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.
Zoe Elpern took a motorcycle ride in the high Rockies above Aspen, Colorado on Saturday, September 21, 2013. She sent us a few pictures taken on her iPhone. The last picture was taken in late April, 2013. These photos reminded us of a memorable poem:
Binsey Poplars: felled 1879 by Gerard Manley Hopkins for pdf: Download Aspens
My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled, Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun, All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank Not
spared, not one That dandled a sandalled Shadow that
swam or sank On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
O if we but knew what we do When we delve or
hew-- Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender To touch, her being só slender, That, like this sleek and seeing ball But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean To mend her
we end her, When we hew or
delve: After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve Strokes of havoc
únselve The sweet
especial scene, Rural scene, a
rural scene, Sweet especial
Note: Because of formating concerns, this poem is better viewed as a pdf:
Download My Child
The jaws of silver monsters
found you, disemboweled you, ferocious
forceps leaving your tiny chest eviscerated;
mutilated your precious head, and maybe brain
asunder, you wonder why you were squandered.
Curetted craters of flesh reveal unknown thoughts
blackening, festering in quiescent blood, lost postmen with
nowhere to deliver. I quiver as I purse my lips and
blow a gentle wind to fill your nose. And though
your breaths are still, I still want you to feel
how tender air can be as she caresses the
recesses of your empty throat with a gentle tickle.
But life, like the wind, is fickle. Yet somehow
still, we will take a million more breaths.
And this, this is what breathing feels like, my
In my hands, I envelop
your disembodied arms, skeletal and torn. I try my best to caress
what’s left of your flesh so you know how warmth lingers
after fingers have touched you, and not how silver,
slivered serpents have rent you. I don’t know why I try
to put you back together, you’re not a Barbie to
be fixed. This isn’t playtime, there are no fixes for
the existence I’ve nixed. Into your hips, I dumbly
bump the stumps of your legs as I shift
them, animate them, giving them motion,
locomotion with my imagination, granting them a shade of
life. But I’m not a god and God knows the days
and days have pained me. Yet somehow still, we will
ourselves forward to take a million more steps.
And this, this is what walking feels like, my child.
As I hold your head
close to mine, my tears fall to places in the spaces above your
face, where they trace out rivulets of silent cries
and sighs onto eternally lidded eyes. I imagine
you cooing, sincere with cheer with a voice that the world
will never hear -- an unfinished melody, a song that I
penned, but ended before the impending chorus. Crimson drops
fall into my lap, from living rivers no longer coursing. My
coarse hands rutilant, ruefully stained by your darkened Spring. I
bring you closer, our foreheads nearly touching. And I touch my
lips to your lips so you’ll know how I wish I could kiss you ‘good
night’ every night. But Life is full of heights and bottomless
dips for it knows no scripts, and now you know that living hurts. Yet
somehow still, we will keep trying a million more times.
And this, this is what love feels like, my
Author’s Note: Dilation & Evacuation (D&E) refers to
a specific second trimester abortive procedure. The fetus is first terminated
with a lethal injection. Instruments such as forceps, vacuums, and curettes are
then used to remove the fetus from the uterus. Since the baby may be too large
to remove through the cervix, forcible dismemberment of the body is sometimes
necessary. This poem is inspired by a true mother’s story, but remains a piece
of poetic fiction.
Author Bio: Phil Delrosario is a senior in Human Biology
with a concentration in Psychological Development in Children and Adolescents
at Stanford University in California. He
enjoys writing, making short films, and playing his violin/piano/ukulele and is
a protégé of Professor Larry Zaroff.
Phil can be reached at pdelATstanford.edu.
is like theater, there is a lot of behind the scenes production before you
enter the stage of the patient room.
I think we should have popcorn all the time at the office, because it is like a
movie with an often challenging array of characters. Most of the time I work
inside a creative movie I can step into and change the plot and action, and the
good guys generally win. Bit players come and go, performances light up the
exam rooms, speeches and quips rivaling Shakespeare at times erupt, and the
potential for drama is always at hand. Problems are handled with equanimity,
and like a good plane flight, we get through any turbulence and land safely at
the end of the day.
