Readers, meet Rufus.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!