Monthly Archives: August 2018

“The GBM in Room 9”: on the objectifying power of naming and diagnosing

Atara Messinger Toronto, Ontario, Canada   French literary theorist and philosopher Maurice Blanchot (1907-2003) I wheeled the patient through the double doors into the operating room. As I parked the hospital bed next to the operating table, I quickly glanced at the patient’s chart. NAME: ‘J.’ AGE: 28. HISTORY: Progressive headaches, visual changes, and right-sided […]

Jan Steen: quack doctors visit lovesick maidens

  Like his contemporary Molière, the Dutchman Jan Steen makes fun of quack doctors, often shown in ridiculous costumes visiting young love-sick or pregnant women. In the Lovesick Maiden (Fig.1, Metropolitan Museum) the diagnosis is suggested by the painting of a Cupid above the door, the bed on the right, and the bed-warmer on the […]

Pietro Longhi: appearances are deceiving

Sally Metzler Chicago, Illinois, United States   Pietro Longhi’s depictions of Venetian society delight the eye by his detailed renderings of elegant satin dresses, demure shoes, and fashionable wigs. But appearances can be deceiving. Though he lavishes attention on the attractive façade of his subjects, he is equally concerned with their actions. He invites the […]

Giorgio Baglivi, a leading physician of his time

  Giorgio Baglivi (1668-1707) contributed much to our understanding of muscle structure and function, as well as publishing classic descriptions of pulmonary edema and other disorders. Born Duro Armeno in the Republic of Ragusa (now Dubrovnik), he was probably of Armenian descent. His parents dying when he was young, he left for southern Italy, where […]

Familial food

Catherine Lanser Madison, Wisconsin, USA     The author’s father cooking in the kitchen before his stroke. My brother Rick’s house was warm with the scent of food. He had made huge pans of lasagna to comfort my family a few weeks after my dad’s stroke. My mom, eight siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews sat […]

The tempestuous reign of King Sugar: superfood to health hazard

John Turner Liverpool, United Kingdom   Sugar Loaf and Victorian Sugar Scissors, ‘Nippers’ c.1850. Islington Education Collection, London “What am I to buy for the sheep-shearing feast? Three pounds of sugar, five pound of currants . . .” – William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act IV Scene iii, 36-49 A scarce, expensive luxury sweetener for two thousand […]

Christian cutting at Vancouver General

Amber Moore Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada   Vancouver General Hospital She calls it “Christian cutting,” and laughs dryly, as if trying to soak the secret back up. It’s futile; in the Psychiatry Assessment Unit at Vancouver General, everything spills out eventually anyway- it gushes. Carving crucifixes in her skin, she prays to Mary because Jesus […]

Signs

Jack Riggs Morgantown, West Virginia, United States     Signs may be confusing and convey different meanings to various audiences (US military camp, Kuwait 2005). “This is no way to treat soldiers!” The lieutenant colonel was furious as he screamed at me over the phone. After sufficient venting had occurred, I ventured a nonthreatening interjection. […]

Appendicitis: a teenager’s insight

Berklee Cohen Clarksville, Maryland, United States   Berklee and his sister displaying their appendectomy scars in front of the community hospital where they underwent surgery. If we have enjoyed good health for most of our lives, we often take that health and happiness for granted. An event occurred during summer break that enabled me to […]

Shadow self

Anna Byrd Los Angeles, California, United States   Rice Bowl. Photo by Anna Byrd, 2017. When was I was twenty-three years old and weighed ninety-eight pounds, I thought I was fat. I wanted to look like a model, except my hair was falling out, I was bleeding from my nose and ears in my sleep, […]