In defense of humoralism

Steve Server // “When you get stressed, all the blood comes out,” she explained. This was one of the explanations I heard from a patient in the OBGYN clinic regarding her ongoing vaginal bleeding, which was likely due to cervical cancer.  She told me that she had been eating flour mixed with water on days…

The Empathy Exams Revisited

Sara Press // On Saturday, May 5th, 2018, I went in to the BC Children’s Hospital to see a doctor about a lump in my neck. It might seem strange that a twenty-seven-year-old was going to a Children’s Hospital. Perhaps even stranger that I was seen by fifteen medical residents that day, and had to…

Gatekeepers who guard and unlock

Sasheenie Moodley // Some argue that ethnographic data collection, during fieldwork, sounds as easy as “picking apples from a tree” (Polkinghorne, 2005:141). In other words, research information regarding participants’ life experiences is ripe and ready for the taking. Yet this is not always the case. Seeking understanding in work with vulnerable participants is less about…

Write/Right About Your Body

Madeleine Mant // I teach Introduction to the Anthropology of Health to an exquisitely diverse group of second-year undergraduate students. The class is a gateway prerequisite to all upper-level health-stream courses, thus it necessitates a balance between the biological and sociocultural aspects of health anthropology. Students are exposed to the work of Gregor Mendel and…

Against Medical Humanities?

Travis Chi Wing Lau // As I have wrestled with in both my review of Sari Altschuler’s The Medical Imagination and in my essays about interdisciplinarity and disciplinary difference, I remain deeply interested in the question of methodology and how we define our fields of study. Like the concept of genre, a field sets expectations:…

Reading Neurotica: Or, the Caregiver and Her Heartache

Lauren A. Mitchell //      I am helping a group of medical students learn how to take a comprehensive sexual history with a colleague, inspired by the interview template that Fenway Health in Boston uses.  This interview model expands on the usual “5 Ps of Sexual History Taking” (Pregnancy, Practices, Partners, Past History of…

Light and Shadows: On Care and Loss

Sarah Roth // My mother and I divide up her Hospice bags: two nondescript fanny packs holding morphine, liquids, and nutrition. Artifacts of the land of the critically ill, they are contraband here in the clinic.

SAVEAHAART

Steve Server // The residents of the Cardio-Thoracic Intensive Care Unit (CT/ICU) work in a cluttered, white box.  The walls are bare, blindingly white, except for the decorations which hung for a few days celebrating some unknown individual’s retirement.  None of us had any idea who would soon leave “The Unit,” but as soon as…

From Words to Breath – Connecting Through Poetry

Bríd Phillips // Communicating with a terminally ill friend can often feel daunting and full of fear and anxiety. What will we talk about? Will I say the wrong thing? Or is there actually anything left to say as you both stare into the void? Recently, I had this experience when a work colleague developed…

On gratitude, ethnography, & care

Michelle Munyikwa // “Oh, you work with refugees. That’s so wonderful. They must be so grateful!” For several years, I’ve been working with refugees and asylum seekers as part of my dual training as a physician and anthropologist. While there have been many instructive and interesting moments that have taken place within this work, I’d like…