Tag Archives: Vignettes at Large

J. Marion Sims and the reputation-character distinction

Jack E. Riggs Matthew S. Smith Morgantown, West Virginia, United States   J. Marion Sims (1813-1883) Sims’ reputation during his life garnished national and international awards and recognition. Image via Wikimedia. Public domain. “Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” — Thomas Paine (likely […]

Addiction a century ago

“Addiction, mainly in the upper classes, was viewed with sympathy. It was not a criminal offense to buy or sell morphine. Freud for a time prescribed cocaine to some of his excitable patients, and we know that Sherlock Holmes, when he was bored, injected himself with a 7% solution. Soon after their accession, the tzar […]

It could be bad

Paul Rousseau Charleston, South Carolina, United States Photo by Jira on Rawpixel.   The doctor poked and probed and prodded and pinched and rubbed his chin and clicked his pen and rose from his stool and breathed a groan, “Something is wrong, and it could be bad, is plausibly bad, is certainly bad, but not cancer […]

Spoilsports

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   A lonely couple. Photo by author. The weekly grand rounds was the central educational event at the big teaching hospital. Everybody who could get away from clinical duties, regardless of specialty, attended the Tuesday lunchtime event at which we aspired to present our interesting or puzzling patients, or earn brownie […]

Tashima syndrome

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Let us now praise famous men.” — Ecclesiasticus 44:1   Research at the NIAMS Cartilage Biology and Orthopaedics Branch. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, September 6, 2012. NIH Image Gallery on Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0. It has been a tradition in medicine […]

An avalanche of white tissues

Gail Ghai Sarasota, Florida, United States   Avalanche by Robert Qualters. Mixed media painting and drawing, 2022. Courtesy of artist. He gives me a golden pearl to vanquish the sputtering sputum cough. A red tablet to quell the scarlet flushing, and an ivory capsule to squash the bronchial terrorists that have invaded the walls of […]

Hieroglyphics

Gail Ghai Sarasota, Florida, United States Wooden Egyptian stela showing the woman Isetweret adoring the god Re-Horakhty, 945–712 AD. Distribution from the Egyptian Research Account, 1896. Courtesy of the Penn Museum.   The room shuffles nervously as the oncologist takes the microphone. He’s the first speaker at the breast cancer lecture and he does not […]

Vigil

Terri Erickson Pfafftown, North Carolina, United States Untitled painting by Stephen White. Used with permission.   In a care home in Göteborg, Sweden, my husband’s sister, Jensina, sits vigil at the bedside of their Aunt Astrid, who is dying. She holds her hand, speaks to her as if everything is as it was, the two […]

Two words in the patient portal

Paul Rousseau Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, United States   Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels He lost twenty pounds from January to June. Not purposely. Still, he was pleased; at seventy-nine, he looked svelte, and younger. He lost another twelve pounds from July to December. His lips grimaced. He was a stick figure, his bones […]

Discrimination: From Blues to Amazing Grace to sleeves

Lauren E. Hill Walnut Cove, North Carolina, United States Jack E. Riggs Morgantown, West Virginia, United States   Combat support hospital sailors wearing sleeves down (Army way). Three-star admiral (far right) wearing sleeves up (Navy way). Author (far left), hospital commanding officer. In a “sleeves down” world, life may be easier blending in. “Collective fear […]