Rob Norman (Dermatologist, Tampa, Florida)
A fine essay by David Watts appeared in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Unfortunately, it is not available free to the public. It begins with this paragraph.
image from migraine-livinginpain.blogspot.com/
"Rumor has it that the medical profession suffers from too many cold and
distant doctors. Studies have attempted to subject this notion to the
scrutiny of science,
and although we could argue over their degree of success, we know it's
true. We need only ask our patients in order to be regaled with stories
confirming the accusation. Cold. Yet we didn't start out that way."
Some of you will have access to NEJM, but those who don't can contact Dr. Watts for a copy. Congratulations, Dr Watts! This is an article that all of us will mull over and benefit from reading.
Cure for the Common Cold David Watts New England Journal of Medicine, September 27, 2012, p. 1184-85
"Do you know what the difference is between an overachiever and a corpse? What the former calls his résumé, the latter recognizes as an obituary.
An overachiever believes that if he or she only looks hard enough, seeks diligently enough, reflects long enough, and suffers enough, that happiness and success will eventually come. The Overachievers Simple Guide is for those of us who have come to recognize the fallacy of this belief, and wonder, what now?
"This 25 page booklet is about everything else there is in life, aside from awesomeness and achievement. It is for the overachiever who knows some really awesome people, and exactly for that reason, doesn’t want to be them. OASG is not going to tell you anything you don’t already know. It is only going to tell you what you already know but haven’t yet heard. It is not meant for the fearless daredevil, those unique individuals who don't care if they die young or old, alone or among loved ones."
O.A. Chiever, an old friend, sent me a link to his book which is now available free or for 99 cents at the Kindle Store. He wrote: "For fun, I have put together a few short essays into a 25 page ebook, which I've self-published and is now available on Amazon for Kindle. (If you don't have one, you can always read it online, or on your ipad/iphone)."
For those of you who are interested, it's an amazing read. Takes ~ one hour. Get OSGSL If you want to read it, but dont have a Kindle, iPhone or iPad, write me and I'll see if Dr. Chiever can send you a copy.
"The Kaddish is a prayer that is recited at every Jewish service to honor the memory of those who died. I was curious about what it would mean to 'Be the Kaddish.' I wondered: How does a person become a prayer?"
Illustrator, author and designer Maira Kalman has a new column iI the NY Times called "And the Pursuit of Happiness." It deals with American democracy, will appear on the last Friday of each month. Here's a sample:
Your time spent with this amazing column will be mind-expanding and rewarding!
by Nicholas Davies. British Medical Journal, 1989:299;1209-1210
If there is nothing to read in heaven, I am not sure I want to go. Aristides (Joseph Epstein)
As summer approaches in these northern climes, one looks forward to an annual holiday at the beach or in the woods. For some, "too long in cities pent" it will be an opportunity to spend time with great literature. In 1989, Nicholas Davies published a memorable essay on this subject in the British Medical Journal. Since it can be hard to access, we have attached a pdf here: Download Reading Binges 1
You will enjoy this piece. Perhaps is will help you to crystallize a reading program for your upcoming summer's continuous education.
Reading Binges is all the more poignant since Davies died in a plane crash not long after the piece was published.
This four minute video addresses the essence Soul. Parker Palmer, a highly respected writer, teacher and activist, likens Soul to a wild animal -- shy, free, living independently in the wilderness. If you have 4 quiet minutes, this will be a treat.
I learned about this from the Maine DartmouthFamily Medicine Blog.
On Krishna's birthday last Sunday (Janamashtami in India) we found this arresting colour change in a hibiscus in our garden.
It is even more interesting because after that, the plant has again resumed its daily production of pure white flowers.
Until this colour change happens once again, perhaps on the same day or another special occasion, I shall just call this an interesting coincidence and will not attach any religious significance to it.
Rakesh Biswas Bhopal, India
[One never knows. The gods work in strange ways. The Editor]