MS Gets Arty

MS Art Blog!

I said in previous medical blog that the next one will be completely different, so I am confident it is. Hope so anyway!

Here’s the thing. I used to be an engineer – hate to use the past tense – but hey, life’s route doesn’t always go to plan. I know why and how mine has changed (MS, if you didn’t/don’t know), but that is that. Life without challenge is boring, right? Sometimes!

Anyway! What am I on about? I have quoted engineering and with that there are certain design fundamentals to learn and to know about without doubt. There are no required ART elements, or there wasn’t in my 4 years at Uni! Fantastic if you are a naturally gifted with artistic skills within you; I am not.

I  have recently started to attend an ART class at Benmar House, Multiple Sclerosis Research and Relief! Foreign language (art) to me? A Bit! However! Can but try.

So, I began on Thursday 02/02/17. First ever Art Group! I found it very different, but actually really enjoyed it (hands-up having gone with a lot of cynicism of expectations). Aye, a first one, but the I do like abstract art. When I arrived, and spoke with Irene who has an honours degree from Glasgow School of Art and a fantastic blog, she seemed quite excited by my abstract idea!

Rolina van Vliet's Abstracts 50 Inspirational ProjectsAfter being presented with a sketchbook to jot down ideas, I have also been loaned a brilliant abstract book by Rolina van Vliet and it is definitely me! I was inspired to go back after my first ever effort:!


Irene had said how by painting, your (random) thoughts will calm somewhat. That they did very noticeably. Not used to that at all! Simple yet amazing?! Quiet brain – zoned into this painting thing!

A week later - 09/02/17 – I went back for more. Details aside I made another canny ‘piece’! (in my mind anyway) AND ENJOYED AGAIN! Yes, only 2 sessions then, but I am happy for a new hobby – and a blogging topic too that I intend to improve as I learn processes and jargon* etcetera. Ahem.

*I shouldn’t as I do unintentionally waffle including unneeded jargon!

I also tried another method – palette knives and ended with what’s been kindly labelled “yellow splodge”! Fair enough, I see a ghostly doggy thing!

16/02/17 and week 3! I took some of my daft idea scribbles with me and tried to get them on paper. A starting point. IF it ‘fails’, learn from the ‘failure’ to improve. Well, to try to anyway.

Before I was let loose with the paint, I approached my sketchbook with a range of "Inktense pencils", coloured pencils and pastels. Engineering it is not! Result?

Thankfully it wasn’t a complete failure! Different as usual. Then the paint. There is a theme/message to it. Theme’ish. Can you see it? Easy if you (me!) know of it! Answers on a postcard, or comment!

I intend to try and keep this up to see some progression somewhere. Massive respect and thanks to Irene and Benmar House @MSRRTCharity!

A therapy in its own right. Try it.

What is an Inktense pencil?

Derwent Inktense Pencils are as versatile as watercolor pencils, but with a firmer texture that allows them to perform with the brilliant intensity of traditional pen-and-ink. These pencils are available in strong, vibrant colors which work beautifully on their own or can be mixed together to create rich, subtle tones.

MS Expert Patient

MS Expert Patient

Cranial Nerve Examination

I have recently met some 3rd year medical students at my GPs’ surgery on their request; an activity I usually do if I can when asked to do it, being someone living with MS – not solely stuck in MY head!

A cartoon showing a 3rd year medial student expectations

What this does is not only the giving me the chance to give something back to the medical body, that they (students) learn from, but the chance for me to share some of my story.

I have assisted with a/the Cranial Nerve Examination several times now being the patient, as my eyes are affected by my condition. These (examinations) have taken part in a learning centre area of the RVI* and separately my GPs’ surgery.

*This has been different across the years! I go along with about 15 other ‘patients’ across 2 wards, each in our own respective ward area, to sit or lie and await a small team (5-6) of students with a qualified doctor per team. These teams each have their task/s to perform depending on what these are. Do I enjoy it? Yes, I do now being somewhat of an expert patient (well, it was said to me!) I can  help them (a bit) without interfering with the lead doctor of course! Quite a long afternoon, 15 teams of 6, with 15 minutes each. Tiring!

So, this time (February 2017) in my GP Surgery there were just 3 students. It never ceases to astound me how much they know of their field. But I suppose when I was in a similar position (3rd year) at Glasgow University I knew a lot of my then stuff (Aeronautical Engineering); a different kind of gibberish (numbers, Greek characters, diagrams, more numbers etc!) but my gibberish. Trying to put that – the Cranial Nerve Examination – into context even now, in what they know about even ONE element of their study being an element of multiple sclerosis is I suppose, harder (contextualization) for me having MS.

The specific focus (ha) was on my eyes, e.g. Visual Acuity, Visual Fields, Visual Extinction. Me being the patient and they performing the above mentioned Cranial Nerve Examination with more concentration on my eyes. They only did an hour’s examination and test practice. Students after all! I’m sure they are getting younger. Ahem. Good people though.

Last year’s 5 took longer to grill me but they did a bigger investigation into and around other nerve responses etc. e.g. leg reactions, spasticity tests, responses and more! Some from the suggested list below – I can’t remember exactly which ones!

3.    Vision (CN II)

What is next, when and for whom? I know not but I will willingly take part again IF I can. Not that it would interfere with work that much!

That ^ is a relatively short blog in a specific field. A bit late since last one I know, and completely different, as will be the next one lined up! Until then, be well!