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Drawing on One’s Strengths by Claudia Cresswell

15 April 2019

Reuben is a young man and musician. A few years ago, he started to lose weight despite eating all the time. He was also chronically tired and had no idea of what was happening, “I carried on as blokes do”. Eventually blood tests led to a doctor calling early one evening “Get to the hospital straight away. Your blood sugars are through the roof”. It was while waiting for the taxi that Dr Google suggested Type 1 Diabetes. “I was slightly incredulous because I didn’t really understand. It was also a bit confronting, a bit nervous making”.

Waiting in line at Calvary’s Emergency Department felt strange. He wasn’t bleeding or wounded, but a simple finger prick test initiated the cascade of events that still effects his life today.

Reuben was immediately admitted to hospital. And while many may have become despondent, Reuben became completely engaged in the sounds of the hospital.

I take field recordings usually on holiday or going to somewhere nature wise, and I had my portable recorder in my bag. I had already agreed to do a remix /cover of a friend’s song.

Reuben got to work that night and recorded several long sections of sound over the night in ED. “I was in a bed but felt like I was in the thick of things for recording … the VelcroTM on the blood pressure bandage, the beeping machines, and sounds of doors opening and closing. I used them to start building a music track”.

Reuben continued to record the sounds of the hospital when he was transferred to the ward. He even sneaked off to a quiet stairwell and recorded himself singing. Back on the ward he mixed his voice, hospital sounds and his friend’s original song, and uploaded his creation to the net.

None of my friend’s original [song] is in there.  Everything is gathered, transformed, rewoven and multi-playedI like all the rough edges and the inescapable hospital background sound. It forms a rich texture that’s nothing like being in a studio.

Having Type 1 Diabetes changed life as he knew it, but the disease is merely part of the soundtrack. It’s not the main story. By drawing on his strengths Reuben turned what could have been an overwhelming experience into a creative one.

What are your strengths?

How could you use them to improve a health care experience?

More information on Reuben and his music can be found at reubeningall.com

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