After Disability, Rufus
Comments 3

Does Chronic Pain Need a Mascot? (My Answer? Yes.)

Readers, meet Rufus.

rufus copy

Rufus ain’t got time for nonsense.

I feel that a mascot is needed in my life. You know, a cheerleader who understands how hard life can be when feeling physically terrible and having your attention constantly split in half. Chronic pain is vague by definition; it can be widespread or localized in the body, stabbing or dull, intense or flat. We only have the unifying term of “spoonie,” which is derived from the Spoon Theory. While that does a great job of describing why we power down without warning (because we’ve “run out of spoons,” each spoon representing a daily activity), it doesn’t give me a good visual besides — well, cutlery.

I wanted to show the chronic pain and illness experience, but I needed something that would also put a smile on my face. Like, “Yeah, chronic pain is exhausting and endless. Let me explain my day to you. Let me help you understand. I’ll try to make you laugh while I talk about it, because I know how depressing this topic is.”  

I couldn’t design that character myself, though. Here is the extent of my artistic abilities:


I can’t draw.

My sister, Caroline Kain Schooley, picked up on my strange frustration. She’s a graphic designer and digital artist, and after discussing a mascot, Caroline plucked Rufus out of the ether and brought him to grumpy, glorious life.

Rufus is our anthropomorphic personification of chronic pain, and he’s named after the mascot from our alma mater, Ohio University. He is cranky, exhausted, rumpled, and exasperated. He has many pill bottles and topical creams. He sleeps more than is socially acceptable and walks like an eighty-year-old turtle. Rufus is, for lack of a better phrase, my spirit animal.

Caroline and I are very excited about Rufus. We decided to explore his world and his life so that we could impart upon others what patients have to go through. This turned into the skeleton for a coloring book, something neither of us has ever done before; the above picture will serve as the cover (not my drawing, obviously). Current and new subscribers to this blog will receive the cover as a slightly altered coloring book page! Coloring is a form of mindfulness, and mindfulness is great for pain control. So get out those finger paints and get to work!



We will be imparting more details about Rufus as the project progresses. Someday soon we’ll have a book up for sale, one that details the difficulties of chronic pain but still maintains a sense of humor. It’ll feature Caroline’s art, because she’s the one who inherited that talent from our mother.

By the way — If you want to say hi to Caroline or talk about artsy stuff, her email is!


  1. says

    Ha! Hey Jennifer – I named my bad flare pain “Matilda” And yes, coloring is good – but I can only do that for 20 or 30 mins. max because it makes my trapezoids bunch up & then they and my neck go haywire.

    Looking forward to your book. 100% of non-chronic pain people….. and 99% of Drs. simply just don’t understand C/P.

    If you need any other people of note to comment in your book – please check out Dr. Martin Cheatle (Clinical Psychologist and Head of Pain & Addiction studies) at UPenn. He teaches, speaks all over the world & actually “gets” chronic pain. He has been the most helpful, kind person of all at UPenn, even more so than the head of their Pain Mgt. Program or the Ortho surgeons at the Musculoskeletal Center. He is WONDERFUL and truly God’s gift to Chronic Pain sufferers.

    Your new friend in fabulosity, Martha

    PS: Do you think your sister can design a female, long haired cat with a polka dot bikini to match Rufus’ polka dot boxers? Her name should be ZsaZsa, for the rare days / hours we are feeling sassy! I think that would be a nice counterpart for your book. Besides, she could really antagonize Rufus, who needs it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Martha! Thank you so much for the comment, it was lovely. Also, Matilda was the name of my cat when we rescued her!! (Now she’s Hobbes, even though she’s a girl. She just looks exactly like Hobbes from “Calvin and Hobbes”!) I also love ZsaZsa — so do my mom and sister. Maybe we could add ZsaZsa to the coloring book! I love the idea of a sassy cat with a polka dot bikini.

      I have trouble coloring as well (my neck doesn’t like the angle), though I try to do it for as long as I can. I even just got a calligraphy book to try learning that. As for your doctor suggestions, definitely going to check Cheatle out! I’m so glad there’s a head of pain management you can endorse like that. ❤


  2. Leesa Sonnichsen says

    Jenny, this is a brilliant idea. I love it. I can’t wait to watch Rufus come to life.


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