Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Spring 2011

  • Breese Nursing Home: an exploration of humanity and love

    Ellen Jantzen Newport Beach, California, United States   I attended a nursing home Christmas party at the Breese Nursing Home in Illinois the week before Christmas, 2010 and was very moved by the residents and their families; it was a life-changing event for me. Before, while visiting my mother-in-law, I would divert my eyes when…

  • Balloons

    John A. Vanek St. Petersburg, Florida, USA Poet’s statement: Poetry provides a vehicle that takes me to places that logic won’t go, a way of understanding the incomprehensible, both in life and in medicine. I now prescribe poetry PRN (“as needed”), but warn that it may hurt a little. My poems are peopled with my family,…

  • Always, Autumn Leaves

     John A. Vanek St. Petersburg, Florida, United States   Poet’s statement: Poetry provides a vehicle that takes me to places that logic won’t go, a way of understanding the incomprehensible, both in life and in medicine. I now prescribe poetry PRN (“as needed”), but warn that it may hurt a little. My poems are peopled with…

  • The Homemaker

    Jessica A. Harder, MD Boston, Massachusetts, USA Poet’s statement: My poems explore moments of intense emotive experience, particularly themes of overwhelming awe and wonder, sensual delight, and excruciating empathy with those in pain or suffering. They also ponder the limits of human understanding, especially of science and the natural world, and the larger questions of meaning-making…

  • Blind faith

    Susan Woldenberg ButlerCanberra, Australia This fictional short story was published in Secrets from the Black Bag (Royal College of General Practitioners Publications; London, December, 2005). Some patients will do anything we tell them. Others obey their spouses blindly. Ambrose O’Sullivan did as his wife directed. It killed her. “Divina won’t be needing that toe massage…

  • There is a time

    Joel L. Chinitz Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Vanitas, 1686 Adriaen Coorte, Dutch (1660–1707) Oil on canvas 19.72 × 16.3 in When the doors flew open, the noisy hoard—many in dirty, white jackets and floppy, bloodstained, green pants—circled the nurses’ station and overran the medical Intensive Care Unit. Wednesday renal rounds had begun. As two…

  • ‘The lament of the Old Woman of Beare’—contrasting the passage of life

    Basil Brooke Johannesburg, South Africa   Hag’s Head (Ceann Cailli) © Bob Jones   It is well for an island of the great sea: flood comes to it after its ebb; as for me, I expect no flood after ebb to come to me. Today there is scarcely a dwelling-place I could recognize; what was…

  • Ending one’s life on the stage

    Angela Belli New York City, New York, United States   Writers and physicians often share the same sensibilities and skills required to describe the disease process and its wider effects. But while the literary artist, unlike the physician, relies on his imagination to realize the experience of his fictional characters, he can also engage the…

  • My mom’s death

    Kristen Erickson Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, United States   My mom, Tracey, died just over nine years ago at the age of 39. I had just turned 16. Diagnosed with glioblastoma in July 2001, my mother’s last six months were filled with surgeries, infections, and radiation treatments. She rapidly declined in strength, followed by confusion and death.…

  • Letters to Dad

    Erin Brady Chicago, Illinois, United States   My father died in an electrical accident. He had always been a skilled handyman, and he was beginning a major renovation on our new house. One Saturday afternoon, he was in the attic trying to get the sconces and the ceiling fan in the family room to work…