Battling rheumatoid arthritis – American Ninja Warrior style. #WeAreAllAbel
The TV series American Ninja Warrior (ANW) is a show where contestants compete to win the grand prize by finishing an obstacle course requiring strong, agile and determined athleticism. Contestants must have faith that they can conquer any obstacle put in front of them – the same type of faith some have when battling rheumatoid arthritis. In ANW contestant Abel Gonzalez’s case, this was true in the literal sense.
Abel grew up in Chicago with a rough childhood. His parents married young and had little financial means. In an interview with EverydayHealth, he said: “My dad was abusive. He sold tires at a flea market to try to help us get by. When I was 10, my mom and dad’s fighting escalated.” His parents eventually split up and Abel and his brothers were forced to split up. Abel and his brother were sent to live with family members in Texas, while his two younger brothers stayed behind to live with his mother in Chicago.
“I can remember my younger brothers sitting on the steps as Matthew and I drove away for good. It devastated me to be apart from my younger brothers. I was only 10. I thought that maybe I had caused my parents to get divorced,” Abel added.
The Aboriginal Children’s Hurt and Healing Initiative wanted to answer one simple question: What does pain look like? Not what it feels like, but what pain would look it if you had to express it on paper, or in this case, canvas.
In an interview with CBC News, John Sylliboy, community research co-ordinator with the Aboriginal Children’s Hurt and Healing Initiative, said: “Aboriginal children feel and experience pain just like anyone else. It’s just that they express their pain very differently. They don’t necessarily verbalize their pain, or they don’t express it outwardly through crying or through pain grimaces. A lot of kids, they just suck it up. That’s what they say all the time. ‘We just suck it up.'”
The research study spawned in 2008 when Margot Latimer, a clinical scientist at the Centre for Pediatric Pain Research at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, observed there was no First Nations youth being referred to their pain clinic at the IWK hospital.
“My painting is about pain and the black represents how she feels inside. But she has like this white kind of atmosphere and it separates it from her pain.” – Artist, 16-year-old
Today is the 5th annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, with Clara Hughes leading the campaign inviting all Canadians to talk, text and tweet and share on Facebook about mental health and help build a Canada free of the stigma of mental illness.
In a press release yesterday, Clara, Canada’s 6-time Olympic medalist and national Bell Let’s Talk ambassador since the launch of the initiative in 2010, said: “I’m really looking forward to kicking off the national conversation about mental health with Bell Let’s Talk Day 2015! Join us in the fight against the stigma that makes most who struggle with mental illness reluctant to ask for help.”
Mental illness is associated with other diseases, one of which is a type of arthritis called fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is characterized primarily by chronic widespread pain (CWP) in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and a heightened sensitivity to touch resulting in pain that can last for months.