Musical Cough
by Elanor Brooks

Tags: multimedia - film - bone_deep - COPD - respiratory - oooh_featured -


I wanted my creative piece to be interactive and have an acoustic component in order to accurately and vividly portray the importance of singing to the patient. It consists of a miniature speaker fixed inside a salbutamol inhaler (kindly donated by my mother), connected to an excised headphone jack using wire and solder. When connected to a handheld device, music of the observer‟s choosing can be played from the mouthpiece (my personal favourite is Handel‟s Hallelujah Chorus, as it is relevant and generally rather pleasing). I chose this idea as it represents a union between two important yet conflicting elements of the patient‟s life: singing (and music in general), and COPD, which necessitates the use of the inhaler. In this way, that which symbolises the patient‟s disability becomes the instrument for performance. The title of the piece is derived from another of the patient‟s symptoms – a wheezing cough, which, as I discovered during my research for the Respiratory Case, is characteristic of COPD and can be termed by healthcare professionals as “musical”. This seemed apt given the context of the patient‟s choral background.

Through devising and completing this project, I have developed a more thorough understanding of how illness can have profound effects on patient experience which extend far beyond the physical manifestations and impact social, emotional and mental wellbeing. I hope that my appreciation for these holarchies and remembrance of this patient will come across in future practice as a doctor, so that I am able to treat the whole person and not just their disease.

Elanor Brooks
Year One Effective Consulting 2017-18
Creative Piece Commended