Grace Zhang is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Queen's University
[For my Grandmother]
we don’t talk much these days
(which is mostly my fault, I know)
but if we were on the phone
I’d tell you how
when we sat in lecture learning about ...continue reading
Sarah Chauvin is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Toronto
Collateral. Collateral. Collateral. Three weeks in a psychiatric Emergency Department, and I have more than a mere appreciation for collateral: I’ve come to understand it as a key diagnostic investigation.
Toward the end of my weekend call shift, my young patient with severe alcohol use disorder and borderline personality disorder — who had been discharged the week prior with an addictions referral — was back in the ED for alcohol intoxication. Though I had been cautioned that the patient would likely return, I was disappointed to see her name back on the patient-tracking list. ...continue reading
Jonathan Oore is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Dalhousie University
Symmetry is integral to life on earth. So too is asymmetry. The human body’s organization contains basic pairs of coexisting structures: ears, lungs, lips, spinal nerves, testes, kidneys, eyes, nostrils, chromosomes, muscles, legs, cerebral hemispheres and eyebrows. Sometimes they are only theoretically symmetric. They can be practically sick… or not really. They’re reflections. But not entirely. ...continue reading
Avina De Simone is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at McGill University
I wish I would have known what it feels like to walk in your shoes.
I wish I would have known what it feels like live in your country.
I wish I would have known what it feels like to want to end my life.
I wish I would have known how to help you.
I had many doubts throughout my clerkship journey. I always wondered if I was truly helping others, or if my efforts would ever improve my patients’ quality of life. ...continue reading
Prasham Dave is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Ottawa
Sunken eyes my burden and a blazing smile my shield,
My patient burned under baleful fluorescence—purified en blanc.
My breaths were shallow. His shallower still.
I was haggard and he was in shambles,
I was shuffling and he was frozen,
I was ash and he was a husk. ...continue reading
Ally Fleming is a writer and publicist at Anstruther Press
Illness doesn’t end when you leave the doctor’s office. Affliction is carried, and pain is, as Shane Neilson writes, “a concerto in your back pocket.” As a writer with bipolar disorder and chronic pain, I’ve often felt utterly lost, blinded by what Rita Charon calls the “glare of sickness” . For many, the fundamental question of medicine is not how to be fixed (for it’s often not possible), but how to live one’s life, broken. Physician and pain researcher Shane Neilson’s trilogy of poetry collections from Porcupine’s Quill leads by example.
“Practitioners, be they health care professionals to begin with or not, must be prepared to offer the self as a therapeutic instrument," (p. 215) writes Charon in Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness. Neilson, with one foot perpetually planted in medical practice and the other in love, unflinchingly offers himself to his readers ...continue reading
Barbara Sibbald, News and Humanities editor for the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reads the CMAJ Humanities Encounters article "Cathartic narratives for chaotic thinking" (subscription required). The article is written by Dr. Richard Hovey, associate professor in the Division of Oral Health and Society with the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill University.
In the article, Dr. Hovey speaks from personal experience about life with severe chronic pain.
Listen to the article reading:
Stuart Kinmond reads the CMAJ Humanities Encounters article "He was a boy with a name". The article is written by Dr. Nicholas Batley, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the American University of Beirut Medical Centre in Lebanon.
The article tells the true story of Dr. Batley’s encounter with a young Syrian refugee on the streets of Beirut. The patient’s name and personal details have been changed to protect his identity.
Full article (subscription required): www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.160530
University of Toronto
Class of 2016
On the first day of my Social Paediatrics elective, I accompanied a nurse on a visit to a family shelter. I entered the single room and noticed a healthy newborn girl, sleeping peacefully in an old crib. The room consisted of a bed, a table, two chairs, a fridge, and a microwave. There was no stove, no kitchen sink. Clothes, toiletries, dishes and bottles were strewn everywhere. The floor was dirty and there was graffiti on the wall. One of the parents was present, but the other was out looking for work. It was my first time in a shelter, and I was stunned that a family with a newborn was living in such conditions.
University of Toronto
Class of 2019
His voice is warm and soft, each sentence running into the next, broken up only by gravelly laughter and the occasional cough. The honey that coats his voice obscures his jarring story, the suffering hidden beneath the evenness of his tone. He tells me about his injury, rating his pain on a scale of one to ten, and describes its quality and radiation. I ask him for his previous medical diagnoses and he pauses briefly. ...continue reading