fostering the humanistic practice of medicine publishing personal accounts of illness and healing encouraging health care advocacy

Close this search box.

fostering the humanistic practice of medicine publishing personal accounts of illness and healing encouraging health care advocacy

Close this search box.

May 2016

Swimming With John’s Ghost

Daniel Becker

During the service, after the mensch acclamation
and before the sermon-sized metaphor
that started with a tree then lost me
a comrade from the morning shift at college–
they shared a lecture hall and the appreciation
that all sleepy students are sleepy in different ways–
quoted John bragging about having the North Grounds pool
all to himself at sunrise. Morning people brag
about their mornings. This morning the lifeguards,

proving they do pay attention to the lives they guard,
have the music tuned to oldies–Sam Cooke crooning
you-ou-ou-ou send me as Sam’s fans adjust their goggles.
John, easy to spot in that shameless bathing cap
he claims helps part the waters, takes the lane next to me.
We’re standing there praying the water isn’t as cold as it is
and waiting for one of us to acknowledge our existence.

Swimming With John’s Ghost Read More »

Peeling Wolfe



Julia Weinstein Wolfe

About the artist: 

Julia Weinstein Wolfe is an applied anthropologist specializing in aging. She is an abuse survivor and recovering alcoholic and was recently diagnosed with recurring multiple sclerosis. Originally from the East Coast, she considers herself a Minnesotan temporarily exiled among the remarkably kind and friendly people of Texas. “Taking photographs is a hobby for almost everyone in my family. As my dad would say, ‘Real life is amazing enough.’ “

About the artwork:

“As I’ve continued my journey of recovery from alcoholism, the challenge and reward has been to be more and more vulnerable–to be more open about my struggles and weaknesses. This has led to relationships that are deeper, more honest and more intimate than I’ve ever known. Sharing my fears about MS has helped me cope with those fears and allowed others in my life to share their fears with me.

“This tree is

Peeling Read More »

Coffee and Miracles

I am sipping the foam off my café latte, holding the cup with both hands because they’re shaking so much. It is early morning and very cold, even for New York, but the waiting room at Mount Sinai Hospital is warm and open to a 10-story atrium courtyard. The Starbucks on the ground floor seems to be the hub of the hospital, as, from the balcony of the waiting room, I watch doctors in scrubs, patients in wheelchairs, Hasidic Jews (identifiable by their curls) in black coats standing in a line that snakes through the lobby.

Coffee and Miracles Read More »

Chemo Brain

Rick Monteith

One weekend about nine-and-a-half years ago, I flew from Minneapolis, where I live, to Atlanta for a publishing conference. A colleague and I were to make a presentation to the vice-president of one of our major customers.

For a couple of weeks I’d been plagued by a sore throat, but I’d written it off as allergies or a virus. When I tried to begin the presentation, though, all that came out was a squeak. The VP was very sympathetic, and fortunately my colleague was able to handle the meeting.

I flew home that afternoon. The next morning, I saw my primary-care physician, who referred me to a radiologist for a CT scan that very day.

Chemo Brain Read More »

First Shower

Kristen Knott

“Do you need help getting undressed?” Jon asks from the doorway of our bedroom, one hand holding his BlackBerry, the other tucked into the front pocket of his baggy jeans. His head is slightly tilted, his eyebrows arched, highlighting his forehead wrinkles.

His phone vibrates, drawing his eyes from me to the incoming message. I wait.

Jon reads, ponders and then looks up, half-absorbed in what he’s just read, and registers that I’m still on the bed. His face lights up.

I now have his full attention.

“I think I can manage,” I say, “but I may need help with my shirt.”

First Shower Read More »

Grace JKrongard 042916 1


Judith Krongard

About the artist: 

Judith Krongard is a retired nurse and artist who studied illustration at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York City. She has illustrated several children’s books, including Doorways to Arkomo and Doorways Home. Ms. Krongard favors pencil, charcoal and pastel on paper, and creates digital works of art on her iPad. To view a partial portfolio of her work, visit

About the artwork:

“Grace” was created as part of a series of illustrations for the novel Doorways Home, which features an eleven-year-old girl with cancer. The character of Grace is based on Ms. Krongard’s granddaughter, who was diagnosed with cancer at eleven and now, nearly five years later, is in the late stages of her disease.

Visuals editor:

Justin Sanders

Grace Read More »

The Transition

As a medical student, I would show up to clinic the first day of my rotation and introduce myself to the receptionist. Standing there in the waiting room, conspicuous in my short, white coat, and referring to myself as “the new medical student,” I’d feel the patients’ gaze. The receptionist would wave me to the clinic, and I would sigh with relief.

The Transition Read More »

Body Hunger

Howard Stein

in memory of Ashley Montagu, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin (1986)

the yearning
to be touched
by hands that mean it
by hands that want to touch

the longing for hands
to release the skin
from solitary confinement
and a sentence of death

Body Hunger Read More »

Scroll to Top