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 …

Too, too plain was Signor Gonorrhoea

I this day began to feel unaccountable alarm of unexpected evil: a little heat in the members of my body sacred to Cupid, very like a symptom of that distemper with which Venus, when cross, takes it into her head to plague her votaries. But then I have no risks. I have been with no Read More …

The secret in the throat

The use of force. William Carlos Williams.  The child was fairly eating me up with her cold, steady eyes and no expression to her face whatever.  But her face was flushed, she was breathing rapidly, and I realized that she had a high fever. She had magnificent blonde hair, in profusion. One of those picture Read More …

Dance pseudomacabre

William Carlos Williams.  The baby is in a smother of sheets and crumpled blankets. Its left eye closed, its right partly opened. It emits a soft whining cry continuously at every breath. It can’t be more than a few weeks old. Will it live? It is the mother: a great tender-eyed blonde. Great full breasts. Read More …

A Fortunate Man

The fortunate man here is the doctor. Sassall meets anguished patients on his rounds – the close relatives of the dying, those who are ill and want to die, the immobilized who are made desperate by a kind of claustrophobic fear of their own bodies, the insanely jealous, the lonely who try to kill themselves, 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 …

Death from the other side of the bed

Ian Rankin. I don’t really blame people for shunning the dying. I try to do it myself, not physically but mentally by painting other pictures in my head. My mother has perhaps less than a week to live. If what she’s doing now is living. Not living, just there. At least I can go to Read More …