Tag Archives: Spring 2018

Gerard van Swieten and his reforms

A massive statue in Vienna shows the empress Maria Theresia, imperial in bronze as she had been in life, surrounded by her generals and by an ennobled Dutch physician, the Baron Gerard van Swieten. She had recruited him from the medical department of the great Herman Boerhaave in Leiden, and he had come to Vienna […]

Decoding doctor-speak in the era of OpenNotes

Jennifer Wineke Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Modern-day doctors share a common dilemma: how do you get all of the necessary information into the electronic medical record while still being present with the patient? Every doctor I have talked to approaches this challenge a little differently. Some acknowledge the impersonality upfront and apologize to the […]

Not by blood

Simon Edber Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States     Child Seated on a Sofa (1883) by Mary Cassatt National Gallery of Art, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection Raven knows exactly how she joined the family: “She didn’t want me so she took me to the hospital, and then you came and bought me from the hospital.” Well, almost […]

Why not let her go gently into that good night?

Victoria Lim Iowa City, Iowa, United States    Old woman dozing (1656) Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693) One early morning I was paged to see an eighty-five-year-old patient in the dialysis unit with low blood pressure. I learned that she had diabetes, hypertension, and diffuse atherosclerosis. In the past decade she had undergone four major surgeries for […]

Arthur Conan Doyle and the romance of medicine

Michael D. Shulman Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA     Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  For medical professionals devoted to good literature, Dr. (later Sir) Arthur Conan Doyle is a source of possessive pride. He is someone like them, a physician with the interests of a polymath and the creative sensibility of an artist. And yet this cannot […]

Through the magic door with Conan Doyle

  “Father said it used to be a gentleman was known by his books.” — William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury   You are invited, gentle reader, to walk through the magic door and step into the library. Smoking is allowed, says your host, as he invites you to sit on the green settee […]

Tending Babe Ruth’s grave

Jacob M. Appel New York City, New York, USA   Babe Ruth’s grave in Gate of Heaven Cemetery   We’ve got our share of notables and has-beens, Mobsters and vaudeville stars and even Bess Houdini, Harry’s widow, tucked under polished Barre granite, But the Babe’s our star attraction. Old-time fans And kids stuffed into vintage […]

Jewish ritual immersion in the mikveh and the concept of communal immunity

Robert Stern Piotr Kozlowski David Forstein New York City, New York, United States   Figure 1. Mikveh in Palestine from the Biblical era The mikveh may be seen as part of the sociobiological process assuring the gradual cross exposure of community members to the biomes of other members. It also provides controlled exposure to the biomes […]

The painter and the potter: voices in color and texture

Florence Gelo Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Figure 1. “Armand’s Pot II” (1981), Jimmy Lueders (1927 – 1994), oil on canvas, (Woodmere Art Museum: gift of Arnold Kramer, 1991 Drawn to this painting of a vase at the edge of a table, I pause and think, “Don’t we all live on the edges of life, on […]

Haunting poetic characteristics: the dissection scene from Dr. Zhivago

Timo Hannu Helsinki, Finland   Dissecting room from Edinburgh in 1889. Source: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images. Doctor Zhivago, a novel by the Russian poet Boris Pasternak, tells the story of physician-poet Yura Zhivago during the turmoil of the first decades of the twentieth century in Russia. The character of Dr. Zhivago is portrayed as […]