I have been doing a challenge to produce a picture based on my recollection of December. It’s timely of course being close to Christmas and that has influenced the picture produced here. The index X-ray came from a man, originally African, with pneumocystis pneumonia, almost certainly based on immune deficiency – HIV – a disease that in retrospect we were seeing during medical training in Central Africa during the late 1960 and 1970s although it had not been recognised as a different disease, or even named, at that time.
The X-ray was paired with a photo of a wild flower that grew in the bush around our area – Gloriosa superba – what we had known as the Flame Lily. During the hot wet month of December when the long-grass grew higher than our heads, and the bush was hot, damp, and full of colour; huge edible mushrooms and insects of every hue. As children we would make forays into the wild areas collecting flame lilies to decorate our home before Christmas, or take bunches to the old people.
This image shows flames bursting from a chest X-ray, paradoxically signifying the beauty of Africa, but also the destructive nature of the epidemic that swept the continent and still spreads today.