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Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Earth Momma" a jacket for Matthew Browning

This a guest blog by Matthew Browning explaining his jacket story...

Earth Momma a jacket for Matthew Browning

I was asked well over 50 times, maybe over 100, at HIMSS12 about my incredible Regina Holliday Jacket titled “Earth Momma”. As a member of “The Walking Gallery” I dutifully stopped, each and every single time, to share the story behind this powerful and provocative piece of wearable art. I wear it proudly, share it proudly and and eternally grateful for the voice it has brought to two very poignant moments in my life.

My response became consistent over time, building the story that lead to this jacket and finishing with the pictures of the people involved in these artworks. Due to the incredible responses received when relating this story, I have decided to write it down so that even more people may learn from it.

My name is Matthew Browning, I am a nurse, a nurse practitioner to be precise. But more, so much more than that, I am a husband, a father, a human and a caregiver to people, industry and our environment. I do not tolerate inhumanity, abuse, bullying or elitist disregard from our healthcare system, our industry leaders or our government. I champion the underdog, empower the patients and care for all equally from the indigent to the VIP. My story of “Earth Momma” goes as follows:

Hello, and thank you for asking about this jacket. It was painted by Regina Holliday, a well-known patient advocacy artist, who paints vignettes of a patient story on the jackets  and labcoats of doctors, CEOs and patients. I am one of the fortunate few who have two   of Regina’s jackets, and this one depicts the story of my wife, Phoebe, and our second birth story. My first jacket is called “Both of Them” and it depicts the very traumatic story of our first birth experience, the birth of our son AJ, 9 weeks early while we were traveling in Florida. We live in Connecticut. In THAT jacket there is an image showing the moment that my wife is being wheeled into the operating room. See, we presented into an ER in Florida on a Friday night because my wife wasn’t doing well, shortness of breath, swelling and just not doing well. We figured they would adjust a med or two and off we’d go, but no, they determined that she was pre-eclamptic and that they were going to “take the baby” right then and there. I was able to impress upon them that, as I say when telling this story, that she was a very complicated patient and if they cut her, they’d likely kill her, and we needed her history and chart from Yale’s High-risk pregnancy clinic in Connecticut. At 5 am on a Saturday morning we received an inch thick fax which informed, impressed and instilled a modicum of fear in the delivering surgeon. She wisely increased the team size and off to the operating theatre we walked. Now the scene from “Both of Them” shows the gurney being wheeled away with my wife on it and the Doctor turning to me, saying to me, “I have two very complicated patients here and if things go bad in there-Who’s my priority?” I explain while relating this story, that my knees went weak, I lost my breath and responded “Both Of Them”!
(Readers can see that story here  (I’ve learned to add here- and they are now both doing very well :-)

I continue- So we are part of “The Walking Gallery” and there are about 130 of us. So, this past fall, at Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, Regina called for “The Walking Galery” members to please show up and wear our jackets. well, sadly, I had to tell her “No Way!” “this would be totally inappropriate” and explain that this was only due to Phoebe being only a month away from delivering our SECOND child and I just could not, in good conscience, wear THAT jacket- No Way!  So, I explain, that Regina in all her wisdom simply suggested that I come to Health 2.0 and strip so she could paint me another jacket. I thought she was kidding, so when I saw her at Health 2.0 she said “take it off” and I said ‘Huh”? Regina said, I told you bring your jacket and I’d paint it... Whew! I was relieved, yet couldn’t part with one half of my only custom made suit, even for such an awesome artwork. However, I asked around and found out Macy’s had a clearance rack two blocks away, and lo and behold, destiny stepped in and had one that was a perfect fit! I presented that jacket to Regina who asked me to update her on the current story and I explained. “OMG, she (Phoebe) is doing so good! We have this huge organic garden, our own chickens for eggs, we are exercising, have a world-class medical team that collaborates and has all of her data, they check her like every two weeks and she is just beautiful, glowing, radiant- a real Earth Momma”

Matthew with a picture of Beaumont

And so, I say as I spin around so they can REALLY look at the jacket, THIS one is called “Earth Momma”. Many are momentarily speechless, some in tears, some in awe but EVERY single person who has heard that story, and seen this jacket, is never the same. I then implore them to look up “The Walking Gallery” on Google and to keep their eyes open for other jackets from it, because EVERY one of them has a powerful patient story behind it. I thank them for their interest, show them pictures (of AJ now almost 4 years old and Beaumont now at 4 months) and I depart with a little bit of their love, their understanding and their hearts as a part of me- and I leave a little bit of my family, our story and Regina’s love with them. I am honored to be a part of Regina’s art and I am so very privileged to have Regina’s art, vision, compassion and love as a part of me. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it. Peace and Love, Matthew (and Phoebe and AJ and Beau)

PS. Here is a interview while I am painting Matthew's jacket it is about data access, but I thought it a cool addition to the post...


  1. Regina,

    What wonderful jackets!

    And so surprised to see two jackets that depict the tragedy of preeclampsia in pregnancy - mine is the other one: #124

    I wish I asked when we met at HIMSS, Matthew. It was great talking to you!

  2. Great jacket, great art, great story.

  3. There is so much chatter about various folks in our community. I love to see the respect, collaboration and true badge of Character you know has been earned when a jacket has been created.

    I remember when Matthew's second child was born. He included us in his journey. Continue to be amazed by how honored I feel when folks share their story with us.