This article draws on VM’s doctoral research into the narratives of illness and surgery, and their impact on conceptions of self and life story. This article was the result of conference presentations held during June/July 2005 in Belfast (Arts-Based Educational Research) and Truro (Association of Medical Humanities), UK. The aim of this article is to explore the topic of “dialogue” in the research relationship. This is done primarily through a story, Shoes, butterflies and devils, which is intended to evoke a sense of the relationship between Patricia and VM, through which the connections between the autobiographical roots of her research and Patricia’s experience of kidney failure, dialysis, transplant and heart failure are portrayed. The story is preceded by a brief introduction and account of her methodology, followed by a discussion of some of the conceptual aspects of dialogue that she has tried to highlight in the story.
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VM’s professional background was originally in teaching. She has worked in primary and secondary education in England and taught English in Zambia. She moved into the area of counselling in 1991. She was a bereavement counsellor for Cruse, UK, and has experience as a counsellor in further and higher education. Following neurosurgery in 1994, she wrote a book about the experience, Out of my Head (1997), and an article for the journal, Auto/Biography (2000). She worked in Adult Education as a counsellor trainer from 1996, and is currently undertaking doctoral research at Bristol University on the effects of illness and major surgery on conceptions of self and life story.
Competing interests: None declared.