Holding My Hand
by Catherine Ollerhead

This piece depicts the last time I saw my Grandad, before he passed away several years ago. The hands are moulded out of clay, and clay roses embellish the frame, representing one of my Grandad’s favourite pass-times of pruning his roses. One of the last things he said to me was that he wanted me to hold his hand. I did this for several hours and took this photograph to remember that time we shared together. He passed away the next day peacefully. Since this time, I have found myself holding the hand of several patients at different points of their lives: a woman facing complications in her labour, a man after he was told he had a malignant, terminal condition, a woman at the end of her life with no one else to be with her, the list goes on.

Medicine can do incredible things but, in my experience, it is most effective when provided alongside genuine human care and holding someone’s hand can be a powerful way of showing your solidarity with them. Finding the perfect balance between medicine and care is what I aspire to achieve in my career.

Catherine Ollerhead

Winner of the Medicine Humanities and Creative Arts prize, March 2020.
Bristol School of Medicine, Year 4