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.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (born 1977) is a Nigerian writer. She is Igbo. She has been called "the
most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young
anglophone authors that is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers
to African literature".
Her Ted Talk about the importance of stories is powerfully
compelling and humbling.
The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with
stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They
make one story become the only story.
If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about
Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of
beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals and incomprehensible people, fighting
senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and
waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner.
Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used
to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to
humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also
repair that broken dignity.
Show a people as one thing — as only one thing — over and
over again, and that is what they become.
Daryl Potyk, a physician in the state of Washington, shares a cautinary tale with us. His essay, "In Search of the Story," is important for patients and care-givers alike. As physicians get busier, as care gets more fragmented between primary care doctors, PAs, NPs, hospitalists, ER docs, specialists and sub-specialists, the person as patient often becomes an invisable man. Dr. Potyk's insight is essential.
"How could we have been taking care of Mr. Jones for as long as we had without knowing him? We knew his blood counts, we knew about his kidneys and his liver, we had stuck needles into his abdomen to obtain fluid samples; we knew a lot about him. We focused on his medical problems, treated him, took care of him, all without ever knowing him." Download Potyk In Search of the Story
Author Bio: Daryl Potyk, a board certified in Iinternist and geriatrician, has been teaching at the Internal Medicine Residency in Spokane, WA since 1994. He lives in Spokane, WA with his wife and three children. Email: DKP.
Lisa O'Brien, of Williamstown, alerted us to an NPR piece which reports on how getting people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia to tell stories can be therapeutic.
"Storytelling is one of the most ancient forms of communication — it's how we learn about the world. It turns out that for people with dementia, storytelling can be therapeutic. It gives people who don't communicate well a chance to communicate. And you don't need any training to run a session."
Betty Z. was 21 in 1937 when she started working at her Uncle's mecial office in the Bronx. Herein, she relates some memories.
Pelham Pkwy Station
In 1937, when I was 21, I took a job in my uncle's office. Jack Levine was a G.P. in the Bronx. I was taking a night course to become a medical technician at the Mandl School in Manhattan and worked during the day. The office occupied the first floor of my grandmother's house. The Pelham Parkway elevated subway station was on the corner. For more Download Betty 1937
Betty and the Young Doctor, Circa 1941
Betty Z. today
"Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ We are not now that strength which in old days Mov’d earth and heaven, that which we are, we are: One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will..." Tennyson's Ulysses
Author Bio: Betty Z. lives six miles from the Pelham Parkway station. She has had a life full of many adventures. At 95, this is her first publication. It’s never too late to pen one’s recollections. We hope to receive more of her wisdom.
Tamar Hoffmann, a holistic internist in Honolulu, Hawaii graces us with the story of her family's escape from Nazi Germany. It is a moving tale of an ordinary family in extraordinary times.
"My father was was born in December 1921, the first son of a young orthodox Jewish couple in Kassel, Germany. He had a blissful childhood, living with his parents, two younger siblings and paternal grandparents in a spacious apartment on Train Station Street (Bahnhoff Strasse).
The kids went to a Hebrew school. My great-grandfather taught them Hebrew even before they started school so they could read and recite the prayers. After school they studied and played music, which had a very important role in their lives..." You will find Tamar's story captivating and moving: Download My Father's Story
He had come back east at the beginning of the month to see his family for the holidays. It was the first Christmas without his grandfather. The young man had lost his job—got laid off—and left his car at his apartment in Utah. “Go back,” his landlady had told him. “Go back east and figure things out.” more»
Brian T. Maurer has practiced pediatrics as a Physician Assistant for thirty years. His "Marginal Notes" column appears periodically in the Cell2Soul Blog. The title "Marginal Notes" is taken from a quote by Henry David Thoreau: "I love a broad margin to my life."
A few months ago, Len Hoenig, a Florida internist, sent us an essay which resonated with the "holiday season," this dark time when, in the Northern Hemisphere, the light returns as does (for some) hope... Take it, Len!
"In this Holiday Season we pray for peace on earth and goodwill unto all mankind. It is my hope that the “special day” described in my essay will come to pass."
"My alarm clock rang. It was 7 a.m. It had been a restful night. I was surprised the hospital had not called, considering that my last admission was quite ill. He was an elderly man from a nursing home who was admitted at midnight, in septic shock from a urinary tract infection. I called the ICU and was pleased to learn that the patient had stabilized and was off life support. Read on...Download A special day
It was parents' weekend at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, and I was sitting at the bar of Isabella's, my favorite restaurant, in nearby North Adams, nursing my usual club soda. The place was jammed, with perhaps a dozen or more people waiting for tables. A woman and her three companions came in. I can't remember two of that party; but I remember sharply the entrance of this youngish middle-aged, handsome, African-American woman and her daughter... to read more see Download WELL MET
Note: Albertson, "alone and palely loitering" in the Berkshires, describes this chance meeting in poignant detail. You will enjoy reading more. He can be reached at PA:Email.