Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Fall 2017

  • African medicine

    Sheillah MaongaLondon, United Kingdom My mind was always stubbornly set against African medicine and I did not pay much heed to it even when I visited Africa for two weeks each year. It was something that had no bearing on me—until last year when I took my child to see my mother. My mother lives…

  • Polio conundrums

    Denis GillDublin, Ireland For most children, infection with the polio virus caused no symptoms or a minor illness. But about 1% of those infected experienced paralysis of one or both lower limbs. Worse still, bulbar paralysis could lead to the inability to breathe. The effects of polio were devastating for a previously well child. Polio…

  • Leprosy: A nearly forgotten malady

    JMS PearceHull Royal Infirmary Leprosy was the first proven instance of a bacterium causing a human disease. Along with plague, poliomyelitis, and smallpox, leprosy has beleaguered mankind for millennia, causing devastating and often fatal infections that were historically impossible to cure or prevent. The nervous system, skin,and eyes are the main sites affected. The word…

  • Discovering migraines

    Catherine LanserMadison, Wisconsin, United States My headaches started after my first period when I was a freshman in high school. They were dull, daily, aching headaches that were manageable. I usually just took some acetaminophen and they went away. But none had been as bad as the one gripping me on one memorable day. I…

  • Poe’s consumptive paradox

    Gregory RuteckiCleveland, Ohio, United States Tuberculosis may have killed more people than any pathogen in history1 leaving an array of terrible stigmata whenever it extinguished life. The essential image of tuberculosis in the eighteenth century was that of foul decay.2 Morgagni vividly described the road to a consumptive death as, “(she) threw up pus by…

  • Uncertainty and clinical truths

    Anjan BanerjeeCambridgeshire, United Kingdom “Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability” (William Osler) Monday 15:35 pm The ninety-eight year old patient with piercing blue eyes and a quizzical expression sat in her wheelchair in the colorectal clinic. We sat facing each other in a bare, windowless room, knees almost touching. She…

  • A hospital for sick children

    Joseph deBettencourt Chicago, Illinois, United States   An artist’s rendering of the original Great Ormond Street Hospital building in 1882, before it was demolished. “49 Great Ormond Street, London, in course of demolition.” J.P. Emslie, 1882, Wellcome Collection, UK  Wellcome Collection. Down a narrow street in an old London neighborhood sat a large, forgotten house.…

  • Ibn al-Nafis and the pulmonary circulation

    Medical advances are often made over long periods of time, making it difficult to assign priority to any particular individual. Such has been the case for the ”discovery” of the pulmonary circulation, a distinction variously assigned to three anatomists of the sixteenth century, Michael Servetus, Realdo Colombo, and Andrea Cesalpino. But in 1924 the Egyptian…

  • Public health measures derived from the Jewish tradition: III. The Bris: Jewish ritual circumcision and hemophilia

    Matthew MigliozziDavid ForsteinSarah RindnerRobert SternNew York City, New York, United States Historically, Jewish contributions to public health measures have not been given adequate attribution. The previous articles in this series have documented (1) the ancient Jewish recognition of the importance of isolating individuals with an infectious disease; (2) recognition of tuberculosis as an infectious disorder…

  • Welcome aboard

    Myron F. Weiner Dallas, TX   Charon carries souls across the river Styx Greetings! Welcome to your afterlife! I am Charon, your boatman; your guide from life to death. Life differs for everyone who is born. Death is the same. Although, stooped, I am strong enough To convey you to See the river the Greeks…