Boyer).  The notion of care involves an  equal relationship between the  doctors and patients, which has  a foundation of mutual trust,  and a resistant nature towards  the dominating discriminatory  notions. What Hedva says  about the importance of trust in  care is: “It’s the only force I can  think of that might alleviate the  vast distance between us, as  well as the vast distances  between the many parts of  myself, not because it will  diminish the distance, but  because it will honor it. It will  acknowledge that the distance  is here”. Therefore, medical  professionals and students  should not assume their  profession of medicine is

sufficient for gaining the trust of  patients. Rather, they should  attempt to establish a mutual  trust by treating patients,  including the sick women, as  their equals. The equality in  patient­doctor interaction is  achieved by honouring the  patients with all their parts and  hearing them out. A trusting  relationship with a foundation of  equality which values the  humanity of all the patients  including the sick women, is the  true notion of care which is  capable of resisting against  discriminatory ableist notions.


1. Boyer, Anne. “Data's Work Is Never Done.” Guernica,March30,2018.https://

2. Hedva, Johanna. “Letter to A Young Doctor.” Triplecanopy, 2018. https://www.canopy‐

3. Hedva, Johanna. "Sick Woman Theory." Mask Magazine, 2016.

4. Sfakianakis, Alexandros. “Medicine Is the Sci‐ence and Art of Healing.” Otolaryngology, April 25, 2016.‐ceedings/medicine-is-the-science-and-art-ofhealing-43384.html

Rose Ajdar is a fourth year Life Sciences  student at McMaster University. Rose was born  in Toronto, Ontario and is originally from Iran. As  someone who has always been interested in  medicine and healthcare, Rose is aware that  healthcare is a crucial element of our society.  However, she believes true healthcare is something beyond taking blood tests and  collecting samples from patients. True  healthcare is indeed characterized by empathy and building trusting relationships that respect  patients’ narratives and resist discrimination.

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These sculptures made of paper, fabric, and faux fur not only represent our minimal world view, but the stress of dealing with illness. Seeing friends contract HIV, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and

concluding with my father’s death due to brain cancer, I became enthralled by the concept of disease. Our psyche’s, represented by the wall, are riddled with loss and regret, pockets of disease

which gather and froth. This project is a way for me to cope with those feelings in ways only an artist can, through color and texture. Here we are, stuck in our bubbles while the real enemy eats us inside.

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Keith Buswell graduated with a BFA in art University of Nebraska--Lincoln. He works with various printmaking processes such as screenprinting, intaglio and mono printing and dabbles in drawing and multimedia. He currently is a member of Karen Kunc’s Constellation Studios where he creates his prints. His work has been shown in the United States, Egypt, Dubai, France and Italy. Notably, Keith received the Perry Family Award in 2018 and second place in the 40 Under 40 Showcase in Annapolis, MD and third place at the Under Pressure print show in Fort Collins, CO. Originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa, he currently lives in Lincoln with his husband Brad and hisdog Max.

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Kylie Meyerman graphics Celina Liu Angel Cai Cezara Ene Aditya Kalra Karthyayani Ramesh Sabrina Sefton layout Joanna Deng Aditya Kalra Kylie Meyerman Julia Sharobim Thilini Wijesekera
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ISSN 2563-7274 (Print) ISSN 2563-7282 (Online)

published Nov 2022