Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Month: February 2021

  • Winston Churchill’s Illnesses

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, United Kingdom Winston Churchill was one of the most important political figures of the twentieth century. As such, it is not surprising that he has been the subject of many biographies that have chronicled his life and many achievements, most notably the comprehensive eight-volume opus by British historian and Churchill scholar, Martin…

  • The trouble with the belly button

    Tonse N. K. RajuGaithersburg, Maryland, United States It is a simple dimple in the mid-abdomen. Yet for medieval artists, it caused mighty headaches while painting portraits of Adam and Eve. Painting the dimple as a natural anatomic feature could be construed as sacrilegious, implying that Adam and Eve were connected by umbilical cords to their…

  • Hematoxylin and Eosin Abstraction

    Lily Mahler Birmingham, Alabama, United States   Hematoxylin and Eosin Abstraction is a watercolor piece inspired by the histopathology of a liver affected by hereditary hemochromatosis. Bands of deep blue iron deposits cut through a verdant garden of hepatocytes in this composition. Hematoxylin and Eosin Abstraction (2020) Lily Mahler, MS4 at University of Alabama School of…

  • Goals of care

    Leah Grant  Portland, Oregon   Photo by Jake Thacker on Unsplash It was the beginning of my intern year and I felt like an impostor. Facing new responsibilities in both the hospital and clinic, I was aware of my lack of experience when patients asked for my medical opinion. But as I began to see…

  • Lawson Tait, father of aseptic surgery and gynecology

    Robert Lawson Tait. via Wikimedia. Robert Lawson Tait was fifth in a dynasty of pioneers who helped transform surgery from a primitive craft to a sophisticated life-saving art. They all worked for a time at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary—James Syme (the “Napoleon of Surgery”), Robert Liston (“time me, gentlemen”), James Simpson (“made childbirth painless”), and…

  • Milwaukee’s unlikely public health advocate

    Lea DacyRochester, MN, United States The story of my mother’s possible childhood episode of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) has lived on in family lore because of its link with a notorious legendary figure in Milwaukee history. One Sunday afternoon, Helen Cromell (she later changed it to Cromwell), or “Dirty Helen” as she is…

  • A note on medical metaphors

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Cafe au lait patches in NF1. © 1993-2021, University of Washington, Seattle. From GeneReviews. Source. When Winston Churchill memorably referred to his bouts of depression as “black dog,” in two words he painted a picture that embraced feelings, which otherwise would have taken hundreds of words to describe. I have to…

  • Twins

    John Graham-Pole Clydesdale, Nova Scotia, Canada   Artwork by Susan Napier. Published with permission. Why was she taken? While you remain to question me for your school project? Renee had a project. Her seventh-grade class had been set the task of composing an essay on some aspect of American society. She had settled on tackling…

  • Abraham Lincoln’s smallpox

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden A brutal, bloody civil war had been tearing the United States of America apart for two years when President Abraham Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863. Four months before his visit, Gettysburg had been the site of a major battle between the secessionist Confederacy of the southern, slave-holding states…

  • Giorgio Baglivi and The Practice of Physick

    James Marcum Waco, Texas, United States   Figure 1. Illustration of Giorgio Baglivi from The Practice of Physick by Giorgio Baglivi. Scan courtesy of James A. Marcum “To form a right Judgment of Diseases, is a very difficult Matter.” With this opening sentence, Giorgio Baglivi (Figure 1) began his 1696 treatise De Praxi Medica, which…