Tag Archives: Vignettes at Large

“An ounce of prevention”: past and present

Jack E. Riggs Morgantown, West Virginia, United States Donald R. Newcomer Glendale, Arizona, United States   Benjamin Franklin 1706–1790. Writer, publisher, philosopher, postmaster, scientist, diplomat. The Saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is commonly attributed to Franklin. Image credit: Painting by Joseph Duplessis, circa 1785. National Portrait Gallery NPG.87.43. Via […]

Art or science, doctor or shaman?

Ihar Kazak Florida, United States    BEFORE: Centuries ago, such ailment was treated by a shaman. Image credit: A surgeon treating an injury to a man’s foot. Oil painting by a follower of David Teniers the younger. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark It all started with a scratch on my right ankle during a close […]

The sleep of doctors

Barry Meisenberg Annapolis, Maryland, United States   Los Caprichos’: The sleep of reason produces monsters (El sueño de la razon produce monstruos) 1799. Fransisco de Goya. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art  The gods who rule 2AM summon the doctor from sleep to the sequestered place where the veneer of unearned pride is bleached away. You forgot […]

My health care crisis

Yessenia Gutiérrez Miami, Florida, United States   Fistula in arm for Dialysis. Photo by Yessenia Gutierrez. “Mom, will it hurt?” These were the first words that came out of my mouth the day after my kidneys stopped working. The day after I found out that I had kidney failure and had to get a fistula in […]

A Martian treatment for dehydration

Multicolored carrots. Stephen Ausmus. USDA ARS Image Number K11611-1. Wikimedia Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   I was “rotating” through the pediatric service in an American general hospital. As a sixth-year student of a European medical school, I had been allowed to return home for my year of clinical duties before graduation. One day, during pediatric […]

The curative value of pork

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Photo of a Swedish pig farmer. Gustav Heurlin. From Allers Familj-journal. 1909. Via Wikimedia The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease. —Voltaire   My mother told me the story that when I was a few months old I developed some sort of respiratory illness. […]

A circle of hip surgery around four continents

Peter Arnold Sydney, Australia   X-ray of the hip. Photo courtesy of Peter Arnold. My story begins in Sydney in late January 1980. A businessman in his mid-fifties (Mr. C.) had been on his way to source products in the UK. As his student son was traveling in Italy, he decided to visit him by […]

The sweet smell of success

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Cropped from photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels “You shall nose him . . .” —Hamlet, Act IV, scene III   It was July 1977. After having done a rotating internship, I was starting my pediatric residency at the academic children’s hospital. My first rotation was in the outpatient clinic, […]

Rural home visit 1973

Paul Rousseau Charleston, South Carolina, United States   The road frozen and snowflakes fluttering, I travel to a distant farmhouse—the sick in bed on her side, hair in sweat-wet crescents and vomitus on the sheets, the husband wailing, “She’s dying, she’s dying,” and a dog and three toddlers lapping milk from the linoleum—and as I […]

Why do physicians write so badly?

Peter Arnold Sydney, Australia   Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels An old joke is that pharmacists are the only people who can read physicians’ handwriting. This piece is not about handwriting, but about writing style. Compared with great medical authors, like Somerset Maugham, Conan Doyle, Anton Chekhov, John Keats, and Friedrich von Schiller, most […]