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Clinical Medicine 2010, Vol 10, No 1: 91–2 literature and medicine Epilepsy – the mission, he was invited as a guest to the battalion’s 1937 St David’s Day dinner at then followed investigations at a military hospital in Oxford, under the supervi- making of a the Anglesey Arms, Menai Bridge: sion of Dr (later Sir) Hugh Cairns. Kyffin I went to bed at about 12.30 happy and describes these as follows: painter: Sir (John) sober. I don’t know when I woke, but I [M]y first test was the inevitable lumbar punc- remember lying beside the open window. It ture. This was followed a few days later by the Kyffin Williams was unbearably cold and I was covered in electro-encephalogram, the first machine of its snow. There was a taste of blood in my kind to be assembled in this country. I sat in a mouth and my tongue was terribly wire-netting rabbit hutch and a strange per- This column explores the links painful…. I must have lost consciousness, manent-wave machine hung above my head and synergies between medicine for the next thing I remember was waking as terminals were attached to my ether-soaked and literature. What roles can up in bed…. My tongue was agony, but I got hair. At the other end of the room a girl pressed literature play in reflecting and up, dressed and unsteadily made my way a switch, and a large metal hand started to influencing good practice, and downstairs to breakfast. I don’t think I ever draw a crazy graph on some paper pinned to what sorts of images of doctoring got there, because once again I found myself the wall. are to be found in drama, poetry, in bed, my tongue was worse and everything fiction, biography, electronic fora The next day in came my doctor. ‘What are was unbelievably vague. and film? The editors would be you going to do when you leave the army? pleased to receive short papers, A few weeks later he was taken to see …as in fact you are abnormal,’ he ranging from 500–1,000 words, Dr Henry Cohen in Liverpool, whom announced. ‘I think it would be a good idea on relevant topics. Those Kyffin described as: if you took up art’. interested in contributing should a dapper and confident neurologist…. He email firstname.lastname@example.org or told me that I had had an attack of grand Acting on this suggestion, Kyffin email@example.com mal epilepsy, that the pupil of my left eye enrolled in the Slade School of Fine Art, was fixed and I had no reaction to light, and in October 1941, which by then had that I had no reflexes in my knees. He pre- evacuated to Oxford to amalgamate with If Kyffin Williams had not developed scribed luminal and a foul tasting mixture the Ruskin School of Art for the duration epilepsy he might never have become a of belladonna and Irish moss. of the war. painter. Kyffin (pronounced Kuffin) In his first year at the Slade, Kyffin A few days after he returned home, in Williams was born in Anglesey in 1918, described his artistic prowess: ‘As the April 1937, he received his commission the second son of Henry Inglis Wynne worst student there, I was ashamed in the 6th Battalion Royal Welch Williams, a banker, and Essylit Mary when I compared my insensitive life Fusiliers. Williams, both children of Church of drawings with those of seventeen year Six months after the first attack of England rectors on the island. Kyffin’s old girls’. During the war years there
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