Tag Archives: Anthony Papagiannis

A wrong time to die

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Lockdown in Thessaloniki. Photo by the author. Death is the one absolute and unexceptional certainty in life. In the Bible we read that there is a time for everything, including a time to die [Ecclesiastes 3:2]. Is there ever a “right” time to die? Faced with such a question, we […]

Young, pretty, and not quite right

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Photo by Anthony Papagiannis. Unless we are in pediatrics, we start in clinical practice with our patients tending to be in the age range of our parents, or even older. Increasingly, as the grey in our temples is promoted to silver, their mean age gets closer to ours, and the […]

Not-so-natural history

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Photo by Anthony Papagiannis Physicians learn about chronic disease by watching its natural history and attempting to modify it with therapies. Cardiologists record episodes of ischemic disease, oncologists follow the progression of malignancies, and pulmonologists note changes in respiratory function over time. When patients are first seen, the disease is […]

Great expectations

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Summer Calm—image by the author “Doctor, I want you to treat her as a forty-year old!” What is the appropriate answer to a demand like that from a daughter about the treatment of her eighty-eight-year-old mother? Any suggestion that her mother might not do well even with the best treatment […]

Washing our hands

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Winter Sunshine, Halkidiki, Greece. Photo by the author Ever since Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, washed his hands before condemning Jesus Christ to death by crucifixion, this simple act of personal sanitation has been used as the figurative icon of a disclaimer, the denial of responsibility. Today, in […]

A lesson in physiology

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Waterfront Promenade, Thessaloniki, Greece. Photograph by the author. The contours are quite familiar, both to the eye and the touch. My hand strokes its counterpart, its twin sibling: they have been working together ever since I first saw the light of the day in this world. They have washed, clasped, […]

Brief encounters

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Quicksilver in blue. Photo by Anthony Papagiannis. Doctor-patient relationships are as unique as the potential pairs of doctors and patients. At one end of the spectrum there is the one-time encounter, usually for some straightforward and self-limiting problem: the doctor may never see the patient again. At the other extreme, […]

Preparing for the unexpected

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Sunset in Halkidiki, Greece, Fall 2019. Photo by Anthony Papagiannis. Working in specialist medical practice one is familiar with the spectrum of clinical problems likely to appear in one’s regular professional menu. However, it is common knowledge that unexpected situations do occur: the human body and being is complex and […]

Life is short and Art is long: reflections on the first Hippocratic aphorism

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   The ruins of the Asclepeion in the Greek island of Kos, the birthplace of Hippocrates. Photo courtesy of author. Some five centuries before Christ, the ancient father of medicine Hippocrates used to instruct his students that “Life is short and Art is long; opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult.” (Ο […]

Dialogues of comfort

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Roman copy of a bust of Homer, 2nd century AD, British Museum, London. My patient is a veteran physician, quite advanced in years but mentally lucid and fully aware of his condition. His disease is incurable, and he is in need of a chest aspiration for symptomatic relief of his breathlessness. […]