6
Jan 19

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” Mark Twain is supposed to have said.

He was right, but he wasn’t saying anything new, as anyone familiar with the Bible can attest.

In Ecclesiastes you will find, as ancient precursor to Twain’s observation, this axiom from King Solomon:

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

It was Solomon’s words that surfaced in my mind on New Year's Eve as the last hours of 2018 bled away.  I stared glumly into the bathroom mirror at yet another volcanic eruption studding my 51-year-old mug, echoes of my pimply-faced adolescence ping-ponging in my brain.  Zits don’t ordinarily occupy the same territory as hard-won wrinkles - nor should one ever need reading glasses to properly inspect them.

I have my oncologist to thank for this acned absurdity.  One year ago, as 2018 rose unsteadily from the ashes of 2017, the stubborn beast of a cancer in my head reincarnated itself alongside the new year, thumbing its nose at all previous efforts to slay it.  I wasn’t keen to risk another craniotomy after four mighty kicks at that can; I’m all for being “open-minded”, but preferably not surgically.  So, after lengthy discussion with my cancer specialist, I took a flyer on a novel drug, armed with lotions and potions to keep the inevitable side effects at bay. Read the rest of this entry »

20
Dec 18

* names and some details of clinical cases changed to protect privacy

Act One

 A Crisis of Identity

One hundred and three.  The number leapt out at me from the little slip of paper.  An incandescent flash of comprehension flooded my brain.

It was fourteen years ago: I was standing beside the trauma bay bed, holding one of Jack’s tiny clenched fists in my hand as I gazed worriedly at his contorted face, his tongue thrusting rhythmically, eyes rolled insistently upward.

His spasming little body was submerged in a beehive of activity, medical personnel busily supplying critically needed oxygen, readying resuscitation equipment, and delivering intravenous medications and fluids.

Paramedics had crashed through the doors ten minutes earlier, wheeling Jack on a stretcher.  It had been a sleepy Monday morning in the ED to that point, the mundane chit-chat of nursing staff disturbed only by the raspy breathing and occasional seal-bark cough of a young boy with croup.  After dosing the young lad with dexamethasone and settling a misty mask of epinephrine over his face to ease his breathing, I sat in the doctors’ cubicle with my resident, killing time by quizzing her on the case we had just seen. Read the rest of this entry »