Monday, 13 July 2009

gummy legs and strokes

As part of the Patience project on Wednesday I worked at Cherry Tree Ward 5 (Rehabilitation ward) in the morning and E1 Stroke Ward at Stepping Hill in the afternoon. Another fantastic day, made the more poignant by the fact that it was my last day running art workshops (at least for a while) due to imminent maternity leave. In the morning, I spoke to the usual wide range of people- suffering from bowel trouble, an amputated leg, back problems, cancer...

We spoke about their condition, their response to being in hospital, their ways of coping. Again this week, I was amazed at how matter-of-factly people could speak of such sadness. For instance, the woman who had had her leg amputated: "Coping. You have to, no choice in the matter. You're here until fit enough to get home, so if you want to go home, put your mind to getting fit quick."
"So had to have the leg off (she smiles) I could sit here and cry for eternity, but it wouldn’t put my leg back. Was a bit fed up at the beginning."

For the first time in ages, we did some drawing. Mary found it hard to tackle problems due to her low confidence - referring right back to childhood, not being able to draw - however she produced a really delightful drawing, which I feel she was quite proud of.

In the afternoon I worked with Stroke patients. I was able to give back typed versions of the pieces they wrote last week (this always seems to please people, to see their work looking formal, 'professionally' presented).

I was able to continue to develop conversations and building relationships with participants and to speak to new people. One gentleman was full of frustration and anger, he seemed so relieved to have someone to talk to: "Been sat on these statements for weeks to try and find the right minded person to speak to. 56 and I was a young 56, but its draining away from me... For the lonely it can be a nightmare in hospital, us and them. Worst thing is not knowing where the nightmare is... my nightmare - the staff changes - the shift changes, not everyone so understanding."

Artwork was in the form of plasters, stuck onto a part of the body that was participants wanted to fix, with letraset writing about their condition.

I'm going to really miss doing the workshops- its really humbling, exhilarating, tiring, inspiring and most of all an honor to share time with people and find out a little of their stories...

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