Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Month: April 2018

  • The history of diabetes and insulin

    Anabelle S. Slingerland Leiden, Netherlands   Figure 1. The Toronto Daily, the Nobel Laureates on track of diabetes cure The discovery of insulin in 1921 by Banting, Best, Collip, and McLeod was heralded as the cure of diabetes (Figure 1). Press reports consigned earlier research to oblivion, suggesting that previous investigators had merely been groping…

  • “Mental Cases” by Wilfred Owen: The suffering of soldiers in World War I

    Alice MacNeill Oxford, United Kingdom   Wilfred Owen plate from Poems (1920). Internet Archive via Wikimedia. Public domain. Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight? Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows, Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish, Baring teeth that leer like skulls’ tongues wicked? Stroke on stroke of pain, — but…

  • Consultation

    Edgar Miller Baltimore, Maryland, USA   The author’s grandparents, both physicians, on rounds at Shanta Bhawan Mission Hospital in Nepal around 1960. Rounds In the round The pale orange Cloud-like couches Filled with suits and ties And men Who sit in reserve Awaiting an opening to offer an opinion To rehash the old, Assure the…

  • Upon viewing Félix Vallotton’s La Malade

    Lois Leveen Portland, Oregon, United States   La Malade (1892) by Félix Vallotton The sick girl turns her back to me The maid won’t meet my eye The near-bare walls hold one dim print The chair sits crookedly The medicines are kept bedside The table can expand That’s how we all know what’s unsaid— More medicines…

  • Enough

    Laura Loertscher Portland, Oregon, United States   Photograph of author (Laura Loertscher) and her son. Personal photograph taken by author’s husband, Jesus Moreno, and submitted with his permission. The last food you ever ate was a cup of orange sherbet from the nurses’ station. I saw no reason to make you NPO. After all, you…

  • Consider the nails of the hand, how they grow (William Bean)

    In the days when the Archives of Internal Medicine was one of the greatest general medicals journal in America, William Bean was its famed editor. Born in 1909 in Manila, he had studied at the University of Charlottesville in Virginia, served in World War II, became professor of medicine in Iowa city, and during his…

  • Henrik Ibsen’s diagnosis of the conscience

    Sally MetzlerChicago, Illinois, United States Dr. Thomas Stockmann, the protagonist in Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play, An Enemy of the People, thought he had finally landed the ideal position as physician for an idyllic Norwegian resort town. He was well-paid and well-connected; his brother was even the mayor. Life and livelihood centered on the public baths…

  • Isidor Snapper: A colorful but tyrannical chief

    The great professor of medicine with the Charles Boyer accent would make ward rounds followed by some thirty students living in constant fear of being publicly humiliated. “You,” he would say, “where do you come from?”—and wherever it was he would then pronounce that “in the country of the blind the one eyed man is…

  • Pathology

    Eden Almasude Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States     Sipping Scotch and watching fava beans Spurt new life from the earth I ruminate: a dead man’s ribcage, mutilated The skin of his scalp, Limp without a skull beneath for: science and medicine? Or curiosity? I smell the morgue In sweat from my run and wonder how he…

  • Edward Jenner and the dairymaid

    Smallpox has plagued mankind since time immemorial, causing huge epidemics with great loss of life and often changing the course of history. The disease could be prevented or ameliorated by variolation, the subcutaneous inoculation with fluid from smallpox lesions into non-immune individuals. Variolation had been used for centuries, even for members of royal families. It…