Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: phlebotomy

  • Did Ernest Hemingway have the Celtic curse?

    Philip R. Liebson Chicago, Illinois, United States   Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize for Literature, 1954. GPA Photo Archive. Via Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0 Considering Ernest Hemingway’s mishaps before he died in 1961 by a self-inflicted shotgun wound, it is surprising that he lived so long. He survived two plane crashes several days apart that left…

  • Heart failure

    Charles Halsted Davis California, United States By the time I completed my third medical school year, I had learned the basics of physiology and biochemistry, but had never been face-to-face with a person who depended upon my skills to survive. I had never heard a racing heart nor the sounds of gurgling lungs. I was assigned…

  • Bloodletting and the treatment of menstrual disorders in early modern England

    Rhianna ElliottCambridgeshire, United Kingdom Bloodletting, also known as “phlebotomy,” was a common preventive and therapeutic medical practice in early modern England. Its theoretical foundation was in humorism, the ancient medical system where bodily health depended on the balance between four fluid humors (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile). Yet even amongst lay people with…

  • Control of blood

    E.C. Spary United Kingdom Figure 1. Blood spurting from the neck of a decapitated human sacrifice in this bas-relief on the wall of this Mayan temple at Chichen Itza (Yucatan, Mexico) transforms into snakes, indicating its connection to power, life and death. Blood, that vivid liquid within our bodies, has an attraction for human cultures…

  • Bloody beginnings of hematology

    Sherin Jose ChockattuBengaluru, India His pole, with pewter basins hung,Black, rotten teeth in order strung,Rang’d cups that in the window stood,Lin’d with red rags, to look like blood,Did well his threefold trade explain,Who shav’d, drew teeth, and breathd a vein – John Gay (The Goat Without a Beard, 1727) For over three millennia, self-taught physicians…

  • Training wheels

    Shannon KernaghanAlberta, Canada From the beginning of Paul’s dance with doctors, I have sat next to him and squeezed his hand through the pronouncement of hemochromatosis. The first doctor said his high iron level, if left untreated, would make him sicker than he already felt, possibly kill him. The laundry list of complications started with…

  • Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?: Erzsébet Báthory and the curative power of blood in medieval Europe

    Joanna SmolenskiNew York, United States If the body is seen either as enclosed and filled with blood, or as vulnerable and bleeding, then blood can also only be interpreted either as life (when it fills the intact body) or as death (when it has left the body). (Bildhauer 2006: 5) In medieval Europe, blood played…