A comic about having Parkinson’s | Catalonia

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“Mireu-me bé, mireu-me bé: soc l’altre” wrote Miquel Martí i Pol when he already had glasses in his blood. And it is a verse that Ramon Ricart (Vic, 1967) expressly cites in his comic tremblea book about parkinson’s who was diagnosed in 2014, when he was 47 years old. “It was,” she writes, “as if a stranger had entered me. It was not me! I wanted to hide the other, which was myself”.

Ricart admits that at first it is difficult to accept the disease, for now, incurable and that you do not know where a progression that is different in each patient will take you. From the one who remains stagnant without any worsening to the one who slides quickly towards a hard bodily awkwardness. “You have the feeling of disturbing healthy people, you are ashamed of your gestures and you feel guilty for creating discomfort. For example, when you paralyze the queue at the supermarket checkout because you can’t get your card out.” In these words resonate those of Susan Sontag who, regarding cancer and AIDS, described how some corrosive diseases are not only suffering but also burden the patient with false feelings of guilt. Write tremble (Bang Ediciones) “has been a therapy, a path towards accepting the disease”. This desire to hide is clearly seen in some of the self-portraits in the book, in which the protagonist is shown… from behind.

The experience of the book has a precedent, My degeneration, by Canadian Peter Dunlap-Shol. “Now he lives in Alaska and we have agreed to meet next year when the World Parkinson’s Congress is held in Barcelona. I think her book is more aggressive and tends more towards caricature”. when i was finishing tremble, it was Dunlap who explained to him that the difference between an edited book and an unpublished one is insistence. Ricart sent it to three publishers. “One told me it was boring and the drawing was normal. In another, there was no unanimous opinion on the editorial board…”. At Bang, the response was quick and satisfying. It has been published in Spanish and French. “Anyway, while I was drawing it, the best advice on narrative pace, tone, etc. came from my partner and the friends I was showing it to.” And that Ricart is not a newcomer to the trade. A teacher at various design schools, he was director of the Escola d’Art de Vic, created the character of Catifa in the magazine Tretzeventshas illustrated covers, catalogues, designed corporate identity…

The bibliography of graphic novels or comics about diseases is surprisingly large. In graphic medicine, for example, you can find very well ordered information about this specific offer. The website itself stems from a concept launched by the British doctor and comic book author Ian Williams, and the Spanish team is supported by the work of a group of healthcare professionals who are fond of doodles. For comics whose main theme is a disease narrated by one of its protagonists, they use the term Graphic Pathography. The topic is vast. Ricart Quote mental hospital (The Dome) by Montse Batalla and Xevidom. “It’s about a psychotic episode and the consequences of an aggressive misdiagnosis.” Books on depression, eating disorders, pancreatitis, leukemia… but always going beyond the mere description of the pathology. Like Ricart does.

tremble has more than one record. It cannot be said that it is compassionate -it ends with a “Take advantage now that you can”-, but it does not invite surrender either. There is irony, as when he uses Dr. James Parkinson’s paradoxical description of the disease – “shaking paralysis” – to turn it into a comic book title: “The Incredible Case of the Paralyzing Tremor”. There are notices “about the danger of depression.” There are tributes to the people who have helped him and continue to do so. “I prepare a sheet where I will gather the portraits of all those who have helped me. It will be a way of saying thank you.”

There are allusions to other much worse situations. At a dinner with friends, one of them repeatedly goes to the bathroom, he has to return the food because he suffers from a rare disease, achalasia. “The pit of the stomach closes and they can’t swallow food. I included this scene because I felt like I was looking at myself too much in the comic and needed to tell other stories. In the account of that meeting he did not want to be the sick star of the dinner. It would be someone else.”

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There is some surprising reaction, like when Ricart is waiting for the final diagnosis, tumor or Parkinson’s, and his character, walking alone on page 11, thinks: “I hope it’s a tumor.” “That’s what went through my head. The tumor, perhaps, would be cured. Parkinson’s is forever. It is certainly not intended as an argument. Nothing is black or white. Then, unfortunately, Miguel Gallardo’s death would come from a brain tumor, about which he also made a book.

And there is a very harsh story about a neurologist in a large hospital. “It was a case of abuse. He followed a strict protocol and made a stereotyped approach when each Parkinson’s patient is different. He came to deny me that the lateral deviation that I suffered from the head and made it difficult for me, for example, to be able to walk straight, was Parkinson’s. I had an enormous feeling of helplessness until I was able to change the public hospital and the medical team”.

The narrator of tremble is Ricart, a voice. Now, a group of young people with Parkinson’s – “there is a girl who was diagnosed at 21 years old!” – hold a series of meetings to share their experiences. “Perhaps, from these meetings, another book will come out, an exhibition… It is convenient to know what other patients think.” It is about multiplying the voices about a disease that is not unknown. Rather… poorly known. tremble help remedy this ignorance.

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