The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
“The sooner we start talking about death, the better.”
Have your taken Death Ed?
In this lucid Op-Ed piece, Dr. Jessica Nitter makes a compelling case for a new compulsory course for high school students. It is well worth reading.
"Many of us would choose to die in a planned, comfortable way, surrounded by those we love. But you can’t plan for a good death if you don’t know you’re dying. When patients are prepared, they die better.
I believe it is past time for us to educate [our patients] about death, an equally important stage of life, and one for which the consequences of poor preparedness are bad.
I propose that we teach Death Ed in all of our high schools. I see this curriculum as a civic responsibility."
Lagniappe: “Go Wish,” a card game designed to ease families into these difficult conversations in an entertaining way.
and Extremis (2016, Netflix Documentary, 24 minutes)
Setsuko Winchester is a Japanese-American potter who threw 120 yellow bowls to commemorate Japanese interned by the U.S. during World War II. The story is timely, since a similar spirit of xenophobia is gripping our country in the first few weeks of the Trump (dis)administration.
Each yellow bowl stands for 1000 Japanese interned. She explains her motivation in a three minute video. An in-depth article about Setsuko's yellow bowls appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on February 12, 2017. "Ceramics are part of your blood when you are Japanese," S. Winchester
Yellow tea bowls at the Poston War Relocation Center, located in Yuma County of southwestern Arizona. photo by Setsuko Winchester
Comment by Joan Shaw, Educator, Kalaheo, Hawaii: "This project is a poignant reminder of how easily and inappropriately groups of people can be maligned by the ignorance of others. When you look at the contributions of Japanese Americans over the years, it's hard to understand that they were once regarded as dangerous spies and traitors - to the point of being rounded up and interned. This is happening now with groups from other parts of the world. An excellent novel: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford."
Hans Rosling, a Swedish physician became a pop-star statistician by converting dry numbers into dynamic graphics that challenged preconceptions about global health and gloomy prospects for population growth. He died on February 7th at 68 of pancreatic cancer.
The topic of Global Health and Social Determinants of Health has interested us greatly. It is covered in detail in Michael Marmot’s dense book, The Health Gap (that few will wade into). Rosling’s work makes this information palatable and easily understandable.
Rosling, his wife and daughter founded Gapminder, an independent Swedish foundation with no political, religious or economic affiliations in 2007. Gapminder is a fact tank, not a think tank. It fights devastating misconceptions about global development.
Last summer, a friend and I made pilgrimage to the home and birthplace of Emily Dickinson in Amherst, Massachusetts. Our guide was an enthusiastic young woman, a college English major and a future scholar.
A recent exhibit, at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, would be a great place to begin with Emily if you live nearby or plan to visit the City.
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
In 1990 Jacek Mostwin, a young surgeon working in a large university hospital, began to sense there was a deeper, more timeless, meaning to his work and the lives of his patients. There was a spiritual dimension to medicine and he needed to be closer to it. He began to follow some of his patients to the shrine at Lourdes in France.
Dr. Mostwin has been traveling to Lourdes with the Order of Malta as a volunteer physician and has returned 17 times since his first pilgrimage in 1992. In 2004, he completed a film, Engaging the Spiritual Dimension: A Doctor’s Tale It is his attempt to show the human side of this experience, his own, and that of others, engaging the spiritual dimension. The mystery of Lourdes is timeless. It has given rise to many stories. This is one story, a doctor’s tale.
Marion Pritchard, a gentile whose shock at watching Nazi soldiers storm a home for Jewish children in Amsterdam and load them into a truck for deportation inspired her to enter a clandestine world of rescuing Jews, died on Dec. 11, 2016 at her home in Washington, DC. She was 96.
Please read her moving NY Times obituary. It's inspiring to be reminded of true heroism. This woman's brave and quiet work is a candle in the dark.
Our colleague, Dr. Rakesh Biswas from Bhopal, India, forwarded us a link to a memorable essay in the current issue of The Lancet. Thank you, Rakesh!
(from the Lancet’s comments on this essay) “We share the same space, but not the same time”, writes Naaheed Mukadam about a patient with dementia in her essay “Stay with me”. The essay, which won the Lancet’s 2016 Wakley Prize, examines the way dementia disrupts life not only for the patient but also for the family and carers.
To say more would spoil the impact of this sensitive, articulate and important article. It well-deserves the prestigious Wakely Prize. Your time to read or listen to it will be well-spent!
Following the death of an elderly friend and neighbor, Cell 2 Soul author, Marla Lukofsky, reflects on being single, living alone, aging, friendship, and how to protect what matters at the end of life.
In her narrative, posted in the Online Journal of Community and Patient-Centered Dermatology, Marla examines new feelings and relevant issues following the death of her long-time friend and neighbor, Enid. Marla reflects upon the ever increasing single, aging population, living alone, and how that may affect their fate in life and in death no matter what preparations have been made.
Marla also questions the current trend to treat this special group as either disposable or invisible instead of appreciating them for the rich human resource they are.
You are invited to follow Marla through her friend’s funeral and view what was left behind. She asks, “Are we any different than that older person we pass by so quickly and dismissively? I am she, she is me. We are they. It’s only a matter of time.”