Personal Narratives | Hektoen International

Letter to my body

Tereza Crvenkovic Sydney, Australia (Spring 2018)   Me with My Body (author). Photographer: Lenny Christou Dear Body, Here we are clinging to this rope, swinging from side-to-side, above this great big stage with its pitch-black backdrop. Anything could happen to us. Anything. How did it come to this? How did we get here? I do not […]

My mother and Proust

Dean Gianakos Lynchburg, Virginia, United States (Spring 2018)   “Mom, one day I’m going to write a story about you. I’ve already picked out a title: “My Mother and Proust,” I laugh. I look at her face, hoping for a smile. Before my eighty-six-year-old mother developed Parkinson’s dementia a few years ago, she would have […]

Distant memories of medical school – 1950-1954

Martin Duke Mystic, Connecticut, United States (Spring 2018)   The New York University School of Medicine, 28th Street Building on First Avenue, New York City, opposite Bellevue Hospital, circa 1951. How sweet the silent backward tracings! The wanderings as in dreams—the meditation of old times resumed—their loves, joys, persons, voyages. —Memories by Walt Whitman (1819-1892) […]

Pitch dark

Ochiche Nnenna Ijeoma Lagos, Nigeria (Winter 2018)    Pitch dark before midnight I had observed many surgical operations  as a medical student so I knew what to expect. The rules about changing clothes and footwear, the strict hand washing routine, the complex method of putting on the aprons, gowns, and gloves had been drummed into […]

Cancer class

Emily Dieckman Tuscon, Arizona (Winter 2018)   The author’s aunt documented her mom’s chemotherapy journey through photographs, making signs for loved ones to hold in photographs to show support. (Author photo.) When my parents told me about the cancer, everything felt different. It seemed the entire world had suddenly gone from plain font to italics – […]

The seeds of resilience

Bryanne Standifer Redford, Michigan, United States  (Winter 2018)   Downtown Detroit, MI  “When I think about the city of Detroit, I don’t see a city filled with unskilled and uneducated laborers, I see a platform of opportunity.” One Friday morning in high school, I counted fourteen murders in one week in the city that I […]

Family encounters with pathogens 100 years apart

Meredith Wright New York City, New York (Winter 2018)   Photo of the author’s great-grandmother, Anna, and Anna’s memoir. The memoir was organized by Anna’s daughter Fortunata and has become an important part of the family’s history. Original photograph by Meredith Wright, 2018. After my mother died, I became obsessed with preserving family memories and […]

Death and dignity – a lesson learned from my father

Dhastagir Sultan Sheriff Chennai, TN, India   Late President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam “Life Levels All. Death Reveals the Eminent and Dignified” I was working as a professor of biochemistry and as the vice-principal of faculty at the Ambedkar Medical College in Bangalore. It was a welcome change after working in Libya for […]

Trauma vicariously: a writer’s madness

Kirsten Fogg Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Winter 2018)   The author, Kirsten Fogg, at the State Library of Queensland, Brisbane Australia. It started with a lump in my throat. Actually, it started before that. Last year when I embarked on a project gathering stories of belonging, I tried to be witty and philosophical by quoting author […]

The disease you do not see

Aaron Berkowitz New York, New York (Winter 2018)   Self Portrait, By Aaron Berkowitz (author) You look normal, good even. Statistically you are bigger, stronger than billions of people alive (and those who have died). You learn to repeat mantras to affirm your being. There is power in prayer when action is impossible. You cry […]