Last week I had a big day out. I went to London on the (very) early train to attend the Hippocrates Medicine and Poetry Symposium. This is an annual event which includes a programme of speakers and ends with the announcement of winners of the prestigious Hippocrates Poetry Prizes. Two of the speakers really captured my attention and my imagination.
A young medical student talked about his project looking into the representation of psychiatrists in film (Dr.Dippy, Dr. Evil, Dr Wonderful) and presented his findings in series of four beautiful poems hand written on the stereotypical spider inkblot pictures used in psychiatric consultation.
A cardiologist from USA explained and read some of his ‘echo’ poems inspired by the magic of sound pictures taken of damaged hearts through echo-cardiograms; poems also inspired by the patients he worked with and the decisions they faced together.
My colleague Cathy Bailey and I also gave a brief presentation about a small project that I facilitated at Northumbria University using creative writing in reflective practice with student nurses working with people with dementia.
It is not surprising that my highlight of the day was Kate Compston who had worked as a counsellor in Cornwall, winning the first prize in the NHS category with a poem Lovely Young Consultant Charms My Husband. She captured the moment when the diagnosis of DLB (Dementia with Lewy bodies) was revealed with humanity and medical knowledge to explain her husband’s memory loss, hallucinations and cognitive impairment; his elated response to the young woman consultant and Kate’s sense of impending tragedy.