Monthly Archives: December 2018

Taking a History in the ICU: Social: Does your husband still smoke?

Sophia Valesca Görgens Atlanta, Georgia, United States   Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash He smokes when he thinks I’m not looking, she tells me, then glances at him as if expecting him to contradict her but the ventilator is pressed to his face and his eyes are lidded dim with midazolam for sedation, fentanyl […]

The brief and strange history of mesmerism and surgery

Tyler Rouse Stratford, Ontario, Canada   A Practitioner of Mesmerism using Animal Magnetism Wood engraving. Mesmer, Franz Anton 1734-1815. Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 4.0. The modern era of surgery is often thought to have begun with the introduction of ether, allowing surgeons to operate on insensible patients, and do more than ever before. […]

Cecil Rhodes: The man with a hole in his heart

There must be few people in the world who can locate with confidence Northern or Southern Rhodesia on a map of Africa. Yet these countries still exist, only the names have changed. Nor would the man who founded them win a contemporary popularity contest. In fact, his statue at the University of Cape Town was […]

George Stubbs—“horse painter” and anatomist

Nothing exemplifies more the French saying “on revient toujour a son premier amour” (one always returns to one’s first love) than the life of George Stubbs. Already at the age of eight he was sketching animal bones in his father’s tannery in Liverpool. Later, as a teenager, he was dissecting dogs and horses, then decided […]

A Treatment for “Circular Insanity”: Joseph Roth’s Radetzky March

Sally Metzler Chicago, Illinois, United States   Madness and decay of society permeate Joseph Roth’s brooding novel The Radetsky March (1932). One character, Herr von Taussig, experiences attacks of “circular insanity.”1 The recommended cure is an institution on Lake Constance, where Von Taussig receives treatment by “mundane and feather-brained physicians who prescribe ‘spiritual emotions,’ just […]

John Keats – one whose name was writ in water

John Keats, one of the great poets of all times, was born near Moorgate in London in 1795. His father was an inn stable keeper (an ostler), who one night fell off a horse and fatally fractured his skull, leaving his family somewhat impecunious.1 John, sibling of four, was far from a model pupil in […]

Where am I when my digital footprint persists indefinitely?

Naomi Rachel Oldham West London, United Kingdom   “Dead Prescence in the Digital Age” by Naomi Rachel Oldham Exhibited in the Blyth Gallery May 9-24, 2018 Our digital selves remain present in the world even after we have died. Social media and email accounts, websites to which we have subscribed, photos, videos, and voice messages […]

From the goddess of healing to hair of the dog: the role of canines in health myth and fact

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, USA    “A sculpture of Gula, Sumerian deity of healing, with a dog at her side.” Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY The landscape of Mesopotamia was riddled with challenges, but for every problem that arose there was a deity to petition. Of these perhaps the most well-known was Inanna or Ishtar, who influenced […]

John Tyndall, FRS: The beauty of science

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. John Tyndall FRS [This media file is in the public domain in the United States.] Over many centuries non-medical people have carried out research into disease and its causes, often making important advances. The 1841 Census estimates suggest a third of all medical practitioners in England were unqualified.a The […]

I tried to write a dementia poem

Mac Greene Indianapolis, Indiana, United States   I tried to write… Did I tell you already? About the softball team on my first job, and I left my mitt on the front seat of my 1965 Chevy pickup that I sold for a hundred fifty dollars in Rappahannock County, with the ball in the pocket […]