Tag Archives: Fall 2015

“Breath of life you’ll be to me” – the portrayal of tuberculosis in the opera ‘La Traviata’

Judith Wagner Munich, Germany   Maria Callas in La Traviata The white half-round of the stage is illuminated with an eerie blue light. The only prop is a large clock on the right-hand side. A dark figure is seated beside it. The door on the left opens and the heroine – clad all in red […]

Euterpe Deconstructed: Reflections on the health, illness, and legacy of Wolfgang Mozart

Vincent de Luise   Wolfgang Mozart, age 26, by his brother-in-law Joseph Lange (1782-1789). Who was Mozart? Of course, we all know his music. The music! That music, so refined and richly textured, melodic, timeless, ineffably beautiful, and sublime. But, who was Mozart? Who was the man behind those genius creations? So much has been […]

A musical vision: the eyes of Bach and Handel

Vincent P. de Luise   George Frideric Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach, the towering musical giants of the Baroque, were both coincidently born in Germany about a month apart, in 1685. They also shared the musical style distinctive of the high Baroque characterized by the masterful use of counterpoint and fugal composition. Handel’s oratorios, notably Messiah and Samson, […]

Oliver Sacks and seeing beyond synecdoche

Colleen Donnelly   Thus she was a ‘moron’, ‘fool’, a ‘booby’, or so had appeared and so been called, throughout her whole life, but one with an unexpected, strangely moving, poetic power.  Superficially she was a mass of handicaps and incapacities, with the intense frustrations and anxieties attendant on these; at this level she was, […]

Sugar High and Low

Ruth Deming Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, United States   On one of the hottest Augusts on record my daughter and I sat mopping our brows in the famous White Dog café. We had walked from Thirtieth Street Station in Philadelphia to this, our occasional meeting place. She was from Brooklyn and was my closest confidante. From […]

The end of sight at the end of life

Vincent de Luise    Physicians find it difficult to confront and accept end-of-life issues in their patients because their professional education and ethos inform them to do all they can do to treat disease and prolong life. This is particularly difficult for ophthalmologists, who for decades have proudly trumpeted their splendid victories over various causes […]

The humanities in a traditional medical school

P. Ravi Shankar Aruba, Kingdom of the Netherlands Having been involved with medical humanities for over eight years in medical schools in Nepal and Aruba, I began to think about my own medical education in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The term medical humanities was not in vogue in India during those days, and […]

Mrs. Collins and the Body Snatchers

Michael Ellman Chicago, Illinois, United States   In the morning the Medicine Consultation Service clears patients so they can undergo surgery. Fees from the operating rooms are the cash cow that drives the hospital. We read the electrocardiograms and declare no ischemia, lower the blood sugar with quick acting insulin, treat the hypokalemia with 20 […]

Verdi and Velázquez: perceptive sensitization in clinical medical education

Daniel V. Schidlow Florence Gelo Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   “Observe, record, tabulate, communicate. Use your five senses. Learn to see, learn to hear, learn to feel, learn to smell and know that by practice alone you can become expert.” —Sir William Osler (1849–1919)   A group of third-year medical students enters the office, anxious […]

The girl with the name of a flower

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   It had been a placid day and I was anticipating a quiet evening at the office. My schedule only listed three patient appointments, an hour’s work at the most. Even allowing for the occasional last-minute visitor, all should be fine, with plenty of time to spare. A chance to go […]