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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

H. Lee Kagan

My longtime patient Brenda let the top of her exam gown drop to her waist, stepped down off the exam table and turned to look at herself in the mirror. As I watched, she cupped her seventy-eight-year-old breasts in her palms and unceremoniously hoisted them up to where they’d probably resided when she was in her twenties.

“I’m thinking about having my boobs done,” she said. “My girlfriend had hers

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Taboo

Ralph B. Freidin

Every fall, medical schools welcome nearly 20,000 college graduates. They arrive anticipating endless hours of lectures, too much coffee, and infinite facts to memorize. There is one thing they do not expect, however. I know. Forty-nine years ago, I was one of them.

The first day I walked onto the wards was in spring of 1967. I was in St. Louis, doing my second year of medical school. Previously my

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Imagine

Linda Koebner 

“Her vitals are fine,” the nurse told Besarta’s mother during a rare visit to the family’s basement apartment in the Bronx.

Besarta’s mind is also fine–sharp and clear. She asked me to use her real name in this story.

Her twenty-five-year-old face is beautiful and flawless, despite the howls of frustration, rage and pain she directs at her family, at fate and especially at Friedreich’s ataxia, the disease that controls her.

When I

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The Silent Treatment

Frances Smalkowski

Last year, while enjoying a two-week tour of the cultural capitals of China, I was amazed by how at home I felt. Searching my memory for the reasons behind this unexpected state of mind, I suddenly remembered Mr. Loy.

We met more than forty years ago. I was in my third year as a nursing student, doing a semester-long rotation in a large psychiatric hospital. Each student was assigned a patient for the

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Stigmata

Kevin Koo

I started my third year of medical school as a surgery clerk. 

With this eight-week clerkship came a flood of conflicting advice from older, wiser peers: “Ask a lot of questions, but speak only when spoken to.” “Offer to help, but stay out of the way.” “Be friendly and likeable, but not too friendly–or too likeable.” For the medical student, such is the mystique of the OR.

Three weeks into my general surgery

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A Passage in India

Justin Sanders

“It’s cooler this morning,” I said to Seema, as we left the hospital grounds en route to our home visits.

It was a bright and bustling morning in Trivandrum, the capital of India’s southwesternmost state, Kerala. A third-year resident in family medicine, I had come here to work with the staff of an Indian nonprofit devoted to advancing palliative care services across India. Seema was a young, newly qualified junior doctor who had

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Shujinwa Byoki Des

Lucy Moore

I don’t speak Japanese, but I can say “Shujinwa byoki des” (my husband is sick). 

After spending a month in Bali studying art, sweating profusely and slapping mosquitoes, we were heading home to New Mexico, with a stop in Hiroshima on the way. Our first morning there, my husband, Roberto, woke with a fever of 103 and a full body rash. 

The hotel had a thermometer, but no doctor. As Roberto’s fever neared

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Our Town (Chinese Spoken)

Juan Qiu

By the time Mrs. Zhang came to see me, her headache, left-sided weakness and facial numbness were two weeks old. Like many Chinese immigrants in this country, she’d hesitated to seek medical care because of language and cultural barriers and her apprehensiveness about Western medicine. In fact, she hadn’t seen a physician in the ten years since she and her husband had come to America. Only after a friend told her about me,

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A Certain Anesthesia

Arthur Ginsberg

Exhaustion sets in by day’s end
when the old Pakistani woman
hobbles into my office.
Raccoon eyes underscore the pain
she feels in her left leg. More cavalier
than a Hippocratic disciple should be,
I pull up her djellaba* to expose
the dark, tumescent flesh of her calf
monogrammed by serpiginous veins.
I am too aggressive with the needles
that search for the

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