Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: family

  • Doctors’ husbands

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.”– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe The stereotypical image of the “medical couple” is changing: it is no longer the doctor-husband and his nonphysician-wife. This change is permanent and will accelerate, since 60% of American medical students1 and 54% of physicians2 are women. Eighty percent…

  • Munchausen by Proxy

    Charles HalstedDavis, California, United States My last patient of the morning was a teenage girl, just turned eighteen. She walked in slowly, her face in agony, apprehensive. Her mother said the pain had begun at age twelve, about when she started to menstruate, yet it never let up, periods or not. Refusing food, she began…

  • Lucid interval

    Emma ManuelEshwar RajeshChennai, India Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, some people like me were silently grateful for the opportunity to spend some time with their family. Born as a single child whose parents got frequent transfers, I had lived with my grandparents to get proper schooling, and then some twenty years passed…

  • The deer trail

    Henri ColtLaguna Beach, California, United States “Ezra, get up! It’s a beautiful morning, and you’re sixteen today!” I playfully shook my son’s shoulder. “It’s six o’clock, Dad, what are you doing?” He buried his head under his pillow and slid under the covers. “We’re going hiking, remember?” Every year, rain or shine, we skipped breakfast…

  • All too human: The mountain gorillas of Uganda

    James L. FranklinChicago, Illinois, United States The Ugandan mountain gorilla is a member of the Hominidae family, also known as the great Apes. The extant species include: the orangutan, the eastern and western gorilla, the chimpanzee, the bonobo, and ourselves—Homo sapiens. The mountain gorilla is one of two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. The one…

  • What she sees

    Michelle M. Kittleson Los Angeles, California, United States   From Openclipart. Public Domain. I know she does not believe me, Why won’t you save my son? Why won’t you see what I see?   Her firstborn; calm and chubby; Why can’t he walk? He’s one. Why won’t you see what I see?   Genetic tests…

  • The names of things

    Joseph Hodapp Cupertino, California, USA   The author’s grandparents. Photo by Laura Hodapp. It’s a gray-sky, late-October afternoon. I just got home from work when I feel my phone buzz in my pocket. The caller ID provides a brief preface: Mom. “Hey Mom, what’s up?” “Hey Hun, I wanted to call you right away… my…

  • A house call

    Martin DukeMystic, Connecticut, United States Many years ago, in the mid 1980s, when I was still in clinical practice, I made a house call accompanied by a second year medical student who was coming to my office one day a week as part of her course in physical diagnosis. The patient I had been called…

  • How to save a life

    Sam CampbellMoh’D IbrahimJohnson City, Tennessee, United States My wife is in Texas, threatening to file divorce papers. I am here, 996 miles away, trying to find Mrs. Smith who has wandered out of her room searching the entire hospital for her dead husband. When I find her on the fourth floor, she asks if I…

  • Rethinking the impulse to empathize: a sister’s perspective on sympathy and stigma

    Jeanne Farnan Pennsylvania, United States   Mary Cassatt, Mother Combing Sara’s Hair, 1901. Private collection. Web Gallery of Impressionism “I am so sorry.” My youngest sister, Annie, was born during the spring semester of my first year of high school. These four words are etched into my memory, integrally intertwined with the events of that…