thinking about my alveoli

Claire Bushby, Untitled, 2017, water-colour and ink.
Claire Bushby, Untitled, 2017, water-colour, ink and pencil.

This year I have been plagued by sickness, starting with pneumonia in February which left me with a couple of months of costochondritis, repeated chest infections throughout the year and asthma flare ups. I am currently recovering from another bout of bronchitis right now and this has all got me thinking about my alveoli doing their very best under difficult circumstances.

I was a sickly child with chronic asthma, in and out of hospital throughout my childhood. I was one of those toddlers that had to be put into an oxygen tent, something that was probably far more traumatic for my parents than for me.

So many of my childhood memories are at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth, and actually my memories are quite fond because I liked the fact that I got to meet other sick kids like me there. As opposed to most kids in my primary school who had no trouble running the perimeter of an oval while I puffed and straggled behind them in Phis Ed class.

In my early twenties I had a major kidney illness that was mis-diagnosed until I landed in the emergency room being told a couple more hours off and I might not have survived.

I often think about how if it weren’t for modern medicine I just wouldn’t be here today.

Recently while sick with bronchitis my friend sent me a link to an online course, Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare. She suggested I might enjoy it, and she had just done the course while home sick with a lurgy herself.

The course “explores the intersection of the arts, humanities and healthcare”. It is a fascinating course and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the links between Art and Medicine, and how the medical field can embrace more humane approaches to patient care.

Some of the course readings are from this e-booklet, Where does it Hurt? produced by the Wellcome Collection. This is also an excellent read.

I’ve been painting these little homages to my inner workings in water-colour and ink. Contemplating how our bodies are an incredible thing, often mysteriously working away till something just can’t keep up the good work anymore, then we become aware of that inner world in ways we just aren’t when healthy.

Claire Bushby, Untitled, 2017, Water-colour, ink and pencil.