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

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Burnt

You never forget the smell of charred human flesh. It permeates your skin, your hair, your nose and your mind. It never leaves. You may try to describe it, but there is no equivalent. Not barbecue, not melted plastic, not wood; the smell of the flesh of a once-living human being stands on its own. Even after thirty years, my mind holds the smell in its broken places.

They said it was a Molotov cocktail

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Fourteen Months

from your ship in Vietnam.
Love letters.
Six pages in one of them
on the thin Navy stationary,
listing the ways you loved me.

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A Soldier’s Tale

Scott Janssen ~

“You ever work with vets?” asks the young man sitting across from me in the hospital waiting room.

He’s been sitting there all morning. So have I. Since 5:30 am, my father-in-law, age eighty-eight, has been undergoing surgery to remove a tumor in his lung. The surgeons just sent word that they’ve finished, and my wife and her mother have gone to the post-op room to see him.

Waiting

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Hearing Voices

Robert Burns

“She’s been hearing voices,” says Adala’s nephew Diri. “She hears them every night.”

The three of us sit in an examination room of my private geriatrics practice. I’ve been in a community-based practice in Memphis, Tennessee, for nearly twenty years.

Adala is a tall, slender woman. Dressed in a gray-blue guntiino, a long piece of cloth tied over the shoulder and draped around the waist, she has her head covered

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Babel: The Voices of a Medical Trauma

Editor’s Note: This week, on the eve of Pulse‘s second anniversary, we offer a remarkable piece. It is the true story of a hospitalization as told from three points of view: first, the recollections of the patient (who happens to be a physician); second, events as recorded in the medical charts by doctors and nurses; and third, the version put forth by the hospital.

FRIDAY

Patient:

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My War Story

Marc Tumerman

My practice is in a small rural Wisconsin town just down the road from a large military base. I see soldiers pretty regularly these days; they stay here for several weeks of pre-deployment training before shipping off to Iraq. They come from all over the country–men and women of various ages, some single, some married and with families. Their health-care needs aren’t too different from those of my civilian patients: maternity care, chronic

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