Showing 581 - 590 of 651 annotations tagged with the keyword "Disease and Health"

Raising Lazarus

Pensack, Robert

Last Updated: Jan-13-1999
Annotated by:
Martinez, Richard

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Summary:

Dr. Pensack writes in the first chapter of his memoir: "Through a lifetime I have been in the process of dying, consistently surprised when reminded that life is appallingly brief, and briefer still for me. The prospect of an early death has amounted to little more than embarrassment and loneliness, even though the routine of living can be, and usually is, just one goddamn thing after another. A new heart was somehow supposed to be my bloody-red carpet of victory." (p. 7)

At age 4, Pensack's mother died of IHSS, Idiopathic Hypertrophic Subaortic Stenosis--now known as HCM, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a genetically inherited, progressive disease of heart muscle that results in early death. At age 15, Pensack receives the terrible news of his own fate--the disease afflicts both Pensack and his older brother--and thus launches a life of near death experiences, numerous hospitalizations, early experiences at the National Institutes of Health with early investigators of the disease, pursuit of his own medical training and eventual specialty training in psychiatry, marriage and children, and ultimately, the waiting and eventual transplantation of a younger man's heart into his chest at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center when Pensack was 43.

Raising Lazarus tells of Pensack's journey through much of this, including his descent into madness, his fury and anger with medical colleagues, his poignant relationship with the heart surgeon who eventually performs the transplant, and the importance of his family in his refusal to die. While much of the book tells of the events leading to the transplant and post-operative period of Pensack's life, the reader learns of Pensack's early losses, including the death of his mother, and how these experiences shape the values of a gutsy and determined survivor, a man who continually returns to the struggle.

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Something for Joey

Peck, Richard

Last Updated: Jan-12-1999
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

This novel is a fictionalized version of a true story. In 1973 John Cappelletti from Penn State won the Heisman trophy, given to the outstanding college football player each year. When he received the award, he publicly "awarded" it to his little brother, Joey, then suffering from leukemia.

The story covers the two years prior to that event, a period when the relationship between the brothers deepened as John moved upward to fame and Joey's illness ran its slow course toward his eventual death in 1976. It provides many scenes from family life that show the range of ways a loving family of five children and a daughter-in-law collaborate in supporting Joey through hospital visits, remissions, a near-fatal coma, and increasing bouts of severe pain.

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Harvey

Hull, Josephine; Koster, Henry; Stewart, James

Last Updated: Jan-12-1999
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

With regret, Veta Simmons (Josephine Hull) decides to have her affable brother Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) committed to an asylum. His drinking and his unshakeable delusion of Harvey, a six-foot rabbit who is his constant companion, are interfering with her plans to find her daughter a suitable mate.

The young doctor is a psychiatric zealot, and when Veta claims that she is so fed up that she can sometimes "see that rabbit," he cleverly commits her instead. The error is discovered and rectified, but the gentle manners of Dowd (and his rabbit) eventually convince the young doctor, his nurse, their boss, and even Veta herself that he does not deserve to be locked up. They release him at the very moment he is about to receive a new chemical treatment guaranteed to rid him of the delusion. Dowd happily sets out to share the rest of his life with Harvey.

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Mirrorings

Grealy, Lucy

Last Updated: Jan-11-1999
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

This award-winning essay is the germ for Grealy's later book, Autobiography of a Face (see this database). In this piece, Grealy describes the influence of her experiences of cancer, its treatments, and the resulting deformity of her face on her development as a person.

She explores how physical appearance influences one's sexual identity and over all self worth. She also explores how one's own interpretation of one's appearance can be self fulfilling. Only after a year of not looking at herself in the mirror, ironically at a time when she appears more "normal" than ever before, does Grealy learn to embrace her inner self and to see herself as more than ugly.

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scar

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Jan-11-1999
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In 1994, Lucille Clifton was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. This short (12 line) poem, part of the sequence, "From the Cadaver" in this collection, describes an aspect of that experience. The mastectomy scar is an integral part of the narrator’s body, a physical presence that the poet addresses as if it were a person: "we will learn / to live together." At the same time, the scar marks a cataclysmic event in the poet’s life; it is the "edge of before and after." Finally, the scar speaks. " . . . i will not fall off."

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Dawn

Butler, Octavia

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Stanford, Ann Folwell

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust and a group of unconscious survivors have been taken by the alien Oankalis to the mother ship and placed in "sleeping" pods for some 250 years. One of the humans, Lilith Iyapo, is awakened and slowly trained by the Oankali not to be afraid of their horrifying (to humans) appearance. She comes to an uneasy truce and trust in the Oankali's explanation of where she is and her role: she has been chosen to awaken a select group (based on her reading of detailed personal resumes).

As she awakens them, one by one, she confronts their anger and confusion and, eventually, their resistance to the notion of gene trading proposed by the Oankali. Lilith becomes a mediator between the humans and the Oankalis, giving birth to a son interbred by her and an Oankali.

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Medicine

Hoagland, Tony

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Like the train images in the last two stanzas, this poem is a train of thoughts about medicine, doctors, and patients' relationships to doctors, medicine and illness. The poem begins with the narrator's (presumably the poet's) Chinese doctor writing a prescription in Chinese. The poet begins daydreaming about the characters, and this leads to a soliloquy about daydreaming and illness and the slower pace of the ill, hanging "suspended in the wallpaper" of waiting rooms.

A recollection of the poet's "lady doctor" and his infatuation with her leads to a revelation of his desire to have illness and suffering, just to be with her. He philosophizes "suffering itself is medicine / and to endure enough will cure you / of anything." He decides he'd like to suffer like his mother, who seemed to not only accept, but also relish, the sick role of the weak, dependent state.

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The Infinite Dark

Ayers, Mary Alice

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Ann Blake is a lonely, divorced, childless English teacher whose ninth grade class includes Karen, a girl who is dying of cancer ( probably lymphoma). As an adjunct to the medical treatment and prayer/faith healing that the child receives, Ann hopes that she might instill in Karen a purpose to live for, through her creative writing

The Infinite Dark refers to a story the students read during that school year, and the teacher ponders on what this phrase really means. She has assumed it means death, but, as Karen regains her health and moves on to another grade and forgets about Ann Blake, Ann realizes that for herself the infinite dark means being unconnected from others, being alone, not making an impact that is permanent--a sort of death in life. As the teacher tries to facilitate healing in the student she ironically realizes that she herself has known little about living her own life.

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Hunting Season

Greenberg, Joanne

Last Updated: Nov-24-1998
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A mother reflects on her life in the country and on her son who has a seizure disorder. She is nervous about allowing him outside to play because it is hunting season, and because she is worried he may have another seizure and get hurt. She seeks to balance her need to protect her son from harm with his need to grow up as normally as possible.

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One Last Time

Russell, Lori

Last Updated: Nov-24-1998
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The wife of a man dying of cancer takes him to Yosemite for one last visit before his death. During this trip she thinks about how her life has been changed, both by marriage and by her husband's illness. Yosemite represented a tradition for them where they vacationed with their children each year. As the narrator reflects on how her life will change after her husband's death, and on the needs she has suppressed over the years, Yosemite begins to represent a new kind of tradition for her which will give her nurturance in the future.

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