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The Digital Decameron

The Digital Decameron

I hope you are well and staying safe. I want to let you know about a project we have launched in collaboration with the organisers of the 9th International Digital Storytelling Conference, of which Patient Voices is one. The conference was originally scheduled to begin at the end of March 2020 in Loughborough, UK. As a creative response to the postponement of the DST2020 Conference, we are initiating a project we call the Digital Decameron. As a reference to Boccaccio’s original, the project will run over a period of ten weeks, with ten stories featured on the website each day. We will begin on the original planned start of DST2020.

At the Patient Voices Programme we’ve helped many people create stories of strength and resolve over the 17 years we have been facilitating reflective digital storytelling – and we’ve even made some of our own. So we agreed to curate ten stories for one week of the Decameron. These are personal works and personal choices. They touch on some of the most powerful experiences of our lives – mental and physical health, chronic pain, cancer, dementia, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS, growing up, the loss of a sister or a child. We hope that these, and the others in the Decameron will inspire reflection and strength in the viewer. If one of these, or any of the other Patient Voices stories has inspired you, please let us know.

A patient meditation
A story about the inner strength that can come from meditation and mindfulness.
A frozen shoulder can generate agonising pain at all times of the day or night. When painkillers and steroids fail to provide relief, a particularly long night provides an opportunity to meditate on the nature of suffering.

Hearing voices isn’t all bad
A story about how important it is to find the right tools to give us strength.
Wenda has heard voices for twenty years. Initially, medication worked well and she didn’t hear too many voices for around 17 years. In the last four years the voices have increased dramatically, and she has been using DBT, Tai Chi and Kung Fu to manage them. But those voices can also bring something else – they can be supportive, positive and guiding, and they reaffirm her faith. Her psychologist says that he does not see any signs of EUPD, and that she has an unspecified psychosis.

A story about how growing up changes us.
Jo, the creator, says “My twin granddaughters love this story! That’s a good enough accolade for me. The prompt was ‘the first time…’ and the story popped out almost as you hear it, scribbled on a post card. It’s short but has a sense of a lifetime passing, unfolding. Change happens.”

The Sun also rises
A story about acceptance and the wisdom of age, made by Eva as one of a series of four about her life.
For Eva, the ability to use the right words to express herself has always been important. At 84 years old, the possibility of a diagnosis of Dementia is a dark and frightening one. But the inspiration of a sunrise, and the joy of her garden bring back to her that, as the sun sets in one place, so does it rise somewhere else.

A story that pays tribute to the strength that comes from a loving family – and the benefits of sunshine.
The list of things to which Seema is allergic has grown and grown since she was a tiny baby first diagnosed with a milk allergy. She is no stranger to anaphylactic shock but it has taken its toll on her confidence and self-esteem. A caring doctor, gentle nurses, wet wraps, regular injections, playing the piano and regular visits to warmer climes have helped her to cope with her condition.

The gift of hopelessness
A story about the power of love, compassion and emotional honesty.
When Rita’s lively, energetic son unexpectedly falls asleep on the back of her bicycle, it marks the beginning of a long – and often surreal – journey, as the malignant tumour growing in Brandon’s brain changes everything for the whole family.

A story of how determination and faith can carry us through adversity.
Mental Health difficulties can have devastating effects on individuals and their families. Julie’s story reveals her courageous and loving attempts to overcome tragedy and offers hope through her recognition that life goes on.

A story that gives insight into the strength given by humour.
Paediatrics was the obvious choice for Claudia: she was curious and caring, fun-loving and full of energy – which was just as well as she found herself running faster and faster to keep pace with clinical work, research and leading a team. Only when life deals her some challenges, does she understand the true meaning of resilience, become able to stop and find a slower pace, learn important lessons about caring and being cared for….and discover the value of stickers!

A story about the power of human contact and compassion.
The choices we make in our personal and professional lives may be made despite, or because of, our own experiences, but they are always affected by them. A consultant anaesthetist tells of how the discovery of his own physical and emotional vulnerabilities when he became a patient has informed his care for his patients, his colleagues and himself.

Just for today
A story about the strength we can gain from inner determination and external support.
Despite being in a loving relationship, the stress and anguish of caring for and watching many friends die from AIDS led Dave to befriend the likes of Jack, Johnny and Stella. With faith, determination and support, Dave managed to overcome his addiction and continues to care for the love of his life –and support others who care for those they love


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