Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Anthony Papagiannis

  • The root of all problems

    Anthony PapagiannisThessaloniki, Greece Several years ago, I had a neighbor in his eighties who was also my patient. Whenever the need arose I would visit him at home after office hours, and we would have an informal chat as his children were friends of mine from our school years. One evening, he asked me to…

  • Endurance

    Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece One of the things we learn in medicine, not from books but from the daily encounters with patients over the years, and which never stops pleasantly surprising us, is man’s endurance in all kinds of adversity and hardship, including serious health problems. No diagnostic test, biological marker or imaging modality, however…

  • Saying goodbye

    Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   “A walk into life’s sunset.” Photo by author. Her head is bald, her face pale. Only a couple of weeks have passed since her latest cycle of chemotherapy, which imposed its ravages but offered no benefit. The disease is marching relentlessly ahead, the survival horizon drawing closer each day. She…

  • Once a professor…

    Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   “Good morning, Professor.” Lake Kremasta, Greece. Photo by author. The elderly man I address by this title lies in bed, visibly weak and rather exhausted, a clean white sheet drawn up to his neck. He has been in the hospital for several days now, and the forced immobility has added…

  • Rapid testing for the masses

    Anthony PapagiannisThessaloniki, Greece Ten young girls are queueing outside the makeshift surgery. They are between eleven and fifteen, they wear face masks, they giggle and tease each other and try to encourage the timid ones before the coming ordeal. What is this going to be? Their first visit to a gynecologist? Nothing so memorable. They…

  • Spoilsports

    Anthony PapagiannisThessaloniki, Greece The weekly grand rounds was the central educational event at the big teaching hospital. Everybody who could get away from clinical duties, regardless of specialty, attended the Tuesday lunchtime event at which we aspired to present our interesting or puzzling patients, or earn brownie points by hitting the obscure diagnosis that had…

  • Drama in brief

    Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Winter foliage. Photo by author. Four years earlier I had had the sad duty to announce her debut as a protagonist on the stage of cancer. Now I was witnessing the last act. She came to the first visit with her elder sister, an old acquaintance from our student days…

  • R. Austin Freeman and the Victorian forensic thriller

    Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Richard Austin Freeman, c. 1935. W.L. Briant. Via Encyclopædia Britannica. Many people today are acquainted with well-known books and television series of forensic crime fiction. The modern detective fiction writer is expected to provide detailed descriptions of autopsies, current technology, pharmacology, and toxicology. Yet, even in this relatively new version…

  • Sacrifice

    Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Ruins of the basilica of St. Achillios, Lake Prespa, Greece. Photo by the author. The supine and inert feminine form has been reduced to a few square centimeters of uncovered skin between the jaw and the sternum. Strategically placed green surgical drapes shroud the rest of the body. A series…

  • Doctor-patient reunions

    Anthony Papagiannis  Thessaloniki, Greece   Sunset. Photo by Anthony Papagiannis The upper half of the face I could see behind the Covid-dictated mask did not tell me much, but the surname she gave rang a clear bell. I had seen several members of a family of the same name in the past, and looking into…