PhotoHunter: Words

Back around 2004, I saw a documentary about tattoos and tattooing. One of the people they interviewed was an artist, Shelley Jackson, who was writing a book… on people….

Her idea was to write a book and then have the words in the book tattooed on people. The only public representation of the book would be the “words”– the people on which the words were written. The book was to be titled “SKIN“.

I was fascinated by this idea and wrote to Shelley. I received an answer and an invitation to submit an official “resume”, a letter outlining why I wanted to participate and a brief bio. I did and then received a confirmation that I was to be a word in the book.!

Almost two years elapsed from the day I sent in my request to the day I received by word. It was only 3 days later that I “became” “preserve”…




me as the word

me as the word

The word was very carefully chosen by Shelley. In ny “resume” I talked about my work in history research involving Indian Residential Schools; my interest in genaeology; the fact that in many ways, my past had been hidden from me by the actions of my birth father in preventing contact between me and my siblings; and other things which revolved around the idea of “preserving”. I had no idea, nor did Shelley, of what word she was going to give my until Shelley settled on the word “preserve” for me. I was lucky. Many more people would be assigned the words “and”, “to”, and “the”. Interestingly, many of those “words” felt a sense of appropriateness for the word chosen.

Once my word had been received from Shelly, I was to have it tattooed, in black, in a book font (no “fancy” script or lettering… no embellishment, no decoration), and uncapitalized unless the word was the fist word in the sentence. Evidence of the tattoo had to be submitted and the requirements were that there had to be a close-up image which showed that it was a tattoo not simply drawn on, a photo of the “word (the person who is the word, not the word itself, without the word being visible unless it was unavoidable), and the date on which the person became the “word”.

the evidence

the evidence

I would later (more than a year later, receive the only traditionally printed version of the story, a privately printed presentation copy for each participant. This book is only permitted to be read by the participants and the author and the only way anyone not involved in the project would be able to read the book would be if all the participants gathered and were grouped together and read in sequence. With almost 3000 words spread around the globe, no easy task….

Hang Out Your Shingles…

So, it turns out that I do not have pink-eye… Nor am I having a reaction to my blood pressure medication.

I have Shingles. I never knew you could have it in your face, but you can and I got it. I got it baaaaad.


I spent the morning and most of the afternoon at the hospital. I woke up this morning with my right eye very swollen and with what looked like blisters on my head and face. So, I headed down to the Queensway Carleton Hospital (my favourite hospital since they closed the Riverside Hospital). The triage nurse immediately said “It looks like you have shingles”, put on a mask, spit-guard, gloves and gown, processed me and sent me into the isolation waiting area. Nothing to read in there except today’s 24 newspaper and some copies of Watchtower in Arabic. Since I wasn’t allowed to touch anything I stole one of the Watchtowers to fan my face.

When I finally was called into the Cubicles and was seen by the doctor, he took one look at me and said “You have Shingles”. He ran some blood tests to make sure I don’t have any underlying problem (I don’t),  and scheduled me for a visit to the General Hospital Eye Clinic tomorrow to ensure that the virus hasn’t gotten into my eyeball which could cause complications with my vision. That would be treatable but the faster they know and can treat it,the less likely any damage would be done.

I have a cortisone medication to take daily for 14 days, I think it is (10 tablets once a day for a couple of days, 8 for a couple of days… and so on until I am finished the prescription. I also have Prednesone for the inflammation and a painkiller for the shooting pains and the burning pain.

My sinuses, glands and ears are all hurting, now, and, as you can see from the photos, I look pretty swollen and inflamed.

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a band of blisters that wraps from the middle of your back around one side of your chest to your breastbone.

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.

While it isn’t a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.


The signs and symptoms of shingles usually affect only a small section of one side of your body. These signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
  • A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • Itching

Some people also experience:

  • Fever and chills
  • General achiness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. For some, it can be intense. Depending upon the location of the pain, it can sometimes be mistaken for a symptom of problems affecting the heart, lungs or kidneys. Some people experience shingles pain without ever developing the rash.

Most commonly, the shingles rash develops as a band of blisters that wraps around one side of your chest from your spine to your breastbone. Sometimes the shingles rash occurs around one eye or on one side of the neck or face.

Are you contagious?
A person with shingles can pass the varicella-zoster virus to anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox. This usually occurs through direct contact with the open sores of the shingles rash. Once infected, the person will develop chickenpox, however, not shingles.

Chickenpox can be dangerous for some groups of people. Until your shingles blisters scab over, you are contagious and should avoid physical contact with:

  • Anyone who has a weak immune system
  • Newborns
  • Pregnant women

Mayo Clinic


Please see the postings on my further Shingles adventures.

October 13, 2009

February 3, 2010

February 9, 2010

February 25, 2010

June 9, 2010

June 22, 2010




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