Personal Narratives – Hektoen International


Olga Diganchina Astana, Kazakhstan   “Happy Memories” by Ekaterina Chingilidi. 2014. Published with Permission. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. -Mark Twain   Patients had mostly become faceless for me. I had treated and discharged so many of them as […]

Appendicitis: a teenager’s insight

Berklee K. 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 […]

Letter to my body

Tereza Crvenkovic Sydney, Australia   Me with My Body (author). Photographer: Lenny Christou Dear Body, Here we are clinging to this rope, swinging from side-to-side, above this great big stage with its pitch-black backdrop. Anything could happen to us. Anything. How did it come to this? How did we get here? I do not have the […]

My mother and Proust

Dean Gianakos Lynchburg, Virginia, USA   “Mom, one day I’m going to write a story about you. I’ve already picked out a title: “My Mother and Proust,” I laugh. I look at her face, hoping for a smile. Before my eighty-six-year-old mother developed Parkinson’s dementia a few years ago, she would have laughed with me. […]

Distant memories of medical school – 1950-1954

Martin Duke Mystic, Connecticut, USA   The New York University School of Medicine, 28th Street Building on First Avenue, New York City, opposite Bellevue Hospital, circa 1951. How sweet the silent backward tracings! The wanderings as in dreams—the meditation of old times resumed—their loves, joys, persons, voyages. —Memories by Walt Whitman (1819-1892) 1   It […]

Pitch dark

Ochiche Nnenna Ijeoma Lagos, Nigeria    Pitch dark before midnight I had observed many surgical operations  as a medical student so I knew what to expect. The rules about changing clothes and footwear, the strict hand washing routine, the complex method of putting on the aprons, gowns, and gloves had been drummed into my ears […]

Cancer class

Emily Dieckman Tuscon, Arizona   The author’s aunt documented her mom’s chemotherapy journey through photographs, making signs for loved ones to hold in photographs to show support. (Author photo.) When my parents told me about the cancer, everything felt different. It seemed the entire world had suddenly gone from plain font to italics – everything was […]

The seeds of resilience

Bryanne Standifer Redford, Michigan, USA   Downtown Detroit, MI  “When I think about the city of Detroit, I don’t see a city filled with unskilled and uneducated laborers, I see a platform of opportunity.” One Friday morning in high school, I counted fourteen murders in one week in the city that I call home.  I […]

Family encounters with pathogens 100 years apart

Meredith Wright New York City, New York, USA   Photo of the author’s great-grandmother, Anna, and Anna’s memoir. The memoir was organized by Anna’s daughter Fortunata and has become an important part of the family’s history. Original photograph by Meredith Wright, 2018. After my mother died, I became obsessed with preserving family memories and learning […]

Death and dignity – a lesson learned from my father

Dhastagir Sultan Sheriff Chennai, TN, India   Late President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam “Life Levels All. Death Reveals the Eminent and Dignified” I was working as a professor of biochemistry and as the vice-principal of faculty at the Ambedkar Medical College in Bangalore. It was a welcome change after working in Libya for […]