On our recent visit to Copenhagen for the European Haematology Association conference, I visited the Copenhagen medical museum. This was an amazing place, but what impacted me most of all was the dress that was displayed in the foyer.
The dress is composed of 27,774 tablets and capsules, representing the pills a woman with metabolic syndrome might take over 10 years. The designers had the medical records of two real patients and amalgamated them to create ‘Femme Vitale’. She has had diabetes for 10 years and a heart attack 4 years ago. Since developing these chronic diseases she has also had an episode of depression and developed arthritis in her knees.
Susie Freeman and Liz Lee from Pharmacopoeia art created the dress in 2012.
They say of their work, “The artwork of Pharmacopoeia engages viewers in the debate around our relationship with medical treatments, encouraging us to examine our own medical and pharmacological history. It explores the tension between the dependence of our society on pharmaceuticals and the ambivalence we often feel towards them.”
I liked what Copenhagen medical professor Jakob Kragstrup said about the meaning of the dress, when writing of ‘The Good Life with Chronic Disease’.
“Most people live a good life with chronic disease; but when it is sewn into the garment of a dress, it becomes visible that there may be problems: lifestyle must be changed, you have to remember to take your pills, you must attend control, etc.
Diseases take time, they can provide limitations and they can shorten life. For the individual patient, it is a question of balance between self-realization and perfect disease control.”
This week we’ve been considering the multiple medications that people with AF often take. Many people who have experienced blood clots also live with a chronic condition needing various pills.
So, I think the dress and the professor’s quote have a lot of relevance to many of our readers. Have you taken enough pills to make such a dress?