My Mum is a born caregiver, and one of the ways in which her giving nature manifests itself is her desire to help the sick. Now she, unlike me, detested the sciences, so the post-secondary study of medicine was never exactly part of her plan. But despite a lack of official training, that woman can walk into a drugstore and within minutes select an over-the-counter product to cure what ails you based on the small-print dosages written on the sides of bottle. So when my Mum became seriously ill, to the point where any physical movement was more or less impossible, I felt lost. Even at 17-years-old, it had never occurred to me that there would come a time when my mother would no longer assume the role of the family caregiver, even in a case of her own illness.And what was this crippling disease? This may sound anti-climactic, but it was a bad case of pneumonia, a severe infection of both lungs which causes tissues damage and an increase of inflammatory fluids therein. These stressors can lead to significant respiratory distress, which can in turn lead to death. For eighteen days, my mother was immobile in bed, and for months afterward she continued to be unable to exert herself in the slightest. Of course, however difficult her illness might have been for our family, I am grateful that we live in a time when treatment is available and that we weren’t forced to deal with the much more difficult instance of her death, which might well have occurred just over 100 years ago.
According to my mum, I had a really bad bout of scarlet fever when I was around four years old. From what I am told, I developed strep throat, which led to a rash, which led to a four-year-old kid who was too sick walk into the doctor’s office. After that dramatic visit to the family doctor, I was dosed up on antibiotics and then promptly recovered. Years later, I read the excellent Booky trilogy set in Depression-era Toronto by Bernice Thurman Hunter, and noticed a passing mention of a local family who had been quarantined due to scarlet fever. Drama Queen that I was at 12, I began to fantasize about the seemingly romantic fate of a death sentence due to an illness I had managed to overcome. From that time on, I’ve often taken moments to contemplate the fact that, had I been born earlier, there is a good chance that I might not have lived past the age of four. (more…)
Most of us remember playing doctor or nurse to an injured doll or teddy bear. When I was a child my Cabbage Patch doll often fell ill and my sisters and I nursed her back to health using a Fisher-Price Medical Kit. Developed over thirty years ago, this toy has stood the test of time and has also evolved several times since its inception. The kit contains everything a young doctor or nurse needs, including a stethoscope, thermometer and a sphygmomanometer, also known as a blood pressure cuff. These colourful children’s versions of the real instruments also helped my parents prepare me for trips to the paediatrician; I learned what to expect through play, which made check-ups and doctors visits much less stressful for all parties involved. (more…)
With exhibition-specific, hands-on activities that can be carried from gallery to gallery, the packs are meant to increase interactions and conversations between children and their parents about what they are seeing at the Museum and how health care has developed over time. Parents or older siblings hold the written instructions and answers, and lead children on an in-depth exploration of each gallery. The goal: create a better visitor experience for any age, with a higher retention of information. (more…)