"Pain is a shared by all humanity, but everyone experiences pain very differently. For some, their daily lives involve the management of chronic pain. For others, their pain is emotional: anxiety, depression, addiction. Pain is subjective, so we've invited professional artists to create works about the subject of pain, as they've experienced. This will be a very personal and enlightening show, featuring the works of over 30 local and international artists.
I came up with the following humorous poster for the show, titled "The Illustrated Guide to Nerve Pain"
For those who don't know what Shingles is, Shingles is when you catch Chicken Pox as a kid, and even though you think you've gotten over it, the virus doesn't go away - it just finds a place to hide inside one of your nerves. Years later, just when you think you are a well-adjusted adult coping with the stresses of a modern existence, the virus decides to re-activate itself, giving you a localized chicken-pox-like rash. But in the process of giving you the rash, the virus breaks out of it's resident nerve, damaging the nerve and causing intense nerve pain. And since this resulting pain is directly within the nerve itself, there is very little that can be done to diminish it while it is happening (very little, except get a shot of morphine or two, which they will maybe give you in ER, but that's another story...). All you can do is hope that the damaged nerves heal back to normal, but that takes time...
Thankfully my damaged nerve (the ophthalmic branch of the Trigeminal nerve on my forehead) healed normally over the course of the next few months, but not before it kept randomly firing with all kinds of wild, weird, intense sensations of pain, some of which would have me literally rolling on the floor. On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain was often a 10. Due to related light-sensitivity in my eye, I spent much of this recovery time sitting in a closed dark room with only my sketchbook to keep me company. Every time I would have a new sensation of pain or experience, I would doodle it into my sketchbook, thinking that maybe someday, in the spirit of an engrossing memoir, I would be able to look back fondly at the experience and turn it into an autobiographical comic (working title: 'The Shingle Diaries'!).
This then here is the sketchbook page where I kept a log of all the different types of intense nerve pain I experienced: