Chest 94; Past-pointing

2 Nov


I have been looking at a lot of museum chest X-rays recently with colleagues who are going to the big examination next weekend, teaching them to analyse the appearances, in order to help them train for the verbal test. One of the pictures was associated with a CT scan of the head showing a cancer secondary deposit in the cerebellum at the back of the brain. The original Chest X-ray showed an almost imperceptible primary cancer hiding behind some of the blood vessels; it must have been a very active malignant tumour because it had spread so quickly to the brain. In my picture the chest X-ray is present, but well hidden, lurking behind other features of the image. When he presented with increasing clumsiness and staggering gait, clinical examination revealed a sign known as past-pointing which occurs when the cerebellum is diseased. If asked to place the fingertip on a spot – they will often miss the spot and point beyond it. Included in the picture is a group of farmers at a cattle auction, one is pointing upwards with a curved finger and the others are watching him.

In this context past-pointing is a medical sign, however for an alternative philosophical discussion of the spooky meaning of the past-pointing phenomenon see the blog

This week I shall have my first exhibition. Pictures go up on Monday. I have 11 digital prints to show in the main corridor of the Townsville Hospital. After a protracted period of negotiation with the administration and hospital board, and with lots of support from the art committee it has at last been agreed to allow local artists to exhibit within the hospital for up to three months at a time. It will be a good thing to enliven those long bare corridors, and waiting rooms, and give diversion to the patients who wait. At the same time it allows artists to get their work onto public view. It costs the hospital nothing. The down side is that there is no insurance or security. I was asked to hang a single work as a trial so used small magnets to fix the print to the wall. Within 12 hours six out of the eight magnets had been stolen. Thank goodness for Blu-Tak. I have a philosophy that people who have to steal things from hospitals must be extremely needy, and can only be pitied. So, I’ve learned a valuable lesson, and at the same time don’t regret what happened – good experience comes from bad experience.

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