Friday, 3 July 2009

Lead soldiers & Stroke

As part of our new project Patience, on Wednesday morning I worked with older people at the Rehabilitation ward, Cherry Tree Hospital Stockport. Seven participants gave varying responses to a collection of toy lead soldiers I brought along to the session. My idea was to develop the theme of the 'brave soldier'.. and 'soldiering on'. Could these ideas relate to how we view our health? Participants chose an photographic image of toy soldiers, we selected a line from their text, which they in turn wrote on the photo, from which I made a badge for them. To my delight everyone seemed proud of their creations, and after photos I left them wearing their text/art.

In the afternoon, I met up with Jean Lally who was kindly offering her services as a volunteer. We had our first session at the Stroke Ward at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport. Its always going into the unknown when you start at a new venue: the participants, the staff, the environment all are to be discovered.

We worked with three women, each one shared with amazing candor their experiences - one had been in hospital for 28 weeks and was fighting depression, God and her disability. She was full of anger: 'If I don’t hurry up I’ll be dead.'

Another women was the main carer for her Aunt, the determination to get home - so that she could resume her caring responsibility - was humbling: "To get well as soon as possible and get back to my Aunt that I care for and love - there's only the two of us- just want a normal quiet life, anything would do."

And then there was the woman who spoke in such a matter of fact way about her devastating conditions: "I have not only one problem, not only a stroke but Inclusion Bodies Myisitis- a form of MS or motor neuron a muscle wasting disease. There's no way to stop it, no way to help it, not for me anyway."

All three women shared such strength and determination it was inspiring, an honor and a privilege to talk with them.

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