Last year I was diagnosed with mild bronchiectasis. Whilst this was disappointing news it did help me to realise that the symptoms of shortness of breath, tiredness and chest pains did have cause, and weren’t due to the usual exhaustion that can be felt by anyone trying manage my various roles in life after being widowed.
Sitting in the consultants room receiving a diagnosis was very peculiar; whilst I had had several tests at the GP and the Respiratory centre at Southmead hospital, I still didn’t expect a label, a named cause and an actual reason for the symptoms, especially because I run, cycle and have never smoked.
My first reaction was to google ‘bronchiectasis’; I know that we are always told not to do that for health related concerns, but I needed to know just what I was dealing with, how to minimise exacerbations and how common it was. (I used the British Lung Foundation and some other reliable forums as listed below). My second reaction was the realisation that I had found the subject for my next creative project: my shift dress that I was about to start making for Seam’s project ‘Shiftworks‘.
So back to the enjoyable research – here is an image from a great day out with some members from Seam, at Clothworkers (the behind the scenes storage facility used by the V and A in London). During our visit, the staff presented some dresses for us to examine; a close up view of some iconic 60’s shift dresses.
I particularly liked Stephan Willats’ Mondrian inspired PVC dress, Andre Courrage’s dress of cotton and machine embroidered organza and Foale and Tuffin’s ‘Double D’ dress. I now needed to consider how I could use one of these designs to help inspire a dress that would be made with my usual drawn thread technique and how to show a design that related to ‘bronchiectasis’.
British Lung Foundation – easy to understand information about the condition
Life of Breath – exploring breathing and breathlessness at the interface between arts, humanities and medical practice (online)
NICE guidelines on best practice for patients with bronchiectasis (online)
Radiopaedia.org – terminology and CT scans (online)