Repose

Bliss Lomotil blum

About the Artwork

Alan Blum

About the artist: 

Alan Blum is a professor and Gerald Leon Wallace MD Endowed Chair in family medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Tuscaloosa. A self-taught artist, he has published three books of his sketches and stories of patients, and his artworks have appeared in more than a dozen medical journals and textbooks. He is a frequent guest speaker at medical schools in courses in the humanities.

About the artwork:

“From my first year of medical school until the last day of my family medicine residency, I kept a visual diary, filling numerous notebooks with clinical vignettes, stories patients shared with me, scraps of overheard dialogue, and pasted-in sketches of my patients in ballpoint pen on index cards or prescription pads with pharmaceutical advertisements. I made this sketch on one of my visits to the patient’s home, where she had asked to be cared for instead of in the hospital. She died at age 72 less than six months after being diagnosed with an adenocarcinoma of the right lung that grew to occupy almost the entire right side of her chest, extending outward, hard as a rock, and pushing up her ribs and breast. She wanted me to urge teenagers not to make the same mistake she had made by taking up cigarette smoking.”

Visuals editor:

Justin Sanders

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Comments

5 thoughts on “Repose”

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Janice. The actual title of the sketch is “Repose,” and here is my full artist’s statement:

      “From my first year of medical school until the last day of my family medicine residency, I kept a visual diary, filling numerous notebooks with clinical vignettes, stories patients shared with me, scraps of overheard dialogue, and pasted-in sketches of my patients in ballpoint pen on index cards or prescription pads with pharmaceutical advertisements. I made this sketch on one of my visits to the patient’s home, where she had asked to be cared for instead of in the hospital. She died at age 72 less than six months after being diagnosed with an adenocarcinoma of the right lung that grew to occupy almost the entire right side of her chest, extending outward, hard as a rock, and pushing up her ribs and breast. She wanted me to urge teenagers not to make the same mistake she had made by taking up cigarette smoking.”

      Alan Blum

      1. Oh, Dr. Blum…I feel rather foolish. I should have deduced that the drawing was written on a scratch pad. And I was a bit confused by the title, “Bliss (Lomotil),” not to mention my super-sensitivity to Rx adds popping up everywhere! In a way, though, I’m glad I was confused because I’m happy to read your entire narrative. Thank you.

        1. Janice I too made the same mistake but I actually thought of many of my elderly frail patients who have been exhausted getting up and down to the toilet because of watery stools or fear of incontinence. For them having their bowels finally be under their own control again restores dignity, control, and pride. I have even met some thankful for the colostomy after surgery for the same reason. In my mind I did include the lomotil as part of the whole picture. It is funny how we all view things so differently.

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