Sheila David will never forget the bright smile on her child's face the first time the baby saw the colorful mural of carousels and horses that covers an entire wall at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.
"So many times, art doesn't mean a thing to kids, but this mural really made an impression" on Makenna, her 20-month-old daughter, David says. "She could touch the mural. The top of the carousel comes out, and the nose of one of the horses sticks out right at her height when we held her in our arms. For us, that mural reflected life."
David, whose daughter died about a month after visiting a specialist at the Houston hospital, is now nearing success in a long crusade to create the same kind of life-affirming mural on a wall at the University of Kentucky Children's Hospital in Lexington, where Makenna also received treatment for her illness.
Earlier this month, David and her husband, Greg, hosted a fund-raising event that attracted more than 500 guests and raised about $120,000. At this point, David is sure only that the planned mural will be designed to help sick kids smile at a difficult time.
"Sitting in the hospital, you don't want to see empty walls," says David, a Lexington resident. "You want to see the things that make you happy-soccer fields, baseball fields, horses. This will be a mural for kids all over Kentucky. I hope it'll be sort of like: `What is home to you? What is happiness to you?' "
David and her daughter first glimpsed the mural at Texas Children's during a visit in November 1998 to determine why the baby was having difficulty breathing. Later, after being treated in Lexington, Makenna was diagnosed with pulmonary veno-occlusive disease, which obstructs the pulmonary veins.
In the days before Makenna died on Dec. 4, 1998, the Davids-who have two other children-vowed to create a mural similar to the one at Texas Children's, which features a bright, colorful, three-dimensional tile wall made up of handcrafted pottery tiles. Three years later, the dream is close to reality.
"We loved that mural for what it did for Makenna," David says. "My husband and I said it'd be pretty nice if we could do this for her, if we could create this mural here for other children. It'll be three years in December since she died. I've been thinking about this since then."
We understand completely. Despite best efforts to get back to normal business in Washington last week, emotions spilled out. During a speech to 150 health leaders on Sept. 19, Thomas Scully suddenly choked up when he tried to talk about the "large number" of children in New York City day-care facilities whose parents never came to pick them up after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Sept. 11. Scully, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, paused midsentence for about 10 seconds to regain his composure before getting back to the topic of the day, CMS reform. "I apologize," he said. "It is tough to get into those subjects that we probably shouldn't have gotten into this morning."
Art born of pain. Seldom is pain both the stimulus for and the unifying factor in an entire exhibition of art. But pain is behind "eMotion Pictures: An Exhibition of Orthopaedics in Art," scheduled to run from Sept. 22 to Nov. 25 at the Chicago Cultural Center. The 82 artists include orthopedic physicians and patients from nine countries and 24 states, says William Tipton, an orthopedic surgeon and the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Rosemont, Ill., which organized the art show.
Tipton says the works represent the fears, hopes, frustrations and pain of doctors and patients: what they can achieve and what they can't. The professionally juried show, previously shown in San Francisco and Washington, was organized by the 25,500-member academy. Tipton says the exhibit is an attempt to raise awareness of muscular-skeletal diseases and conditions to increase funding for research for new treatments.
"The idea behind it was to encourage patients and physicians whose lives have been affected by an orthopedic condition to express their thoughts and feelings about that through their art," he says.
If only the patients would take the medicine. The Rockville, Md.-based Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, an HHS agency, recently released a report with a conclusion the Marx Brothers might have scripted. Just as those boys recommended that one combat insomnia by getting a good night's sleep, the report advises sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome to end their symptoms by getting more exercise.
Defining and Managing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome stemmed from work by AHRQ-funded researchers at the San Antonio Evidence-based Practice Center at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center and the Veterans Evidence-based Research, Dissemination and Implementation Center, a Veterans Affairs research facility.