This isn’t exactly breaking news — that happened in the craziness of HIMSS17 a couple of weeks ago — but I am now a member of The Walking Gallery of Healthcare. The Walking Gallery is a series of paintings on jackets, mostly, but not completely, created by artist/patient advocate Regina Holliday, meant to spark conversations about healthcare.
Each painting depicts a difficult healthcare situation that the wearer or a loved one of the wearer experienced. In my case, it is the story of my late father’s terrible experience in a poorly run community hospital as he was dying of a rare disease called multiple system atrophy, and my own advocacy as a result of his ordeal.
Holliday calls this one, “Miles to Go Before I Sleep,” likely because I undertook a bike tour from Chicago to Washington, D.C., in 2014 in my dad’s memory, and, likely, because I am a notorious night owl/occasional insomnia sufferer. I think there’s also some meaning in the fact that I have been a restless advocate, via my writing, for better care since I had to witness his suffering nearly five years ago. (I didn’t get to see a draft of the painting until I received my jacket, which is only fair, since as a rule, I don’t let story subjects see copies of my work prior to publication.)
The painting of me as a child is based on this photo of me as a baby. My dad didn’t have a mustache for long, but he did when I was a toddler.
To this day, my mother will tell you I was the most beautiful baby she ever saw. That’s a completely objective statement because she has no inherent bias at all.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I absolutely love the final result of the painting, which includes purple, the color of MSA awareness, at least in North America. The jacket itself cost a whopping $50 at Marshall’s because I wasn’t sure if people sent expensive or cheap sportcoats to be painted.