Tag Archives: Pain

Goals of care

Leah Grant  Portland, Oregon   Photo by Jake Thacker on Unsplash It was the beginning of my intern year and I felt like an impostor. Facing new responsibilities in both the hospital and clinic, I was aware of my lack of experience when patients asked for my medical opinion. But as I began to see […]

The use of language in health and illness narratives

Mariella Scerri Victor Grech  Malta   Portrait of Virginia Woolf in 1902. By George Charles Beresford. Public Domain. Via Wikimedia. “While I was as busy as anyone on the sunny plain of life, I heard of you laid aside in the shadowy recess where our sunshine of hope and joy could never penetrate to you.” […]

Everyone’s pain

David Nathaniel Yim Baltimore, Maryland, United States   Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash During a grueling two-week backpacking trip, I made the conscious commitment to become a physician. I did not realize at the time, but the painfulness of my trek was only beginning. I knew that I had to achieve excellent grades and […]

Cloaked in white

Stacey Maslow Framingham, Massachusetts, United States   Photo courtesy of the author Darkness envelops me. A sliver of light peeks beneath the door from the world beyond the hospital room. Through the window hilled silhouettes stand silent before a veiled black backdrop. My mind wanders to the image of morning in the town just waking […]

Ahab’s gift: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and the meaning of pain

Xi Chen Rochester, New York, United States   A whale being speared with harpoons by fishermen in the arctic sea. Engraving by A. M. Fournier after E. Traviès. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) In the summer months before my first year of medical school, I unfurled the pages of Moby Dick. Immersed […]

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, […]

Charles Darwin’s illnesses

There is a prevalent consensus that most of Charles Darwin’s lifelong symptoms are not attributable to organic disease.1-5 It would seem unlikely that he contracted chronic Chagas disease in South America, because his symptoms began before he ever set foot on the HMS Beagle.2 His various complaints were intermittent, many improved with age, and he […]

James Simpson, who made childbirth painless

A large jolly man with broad shoulders, large hands, blue eyes, and a charismatic personality, James Young Simpson was said to have been the most popular man in Edinburgh since the death of Sir Walter Scott.1 Born in 1811 at Bathgate, he was the seventh son of a village baker in a poor family housed in […]

Drawing the chemotherapy chair

Juliet McMullin California, United States   Brewing Chemo. By Matt Freedman, Relatively Indolent but Relentless: A Cancer Treatment Journal. Copyright© 2014 by Matt Freedman. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Seven Stories Press, www.sevenstories.com. “Arrangement in Grey and Black” is a panel from Brian Fies’ comic Mom’s Cancer (2006). […]

The anthropology of chronic pain

Charles Paccione Oslo, Norway   Image of Dharmakīrtisāgara, one of the Eight Medicine Buddhas, from the upper book cover of The Sūtra of Great Liberation. Courtesy of U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Health & Human Services, [2010]. The global burden of chronic pain is large and growing. About 25% of patients […]