Whose Body Is It, Anyway? (From “Complications” by Atul Gawande)

The first time I saw the patient it was the day before his surgery, I thought he might be dead. Joseph Lazaroff, as I'll call him, lay in bed, his eyes closed, a sheet pulled up over his thin, birdlike chest. When people are asleep—or even when they are anesthetized and not breathing by themselves—it … Continue reading Whose Body Is It, Anyway? (From “Complications” by Atul Gawande)

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The Computer and the Hernia Factory

Excerpt from Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande Download PDF One summer day in 1996, Hans Ohlin, the fifty-year-old chief of coronary care at the University of Lund Hospital in Sweden, sat down in his office with a stack of two thousand two hundred and forty electrocardiograms. Each test result … Continue reading The Computer and the Hernia Factory

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Excerpt, Ch. 3 by Anne Fadiman Download PDF When Lisa was about three months old, her older sister Yer slammed the front door of the Lees' apartment. A few moments later, Lia's eyes rolled up, her arms jerked over her head, and she fainted. The Lees had little doubt what had happened. Despite the careful installation … Continue reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Mr. Delfour’s Other File (Soren A. Gauger)

The two men walked smoothly, effortlessly even, down the shimmering two-tone corridor, painted chlorine blue and surgical-glove white. One of the men, the one who was markedly taller, walked down the corridor with his hands folded behind his back, in the manner of an intellectual. His eyes won adjectives like "piercing" and "penetrating" from his … Continue reading Mr. Delfour’s Other File (Soren A. Gauger)

Chapter 5: M & M (Pauline Chen)

If you poke a hole from the belly into the diaphragm and with your fingers, clear away the cobweblike tissues that separate the heart from the spine, there will be just enough space back there to fit your entire arm. And if you put a small incision along the base of the neck, as you … Continue reading Chapter 5: M & M (Pauline Chen)

Myself Healed (Richard Selzer)

I would make my own diagnosis. Without the aid of―no, in very spite of those miscreant doctors, stupid men who warm their arrogant fingers in the orifices of their unwary patients. Who knows what perverse, bestial thoughts oil about in their mean brains? And, ah, their eyes, cynical and professionally glum, that fend off good … Continue reading Myself Healed (Richard Selzer)

Opium: The Diary of a Cure (Jean Cocteau)

To begin with, I could not have been thoroughly cured the first time. Many courageous drug addicts do not know the pitfalls of being cured, they content merely to give up and emerge ravaged by a useless ordeal, cells weakened and further prevented from regaining their vitality through alcohol and sport. Incredible phenomena are attached … Continue reading Opium: The Diary of a Cure (Jean Cocteau)

Chapter 2: Banting’s Idea (Michael Bliss)

Frederick Grant Banting, always called Fred, was born on a farm near the small town of Alliston, Ontario, on November 14, 1891.He was of British descent, his grandfather having emigrated to Canada about forty years earlier.* His parents, Margaret Grant and William Banting, were hard-working farm people, devout Methodists, and reasonably prosperous, sober citizens. The … Continue reading Chapter 2: Banting’s Idea (Michael Bliss)

Making it Literal (Susan Sontag)

Immunologists took over a language saturated with military terms from germ theory in the 1960s. Now that these metaphors have been naturalized, their figurative origins go largely undetected. But as Susan Sontag shows, in her book Illness and its Metaphors, allow metaphors their head and we end up in a city fll1der siege, with permanent … Continue reading Making it Literal (Susan Sontag)

The Plague (Albert Camus)

Background: ALBERT CAMUS (1913-1960), French novelist, journalist, and playwright, has been identified with the Existentialist movement but steadfastly denied any affinity with that philosophy. He had a profound effect not just on French literature but on social philosophy. His observations on bubonic plague were drawn at first hand while he lived in Algiers. During the … Continue reading The Plague (Albert Camus)

Chapter 21: The Development of the Medical Student

Chapter 21: The Development of the Medical Student Howard S. Becker et al. in Boys in White: Student Culture in Medical School (2002) We began our study with a concern about what happens to medical students as they move through medical school. This concern receded as we became more and more preoccupied with what went … Continue reading Chapter 21: The Development of the Medical Student