Medication as a protective shield

I began collecting the used packets on the second anniversary of my transplant, as a reminder of how fragile our grasp on life is. Without my medication I cannot survive, and so it acts as a ‘protective shield’ … Extracts from Brian Keeley’s website (2016). Commentary The Artist Brian Keeley required a heart transplant following Read More …

Words as a surgeon’s tool

When a patient comes in with a fatal head bleed, that first conversation with a neurosurgeon may forever color how the family remembers the death, from a peaceful letting go (“Maybe it was his time”) to an open sore of regret (“Those doctors didn’t listen! They didn’t even try to save him!”) When there’s no place for Read More …

Nise: The Heart of Madness

Nise: The Heart of Madness (Portuguese- Nise: O Coração da Loucura)  Commentary Nise da Silveira was born in Brazil in 1905. She was a lot of things – the only female student of her graduating class in medical school, a student of Carl Jung and a pioneer of occupational therapy in Psychiatry. In this film, Nise: Read More …

Deplorable consequences

The chief danger lies in the possibility of a spontaneous rupture of the uterus… Spon-tan-e-ous… If in introducing his hand into the uterus the obstetrician encounters any hindrances to penetrating to the foot, whether from lack of space or as a result of a contraction of the uterine wall, he should refrain from further attempts Read More …

A change of heart

A doctor’s visit, Anton Chekhov (1898) ‘I have palpitations of the heart’ she said, ‘It was so awful all night….I almost died of fright! Do give me something.’ ‘I will, I will; don’t worry yourself.’ Korolyov examined her and shrugged his shoulders. ‘The heart is all right’, he said; ‘it’s all going on satisfactorily; everything Read More …

Laughs ironic, Byronic, and sardonic

27th May 1892 Three incidents have made me laugh to-day: the laugh ironic, the laugh Byronic, and the laugh sardonic! Firstly, on visiting an elderly patient who has suffered acutely for many years from a form of tic douloureux, I found her overjoyed at the wonderfully beneficial effects of some pills which I had prescribed. Read More …

In this room I had pronounced patients dead

When breath becomes air. It was my primary care doctor, calling with the chest X-ray result: my lungs, instead of being clear, looked blurry, as if the camera aperture had been left open too long. The doctor said she wasn’t sure what that meant. She likely knew what it meant. I knew. Lucy picked me Read More …