Breakfast, Lunch, DinnerJen Watson

The artwork I chose is by a Canadian artist Jen Watson. The painting is titled “Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner”. This piece was created by the artist to depict her own experience with chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, and depression. In the artwork, the artist aptly puts together her three meals of the day, and these meals remain the same every day of her life. The artist has consistent pain that she has been enduring and also displays hatred for her body as it has given her immense pain. This is a classic depiction of a chronic syndrome that stays uncured despite taking medication.

When I looked at the painting, I was instantly drawn to it. It is a picture of a mundane activity but presented in a very impactful way.  If I look around so many people can relate to it. Relying on so much medication to find relief is a struggle and a challenge. It requires courage and as each new pill brings in new hope, it may become a part of the ordinary. The pills linger and so does the pain. On one hand modern medicine is supposed to change one’s life for the better but here it also made me realize how modern medicine still fails to solve many chronic conditions.

For me this artwork speaks about a personal journey and a societal issue both. It reminded me of the health paradox that exists in this modern age where disease is on the rise as we advance technologically. This also made me think of adding more medicine to counter the side effects of medicine actually treating the disease. It is a complicated state of dependence without relief. It is a downward spiral and the psychological trauma that comes with this is an invisible condition that others cannot see. The artist has been brave to express through her artwork.



Medicine was made to provide relief. How do you think modern medicine has served this artist with a dozen pills on her plate every day three times a day?


  1. I love your comments about the introduction of pills as hope and then how they become ordinary. Modern medicine offers so much hope and recognizes so many ills, but does not necessarily offer a cure. There is a constant sense of hope in the form of drugs, treatments, and therapies but with a huge list of side effects and potential risks. What were once considered miracles are now just accepted parts of life. You are expected to figure out what cocktail will keep you going in a way that is socially acceptable.

  2. I think this is a perfect example of medicine patching up an issue instead of fixing it. The medicine might be providing pain relief, but it is not treating the exact cause of the issue. It is making life bearable, but not returning it to normal. As someone who is not a doctor, I realize that what I am saying is easier said than done. However, that is not an excuse to not work towards the better and improve the healthcare system so that it is preventing such cases instead of patching them.
    As a future PT, I hope to be a part of transforming this profession into preventable medicine.

  3. Hina, you bring up some excellent points in your discussion surrounding this piece. With all the benefits of modern medicine comes side effects, which may necessitate additional medications, starting the cycle of reliance on a large number of pills just to go about the day. Some people do need the number of medications they are on, and I’m sure the artist in some ways is benefiting from her medications, even if only by a small amount. It can be incredibly frustrating to have to take this magnitude of medication and experience minimal relief. At the same time, perhaps her healthcare providers could find alternative methods to treat her condition that don’t require this person to consume the amount of medication that is represented in this artwork. It doesn’t seem that modern medicine is serving this person very effectively.

  4. WOW, this picture, and its title is so powerful. I agree with everything you talked about in your post, especially the last paragraph about it being both about a personal journey and societal issue. Modern medicine tries so hard to help people that perhaps HCP can forget the extra burden that their help can add, especially the mental burdens of having hopes repeatedly raised just to be let down. We as PTs do not prescribe medications but we can advocate for our patients and perhaps we can be that person that says “hey this medication doesn’t seem to be necessary, or it is doing more harm than good”. I don’t want to say that modern medicine is failing patients for giving them medications, they have definitely saved lives or improved the QoL of patients, I think we just aren’t using our resources properly and perhaps drug companies are more concerned about their interests than the interests of the patients on the drugs.

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