By Adam Barrett
I know you’re an artist/administrator and therefore you don’t really get sick. You don’t have time to get sick, even if you weren’t totally immune to disease and injury. So this is one of those theoretical, just in case, kind of ideas. You’re an artist. You’re invincible. You will definitely not be coming down with any kind of repetitive stress injuries. Promise.
And then I fractured my spine. In a non-union dance-theatre workshop, no less. Soooooo, no benefits there. After rushing to the emergency room, getting doped up on ill-begotten pain killers (with no help from the Mayor), and spending weeks trying to track down a doctor (I went to five, none of them taking new patients) I finally sobered up enough to remember this place.
The Artists’ Health Centre is amazing. My first meeting with the Nurse Practitioner, Ruth Bittorf, she spent an hour with me, not the cursory 10 minutes I’d been getting with every other practitioner. She told me flat out that I was looking at months and months and months of recovery, even after I could walk again (at least 8 weeks just for that). She agreed with me that spending that entire time on heavy narcotics was bad, and so she talked to me about managing pain with meditation, reducing inflammation with diet, and the occasional very important heavy duty pain killer (legal this time) to remind your body what it’s like to not hurt.
The clinic has in house physiotherapy, shiatsu, naturopathic medicine, RMT, massage, psychotherapy, chiropractic, acupuncture AND a team of, you know, actual medical doctors. Oh, and a subsidy program.
Hurting myself meant taking almost an entire year off from, not just performing, but seeing shows, and really anything that required the brain power to, say, spell properly. Obviously, prevention is the best medicine, but if you hurt yourself make sure you have a plan, and The Artists’ Health Centre can help with that, plus they have a team that can help execute it. With their help and a lot of work I was back on the boards in just under a year.