Monthly Archives: December 2017

Leprosy: A nearly forgotten malady

JMS Pearce Hull Royal Infirmary   Fig 1. Patient at St. Jørgen’s Hospital Leprosy was the first proven instance of a bacterium causing a human disease. Along with plague, poliomyelitis, and smallpox, leprosy has beleaguered mankind for millennia, causing devastating and often fatal infections that were historically impossible to  cure or prevent. The nervous system, skin,and eyes […]

Discovering migraines

Catherine Lanser Madison, Wisconsin, United States   My headaches started after my first period when I was a freshman in high school. They were dull, daily, aching headaches that were manageable. I usually just took some acetaminophen and they went away. But none had been as bad as the one gripping me on one memorable […]

Poe’s consumptive paradox

Gregory Rutecki Cleveland, Ohio, United States   Tuberculosis may have killed more people than any pathogen in history1 leaving an array of terrible stigmata whenever it extinguished life. The essential image of tuberculosis in the eighteenth century was that of foul decay.2 Morgagni vividly described the road to a consumptive death as, “(she) threw up […]

Uncertainty and clinical truths

Anjan Banerjee Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom   “Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability” (William Osler)   Monday 15:35 pm Franciso Goya. Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta, 1820. The ninety-eight year old patient with piercing blue eyes and a quizzical expression sat in her wheelchair in the colorectal clinic. We sat facing each […]

A hospital for sick children

Joseph deBettencourt Chicago, Illinois, United States   An artist’s rendering of the original Great Ormond Street Hospital building in 1882, before it was demolished. “49 Great Ormond Street, London, in course of demolition.” J.P. Emslie, 1882, Wellcome Collection, UK  Wellcome Collection. Down a narrow street in an old London neighborhood sat a large, forgotten house. […]

Ibn al-Nafis and the pulmonary circulation

Medical advances are often made over long periods of time, making it difficult to assign priority to any particular individual. Such has been the case for the ”discovery” of the pulmonary circulation, a distinction variously assigned to three anatomists of the sixteenth century, Michael Servetus, Realdo Colombo, and Andrea Cesalpino. But in 1924 the Egyptian […]

Public health measures derived from the Jewish tradition: III. The Bris: Jewish ritual circumcision and hemophilia

Matthew Migliozzi, David Forstein, Sarah Rindner, Robert Stern New York City, New York, United States   The circumcision of Isaac. The Regensburg Pentateuch, 1305, now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Historically, Jewish contributions to public health measures have not been given adequate attribution. The previous articles in this series have documented (1) the ancient Jewish […]

Welcome aboard

Myron F. Weiner Dallas, TX   Charon carries souls across the river Styx Greetings! Welcome to your afterlife! I am Charon, your boatman; your guide from life to death. Life differs for everyone who is born. Death is the same. Although, stooped, I am strong enough To convey you to See the river the Greeks […]

An “enematic” saga

F. Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, USA   Primitive method of administering an enema, by blowing directly without the use of an injector1 Apothecary holding an enema syringe2 “The Enema”3 Those of us who have managed to survive sixty, seventy, or more years remember that the enema or clyster was, by far, the commonest home remedy in […]

Behind the green partition

James Smith United Kingdom   Author’s note Any attempt to truly understand the impact of humanitarian crises on individual lives, particularly when perpetuated over the course of many years, may feel like an ever-receding ambition for those invested in humanitarian response. This is further complicated by sectoral advocacy strategies and programmes that speak of aggregate […]