Tag Archives: Pain

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, USA   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). Objects […]

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 […]

A form of pain

Ifediba Nzube Port Harcourt, Nigeria   Èsù the trickster by Onyeji Prince. For Yewande, pain is Èsù slapping her head like a bata drum. But no one sees that; they see only a tumor pushing out her left eye, up her palate, and through her nostrils. Most days she smells like meat gone green. The […]

Pushing back into chaos

Kyra McComas Salt Lake City, Utah, USA   The pathway of pain according to René Descartes: “Particles of heat” (A) close to the foot (B) contact the skin and pull threads (C) up the body, that “open the pores” (D, E) and allows “animal spirits to flow from a cavity (F) into the muscles,” causing […]