Robert Browning’s “An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, the Arab Physician” is another fine example of dramatic monologue in which the character speaking reveals things about himself he is unaware of, but through the irony of self-disclosure, the reader readily sees.
If medicine is about the alleviation of suffering and the postponement of death, is not all of our work ultimately futile? In a society that idolizes success and hides the dying and dead away from full view, what message can physicians give?
The stories are heartbreaking, but they are also the substantive content I am seeking. I am collecting stories of pain and injustice. Of course the overriding hope is that these stories can bring about positive change. Yet the fact remains that injustice is a building block of my research project.
It was stunning news. I listened with disbelief as my colleague described how a patient of ours, in whom we had uncovered a host of serious diseases over a few years, was now newly diagnosed with cancer after an incidental scan.
He was a young man, and I could see fear in his eyes as he gripped the railings of the bed and struggled to breathe, sucking in heavily through the plastic mask feeding him oxygen. His body was wasting away from cancer, and the infections that had crept into his lungs were now forcing every […]